175 episodes

Conversations with innovators of the American West. Guests include athletes, artists, adventurers, writers, ranchers, conservationists, entrepreneurs, thought leaders—anyone who’s doing inspired work that contributes to the region’s evolving and complex cultural fabric.

Through informal yet substantive interviews, conservationist Ed Roberson introduces you to these fascinating characters, giving you a better understanding of their careers, influences, and outlooks, as well as a deeper appreciation for life in the American West.

Mountain & Prairie with Ed Roberson Ed Roberson

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 857 Ratings

Conversations with innovators of the American West. Guests include athletes, artists, adventurers, writers, ranchers, conservationists, entrepreneurs, thought leaders—anyone who’s doing inspired work that contributes to the region’s evolving and complex cultural fabric.

Through informal yet substantive interviews, conservationist Ed Roberson introduces you to these fascinating characters, giving you a better understanding of their careers, influences, and outlooks, as well as a deeper appreciation for life in the American West.

    Carlos Fernández, Part 2 - Creating Conservation Opportunities During Uncertain Times

    Carlos Fernández, Part 2 - Creating Conservation Opportunities During Uncertain Times

    Carlos Fernández is the Colorado State Director of The Nature Conservancy, one of the most effective conservation organizations in the American West and around the globe. You probably remember Carlos from our first conversation back in August of 2020, in which we discussed his inspiring career trajectory, the importance of collaborative conservation partnerships, and several of TNC’s cutting-edge initiatives throughout the West.
    -
    When we recorded that first episode, we were in the very early stages of the pandemic– a time marked by unprecedented uncertainty in almost every aspect of life. When we recorded today’s episode– nearly two-and-a-half years after that first conversation– the worst of the pandemic is now behind us. Carlos was able to look back on that trying period with some perspective, discussing the many challenges and opportunities that arose from such a difficult few years. This conversation is a case study of how critical work can be produced during challenging times, and how optimism, focus, and old-fashioned teamwork can lead to lasting outcomes.
    -
    Carlos and I met up at his office in Boulder and had an in-depth conversation about TNC’s conservation initiatives and collaborations over the past few years. I asked Carlos about his leadership strategies and tactics during the most intense days of the pandemic and what he and TNC  learned from those challenges. We talk about Carlos’s recent 2022 year-end letter and TNC Colorado’s 2022 Year In Review, and we dig into several inspiring conservation victories from the past 12 months. We also revisit the Southern High Plains Initiative and the Yampa River Fund, and we discuss TNC’s future plans around climate change and diversity, equity, and inclusion. We also talk about this year-long partnership between TNC and Mountain & Prairie, which we are both very excited about.
    ---
    The Colorado chapter of Nature Conservancy TNC Colorado's 2022 Year in Review Full Episode Notes & Links: https://mountainandprairie.com/carlos-fernandez-2/ Carlos's First M&P episode ---
    This episode is brought to you in partnership with the Colorado chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Guided by science and grounded by decades of collaborative partnerships, The Nature Conservancy has a long-standing legacy of achieving lasting results to create a world where nature and people thrive.
    On the fourth Tuesday of every month throughout 2023, Mountain & Prairie will be delving into conversations with a wide range of The Nature Conservancy’s leaders, partners, collaborators, and stakeholders, highlighting the myriad of conservation challenges, opportunities, and solutions here in the American West.
    To learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s impactful work in Colorado and around the world, visit www.nature.org/colorado
    ---
    TOPICS DISCUSSED:
    3:00 -  Carlos discusses the evolution of TNC Colorado during COVID 10:00 - Why the eastern plains and grasslands of Colorado are important and such a focus area of TNC Colorado’s work 12:00 - The power of partnerships in conservation work 14:45 - Why TNC Colorado feels it is important to focus on underserved and underrepresented groups in any work concerning climate change and conservation 19:30 - The importance of storytelling in conservation work 23:00 - How he and TNC prioritizes the focal points of their work, including who he seeks council from 30:45 - What he is excited about for TNC Colorado moving forward 33:30 - How he evaluates difficult choices and newest trends in conservation to ensure action is intentional and not controlled by external trends (not chasing every shiny object) 36:30 - What he thinks TNC Colorado’s role is in the state’s overall conservation sector, returning again to the importance of partnership and collaboration in this field  44:00 - The Yampa River Fund and updates us on its progress 49:45 - TNC’s relationships with businesses  53:00 - Advice for folks looking to work in conserva

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Christian Beamish - West Coast Craftsman

