News & Events

Conservation Breakfast 2024 Draws a Crowd for Fascinating Program about Cougars

Author: Jefferson Land Trust | 03/19/24

Two men in an office with photos of cougars behind them.,

Dr. Mark Elbroch (left) and his teammate Andy Stratton from Panthera were the featured speakers at Conservation Breakfast 2024.

Thank you to all who joined us on the morning of Thursday, March 14 for virtual Conservation Breakfast 2024! It was our biggest Breakfast yet, with more than 350 community members tuning in on Zoom for this year’s program, “The Olympic Cougar Project: Conservation in a Human-Dominated Landscape,” featuring keynote speakers biologist Dr. Mark Elbroch and his teammate Andy Stratton from Panthera. Panthera is a nonprofit organization devoted to the conservation of the world’s 40 species of wild cats and the ecosystems they inhabit.

Woman in Zoom window

Dana Ward, member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Council, began the event with warm words and blessing.

We were honored to begin the event with warm words and a blessing shared by Dana Ward, member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Council. Then, Dr. Elbroch and Andy led us on an inspirational and educational journey. They shared compelling insights into the evolving role of the Olympic Peninsula as an isolated enclave for cougars, relayed fascinating information about cougar dispersal and movement, showed how Panthera and the many individuals and partner groups that make up the Olympic Cougar Project safely collar and track cats, and much more. Their presentation included detailed maps, robust data, photos of their work in action, and even video footage of cougars and cougar kittens in the wild.

Jefferson Land Trust’s Director of Conservation and Strategic Partnerships, Sarah Spaeth, joined the conversation to illuminate the connection between the Olympic Cougar Project’s work and the Land Trust’s role in establishing safe passageways, known as “wildlife corridors,” to benefit local wildlife, including cougars. She explained how Jefferson Land Trust is working to safeguard natural spaces and wild places for a more resilient future — even in a changing climate.


Cougar captured on a wildlife camera at one of the Land Trust’s wildlife preserves.

A Q&A session following the program gave participants the chance to ask Dr. Elbroch and Andy Stratton thoughtful questions about cougar behavior, the role they play in our ecosystem, and how humans can peacefully coexist with and support these important apex predators.

During the event, we were also excited to announce the winner of 2024’s Fairbank Award for Youth Environmental Action: Tallulah Sebastian! Jefferson Land Trust’s Board President Brian Rogers presented Tallulah with the award, and surprised her with the news that an anonymous community member was so inspired by her leadership that they matched the award’s $500 prize with an additional $500 gift to support Tallulah in her goals, including an upcoming service and learning trip to Thailand this summer with Port Townsend High School’s Expedition Club. We were pleased that Tallulah was able to join us to receive the award and share a few words of thanks. (Learn more about Tallulah and her inspiring leadership in our April eNews. Sign up for this monthly newsletter here.)

As we wrapped up the program, former longtime Jefferson Land Trust Board Member Nan Evans spoke in support of Jefferson Land Trust’s work, noting that one of the best ways to support local wildlife is to support your local land trust.

And one lucky participant, Norton Smith, was randomly selected as our prizewinner! Norton got to take home a copy of Dr. Elbroch’s fascinating book “The Cougar Conundrum: Sharing the World with a Successful Predator.”

Screenshot of YouTube video of panther photoWe wish to thank our sponsors, whose generous support allows us to offer this event to our community members at no cost; our wonderful speakers; and all those who joined us to celebrate the power of community conservation and our shared vision for a stronger future!

If you missed this event, or would like to watch it again and/or share it with friends and family, please visit the Jefferson Land Trust YouTube channel to watch the full presentation.