National Wildlife Federation’s Jason Baldes Honored for Tribal Buffalo Restoration Work

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 10, 2024) — Jason Baldes, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior Tribal buffalo program manager, has received a 2024 Wayfinder Award from the National Geographic Society for his efforts to restore buffalo populations on Tribal lands. The prestigious award, which recognizes recipients for “pushing the boundaries in science, conservation, education, technology and storytelling,” designates Baldes a National Geographic Explorer while allowing him to apply for funding for a future conservation initiative.

“Buffalo are a treasured part of our natural heritage, connecting us to the land and to the Indigenous communities that have held them sacred for thousands of years,” Baldes said. “I am proud to have devoted my career to protecting these incredible animals, and appreciate the National Geographic Society for supporting and amplifying our ongoing conservation efforts.”

“Jason has been a singular champion for buffalo restoration, helping to restore an iconic animal once on the brink of extinction while centering Tribal and Indigenous priorities,” said Brian Kurzel, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Rocky Mountain Regional Center. “This award could not be more well-deserved.”

Baldes, a member of the Eastern Shoshone tribe, works regularly with Tribes to restore and manage buffalo populations across the western United States. Among other achievements, he has successfully helped restore over 100 buffalo to Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribal lands since 2016. He also serves as executive director of the Wind River Tribal Buffalo Initiative, vice president of the InterTribal Buffalo Council’s board of directors and is a member of the Conservation Lands Foundation’s board of trustees.

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