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Hi everyone!  Today I’ll be writing about one thing I am very passionate about…it’s close to my heart and matters a lot to me.  What about you?  What do you feel strongly about and perhaps feel you should do something about?  If you can’t think of anything, I encourage you to search around.  Being truly passionate about something is important in more ways than one — I think one of the most important is that you will almost certainly encounter people who feel strongly the opposite way, and there isn’t a finer way of showing maturity and respect than engaging in a civil conversation with that person.  I don’t see that nearly enough right now…there’s lots of strong feelings, but not nearly enough willingness to listen to the other person’s side!  It’s okay to disagree, but please, please do not attack the other person.  Listen, truly listen, to their feelings and value their opinion as another human being.  With that, I now bring you one of my strongest passions.

The American Mustang:  No, this is not the car — sorry if I disappointed you!  You may not even know there are currently 67,027 wild horses and burros ranging on public Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands right now in 11 western states (blm.gov).  Wild Mustangs (and burros, later on) have ranged for hundreds of years, and the population has risen and fallen as the years passed.  By 1971, though, the population had declined to a dangerous level (due to a variety of factors, a predominate one being ranchers killing them because they were eating their cattle’s grazing lands), and the Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act was put in place to protect these historic symbols of America.

Forty-six years later, we are now in the complete opposite situation — we have too many horses and burros for the land to sustain.  The BLM has established an Appropriate Management Level (AML) for each Herd Management Area (HMA).  Each HMA can vary greatly in acreage, but the 111 HMAs that currently exist add up to about 31.6 million acres.  I know that’s a lot and it seems to work out to about 470 acres per animal, except it’s not that simple.  Only 29.6 million of those total 31.6 million acres are managed by the BLM, and of those 29.6 million, large portions are leased out to farmers to graze their cattle on.  Some people even reside in an HMA.  In short, there’s no easy way to describe an HMA — you’re dealing with 111 different pieces of land in 11 states, and within each state, the climate can vary enormously.  An HMA in Oregon may be quite lush and able to sustain far more horses and burros than one in arid Arizona, for example.

Thus, the maximum AML for all 111 HMAs is 26,715.  The BLM has set this based on each HMA’s climate, acreage, other inhabitants, and any other factors that may affect the well-being of the horses and burros.  This number is to promote healthy conditions on the range and ensure each HMA can adequately support the horses and/or burros that live in it.  It doesn’t take much math to realize the current level of horses and burros (67,027) is over 2.5 times more than the AML (26,715).  How did this happen?  One, female horses and burros on HMAs are having a baby (or twins) pretty much every year, starting around the age of three and continuing their entire life (or until they’re rounded up).  Thus, if just one mare is allowed to stay on the range her entire life, and let’s say she dies at the age of 20 (a normal lifespan of a wild horse), she could have had 17 babies (or more).  Now let’s say her particular herd has 20 other mares.  If they all have a baby the same year, there are now 21 babies — the herd has increased by 21 — in just one year!  And this is just a small sampling; it pales in comparison to the 67,027 total horses and burros currently out there.

Another factor that has contributed to the huge current level is finances.  The BLM is controlled by the government, which means they only have so much money to spend on managing the wild horses and burros.  The BLM is not only in charge of all these animals; they also control other public lands, recreation, hunting, energy and mineral extraction operations, and much more.  The Wild Horse & Burro Program is only one area of their focus!  To try to control the herd levels, they hold roundups periodically throughout each year, or treat and release mares with a type of birth control (it’s not 100% effective, and it only lasts for a year).  But all of these procedures cost money and take an enormous amount of time, energy, and planning, so if any of those are not available, the roundups or birth control treatments simply do not happen.  But the Mustangs and burros don’t simply put breeding on hold, so in the meantime, the herd sizes just keep increasing!  Eventually, the HMA will become so overgrazed and overworked that it cannot grow anything to sustain the horses and burros, and they will literally starve to death, eat dangerous plants that kill them out of hunger, or wander in search of better forage and end up getting hit on a public roadway.  This is devastating and terribly sad, but it’s the stark reality of what happens without management, or under-management.

So what can we do?  The BLM holds adoption events throughout the country several times each month, and an organization called the Mustang Heritage Foundation (MHF) holds several competitions each year called the Extreme Mustang Makeover, where trainers are assigned a wild Mustang, given about 100 days to train it, and then compete after those 100 days to demonstrate their horse’s skills.  Following the conclusion of the competition, all are auctioned off to happy new owners who get a trained symbol of the American West for a very fair price.  Many of the trainers are willing to stay in contact with you after you take the Mustang home, and help you in case you have any problems.  Some will even take the horse back home with them to put in another month or two of training, then bring it to you.  The MHF also has a program called the Trainer Incentive Program (TIP), where you can go to an adoption and select a completely-untrained Mustang or burro, let a TIP trainer do the initial gentling, and then you can officially adopt it and have many happy years together!

