This summer break, I had the fortune of stumbling upon a wolf sanctuary called Mission: Wolf. Their catchphrase was “Education v. Extinction,” so they were eager to teach my family and I about these beautiful and inspiring creatures.
Communication – The tour guide said the caretakers who stay at Mission: Wolf have to be honest and open with one another. If one worker has a grudge with another, the wolves can sense the passive aggressiveness and avoid the worker with the grudge. The caretakers have to talk through their problems with one another, be willing to confront someone, and ready to hear feedback.
Authentic work – With rocky dirt roads that are piles of mud and snow through southern Colorado winters, Mission: Wolf has to be as sustainable as possible from October through May. Gardens are planted on a slope below a pond so they are irrigated through groundwater. The greenhouse vents have beeswax in them, so they automatically contract and expand when needed. Every piece of the sanctuary is built to be as self-sustaining as possible, so the folks who stay can focus their energy on taking care of the wolves.
Our guide informed us we could bring our own tents and set up camp - and the temptation was certainly there. Every day, every task goes directly to taking care of the wolves, or feeding and nourishing the community.
Interconnection – “How does a wolf bring cold water to a fish?” our guide asked. We took a few guesses with simple answers to her riddle. They kill the beavers, the otters?
When we gave up, she told us the wolves that were re-introduced to Yellowstone got rid of the coyotes, bringing back smaller rodents, who brought back the eagles and hawks who hunted them. Simultaneously, the antelopes who had lazily been standing around eating all the small brush had to run again, making them healthier. As the antelope ran, they aerated the soil, making it healthier, and creating hoof print pockets where water could collect and move through the forest better. The small brush could grow into tall grass, shelter the small rodents, and create bigger pools connected by the small rivulets created by the antelope, bringing cold water to the fish.
Meeting those wolves and learning about what they can do for the ecosystem was the happiest day of my life. But instead of pitching a tent in Colorado, I left feeling rejuvenated for the coming year.
On our “Journey Home” together, the wolves have me thinking: How do we want to communicate with one another? What is the meaningful work we want to do together? How are we connected to each other? I look forward to seeing what our pack can do together this year!