My suggestions on how to help if you’re interested:

  1. If you want a horse, I highly recommend you consider adopting a Mustang (or burro!), either completely untouched (only if you have prior training experience or if you will be supervised, though!), TIP trained (only $125 for the Mustang; the training is free), or through an Extreme Mustang Makeover event (anywhere from $200 to over $1,000; it varies a lot).  Different levels of training for each of those options ensures almost anyone can find the “right” horse for them.
  2. Go to https://www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/about-the-program or http://mustangheritagefoundation.org/ to learn more facts, figures, and FAQs about pretty much anything you want to, from how to observe horses and burros in the wild to adoption schedules and Extreme Mustang Makeover events.
  3. Donate to the MHF.  They’re a 501(c)(3) organization and truly do a lot not only for Mustangs and burros, but also for the trainers who are involved in the TIP program or Extreme Mustang Makeovers.  You can donate a set amount or you can purchase an item from their online store — it all goes to their dedicated efforts to raise awareness about the plight of the Mustangs and burros.
  4. Watch Unbranded (available on iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon either as digital or DVD/Blu-Ray).  It’s an EXCELLENT documentary that does an outstanding job of showing all sides of the debate (leave the animals untouched, manage them, or remove them).  It’s also pretty thrilling to watch for the story and scenic shots.  I’m going to leave it at that because I really just want you to watch it, not read my review of it!
  5. Truly understand the situation Mustangs and burros are in right now.  You’ll hear from people, sadly mistaken, who say we shouldn’t bother the Mustangs and burros, or that the BLM is removing all of them and there won’t be any left in a year.  I’m sorry, but the data that I have listed above is 100% true.  Mustangs and burros are in excess on public lands.  They are starving to death.  Babies are trying to nurse off of their dead mothers.  And just leaving them alone will NOT take care of the problem; in fact, it will exacerbate it.  Don’t take my word for it if you don’t want to — in fact, I encourage you to go to the BLM website.  Read the reports and figures for yourself.  Look up pictures of recently-rounded-up Mustangs and burros.  Watch Unbranded.  Heck, go out west to an HMA and see for yourself!  Not every Mustang and burro is starving to death, but there are plenty.  We need to get to a point where that isn’t an issue; where the 26,715 appropriate management level is met and not exceeded; where holding pens aren’t overcrowded with animals waiting to be adopted; and where horse people have the same passion I have, ignore the fancy five- or six-figure purebred Dutch Warmblood, and adopt an American Mustang!

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Here’s Blondie, my own American Mustang!

~Anna

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“She doesn’t even go here.”

Hi! My name is Cecelia Meyer, I am a transfer student and new to Fontbonne this semester. I am native to the St. Louis area, born and raised, and it feels so great to be back! I am a second semester freshman, double majoring in social science/strategic communications. I was slightly terrified about entering the world of being a transfer, mostly because I didn’t know how to make friends, I was so sure groups were already formed, and friendship bracelets were made. However, here at Fontbonne the people are so kind and so welcoming. There has not been a single moment where I am concerned about where to sit whether in class or the dinning hall, people are always smiling and inviting. However, it can still be a struggle to find your niche! NO FEARS! Fontbonne has a plethora of activities that can help a transfer student like myself feel right at home. My second week in, Fontbonne had a student activities fair and I got to see some of the great organizations on campus like FAB! Also getting active (literally) is a great way to get involved and meet new people! I go to Zumba on Thursdays and I have already met a handful of amazing individuals! Believe me, I am the worst dancer, but in Zumba there is no judgement, only great music! I am eager to share my transfer experience with you all and share the great place of Fontbonne!

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Hello, my name is Amy Vilimek

I am writing this on behalf of all my fellow classmates who are over the age of 22 years old.

I am actually 24 years old and anticipate to graduate in 2017.  I transferred here in Fall 2014, to continue my journey in studying Elementary Education.

Now, this wasn’t an easy transition by any means.  Upon coming here, I only knew my sister who was at the time a Jr, and Jenna Neal, who was my transfer counselor and the reason I was totally sold on coming here 🙂

If you think about it, spring 2014 was when most of the traditional college students graduated, which means that the students who were my age at the time had already graduated just before I came here, while I was just fresh into my true college life experience.

I’m not going to lie, I felt a little unsettled at first about being a little older than some of my classmates, and if anything also intimidated.

Although I had taken several of my general education courses at Meramec, this experience was a lot different! I was in smaller classrooms, with less people, and everyone seemed to know each other and be friends.

Like I said, it’s rough going to a new place and not knowing anyone.

For my first 2 semesters, I was pretty low-key.  I wasn’t very involved on campus, and I mostly just cared about my academics.

We get to December 2015, where I finally decided to take a step in the water and get involved.

I started attending more on-campus events, and even applied to be a student leader in Griffin 101.

I think Griffin 101 was the biggest break through I had.  Janelle Densberger helped me out in so many ways to become outgoing, yet professional in helping new students feel welcome at Fontbonne.  I had a fantastic companion; Lizz Brooks who also knows how it feels to be a little older than traditional students, and is also one of my greatest friends I have here! I joined this group because I knew how it felt to be the new student, and I wanted to make sure each new student felt welcome and included into the griffin family.  No matter what age, race, gender etc.

After Griffin 101, I felt like I wanted to do so much more on campus, and the joy I feel when surrounded by this beautiful community who also feels the same.

Age is the last thing that should matter when going to college, and what truly matters is that you are doing something so meaningful for yourself.  You’re getting an education, and on the road to getting that degree!

Getting involved on campus is like icing on the cake! You build your resume up, you meet people of similar interests, and you develop all sorts of connections.  I also believe involvement helps you grow in so many different ways, and by the time graduation comes you’ll be able to look back at many good memories of your college journey.

As of now, I am in the Quest Leadership Program, I am a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa honors society, I am an intern in the Center for Educational and Emerging Technology (also oversee the social media!), I’m a part of a new education organization called Council for Exceptional Children, I cantor and participate in the mass choir, and I am on the Student Alumni Association.  I think that’s everything haha 😉

Needless to say, I think this year has been a great year and probably one of my favorites.  I was never one to get involved in school, and the outcomes of doing so are incredible.  As a future teacher, it also pushes me further out of my comfort zone to be more extroverted and not be afraid to try new things.

My overall hopes upon writing this blog is to encourage EVERY Griffin here to get involved! Whether you are 18 or older, there are all sorts of organizations and groups on campus that have so much to offer.  Growth can only happen if you make the effort to put yourself out there.  🙂

 

 

 

 

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Okay, so it’s not Halloween quite yet…I know!  But if you’re not a celebrator of the holiday itself, it’s not a huge deal.  I prefer to think of it as part of the whole fall experience — a specific day to go all out and celebrate fall.  I am not a fan of haunted houses, witches, skeletons, ghosts, or any of the other holiday-specific traditions.  It’s not because I am scared of them, but as a Christian I just can’t say they are in line with my beliefs.  This is just my personal opinion…I think it’s totally fine if you have fun participating in these activities, especially if it’s an opportunity to be outside and enjoy the weather!

With that said, my previous Halloweens have included hayrides, bonfires, and…trick-or-treating with my horses!  Where I live is not conducive (or even possible) for trick-or-treating, unless you want to walk two miles and only visit three or four houses.  My church always had a really nice event when I was growing up called Trunk or Treat, where people would decorate the trunks of their cars with a theme and hand out candy, so I still had the classic experience of dressing up and having some Halloween fun.

Now that I’m older and have horses, though, I’ve changed up the game a little bit.  Last Halloween was the inaugural kick-off of “Equine Trick-or-Treating”, and the plan is to have an exciting second year to continue the tradition.  It’s the exact same concept as human trick-or-treating, except I don’t really dress up my horses (I could, though…hmm).  They have to perform a trick before they get their treat!  Blondie can smile, and Pearl will smile, kneel, bow, do the Spanish walk, count, and climb up on a rock or steps.  I think I’m going to make them Rice Krispie treats this year, but they’d be happy with anything — carrots, apples, marshmallows, safe fruits and vegetables, or special horse cookies and treats.  Yes, they’re a bit spoiled…but they deserve it. 🙂

Stay safe and enjoy the day, whatever your plans include.  (yes, it’s a regularly scheduled day at Fontbonne, but rumor has it there are multiple bowls of candy around campus…..just saying……)  Happy Halloween!

~Anna

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Falling for Fall

by Anna September 21, 2016

As I write this, we are just TWO days away from fall (although with the temperatures, it’s hard to think about)!  Can you believe we’re already back at this point?  It feels like we just started 2016 and now we’re moving into the final quarter of it! Coming in at a very close second to winter, fall […]

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My Involvement at Fontbonne

by Patricia September 19, 2016

I think it is safe to say that I am very involved at Fontbonne. Brace yourself! It may seem like a lot, but it is just enough to keep me busy and not too much. I have been on Fontbonne Activities Board (FAB) for 4 years. I help plan major events on campus including homecoming […]

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True/False Film Festival

by Lauren April 13, 2016

Over this past weekend, I attended the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, MO–again with my partner in crime, my sister. I’m less experienced when it comes to T/F, as this was just my second year. So if you want to learn more about the origins of T/F, I suggest clicking this link: http://truefalse.org/about/history As with any […]

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Get Involved and Grow Together at Fontbonne!

by Alumni Posts March 4, 2016

Welcome back everyone! I am here to share my journey at Fontbonne. I graduated from high school with 75 people. In high school, I played three sports, was involved in multiple clubs, and my mom was the school nurse. Even though I was involved in school and was very comfortable, I never was that outgoing. […]

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Welcome Back Griffins!

by Alumni Posts February 15, 2016

Hello everyone!  My name is McKinley Robbins! I am a sophomore here at Fontbonne and majoring in Deaf Education! I am from about an hour south of Chicago. (Yes, where all the cornfields are) I have grown up in a small town my whole life and couldn’t wait to get to St. Louis. I am […]

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Friday, FAB, and Fundraisers – Oh My!

by Fontbonne University October 19, 2015

Happy Friday, Fonties! Friday is my one day that I don’t have class (woo!), but typically tends to be the busiest. As President of the Fontbonne Activities Board (FAB), we have a meeting every Friday at 11:00 AM and (typically) an event at 8:00 PM. In between there, I’m usually spending time up in the […]

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