    Christian Beamish - West Coast Craftsman

    Christian Beamish is a writer, craftsman, surfboard shaper, and all-around adventurer who lives and works between Ventura and Carpinteria, California. He’s the author of one of my favorite books– "The Voyage of the Cormorant"– which tells his deeply personal story of building an open-hulled boat by hand and then sailing it down the Baja Peninsula alone, surfing and camping along the way. He’s also the owner of Surfboards California, where he hand-shapes a wide variety of custom boards for surfers of all skill levels.
    -
    Christian grew up in California, and for as long as he can remember, he’s been connected to the ocean and committed to building things. He’s lived an adventurous life that included a stint in the military, surf trips to the far reaches of the globe, and sailing trips up and down the Pacific Coast. And in addition to his work shaping surfboards and writing, he’s also a committed husband, father, and community member. I greatly admire how Christian manages to balance all of these sometimes-competing roles, and I gained a lot of valuable perspective from this conversation.
    -
    I met up with Christian in Carpinteria, just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, in a building that is home to several surfboard shapers and various creative folks. I’ve admired Christian’s writing for over a decade, so it was a dream come true to have the opportunity to spend the morning with him. We covered a ton in this hour-long conversation– his lifelong connection to the ocean and craftsmanship, lessons learned from the military, how he developed his skill for writing, his amazing book "Voyage of the Cormorant," fatherhood, dealing with intense emotions, the craft of shaping surfboards, favorite books and authors, and much more. You can check out the episode notes for a list of all the topics we discussed and links to everything.
    -
    A huge thanks to Christian for welcoming me into his shop, and thanks to all of you for listening. Hope you enjoy.
    ---
    Christian Beamish Surfboards California "The Voyage of the Cormorant" by Christian Beamish Full episode notes & links: https://mountainandprairie.com/christian-beamish/ Ed's 2023 Strenuous Life Retreat ---
    TOPICS DISCUSSED:

    4:00 - Christian talks about where he grew up 9:15 - What influenced his desire to build things 10:15 - Christian's relationship to work 12:30 - His writing practice and talks about when writing came into his life  16:00 - Christian tangles with how his literary interests and writing reconcile with his service in the US Navy 17:15 - Overview of his book, The Voyage of the Cormorant 24:45 - Christian reflects on the person he was when he started the voyage that inspired his book 27:30 - The inner challenges he experienced during his voyage 31:30 - His strategies for dealing with emotional challenges 33:00 - How having kids has affected his life 38:45 - Christian describes the surfboards he designs 43:00 - His transition from more standard surfing to big wave surfing 50:45 - Christian and Ed briefly discuss skiing 54:30 - Book recommendations, and a discussion of his family’s history 1:01:00 - Parting words of advice for budding crafters and creators ---
    ABOUT MOUNTAIN & PRAIRIE:
    Mountain & Prairie - All Episodes Mountain & Prairie Shop Mountain & Prairie on Instagram Upcoming Events About Ed Roberson Support Mountain & Prairie Leave a Review on Apple Podcasts

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Jess Mudgett - Humble & Grateful

    Jess Mudgett - Humble & Grateful

    Jess Mudgett is an artist, skater, surfer, and occasional ranch hand who specializes in one-of-a-kind designs that appear everywhere from murals in the rural West to the Yeti offices in downtown Austin. Fans of Jess’s work can spot his art from a mile away– he’s known for bold, often-times big portrayals of western landscapes, horses, birds, people, and more, all presented in a style that is uniquely his own. If you’re not familiar with Jess’s art, I’d encourage you to visit his Instagram page while listening– there’s a link in the notes for you to click through.
    -
    Jess was raised in Fort Collins, Colorado, and grew up obsessed with and fully committed to skateboarding. While attending art school in Portland, he dropped out to go on a professionally funded skate trip, which ultimately led to getting his foot in the door with the art department of a skate company.  After a few years, Jess returned to school to earn his degree, and his path as a professional artist was set. Currently, Jess is based in Portland, but spends big portions of the year traveling the West in his truck, creating art for a wide variety of well-known companies and individuals.
    -
    Jess and I met up at my house in Colorado Springs and had a fun conversation about his life as an artist. We started out discussing his upbringing in Fort Collins and how skating and art became the focus of his life. We discuss his creative process, his partnerships with popular brands, and his relationship with the renowned photographer (and past podcast guest) Chris Burkard. Jess describes his time working on Mark Carter’s Wyoming ranch, his lifestyle of living on the road, how he pushes through self-doubt, his love of tattoos, and some of the artists who have inspired him over the years. And what I loved most about this conversation was Jess’s overall vibe of deep gratitude and true humility– I think you’ll be inspired by his approach to life and art.
    -
    And as a surprise, Jess created a special Mountain & Prairie design that I know you’ll love– I sure do. I’m going to be offering this design on special edition t-shirts, stickers, and coffee mugs in the Mountain & Prairie shop. If you want to check out the collection, follow the link in the notes. It’s an awesome design, and I’m honored that Jess took the time to create such a unique piece just for Mountain & Prairie listeners.
    -
    Once again, thanks for taking the time to listen. I hope you enjoy this conversation with the great Jess Mudgett.
    ---
    Jess on Instagram SHOP: Jess Mudgett x M&P Full episode notes and links: https://mountainandprairie.com/jess-mudgett/ Writers for the Wild with David Gessner and Craig Childs ---
    TOPICS DISCUSSED:
    4:10 – Jess discusses growing up and  the role his parents played in his childhood 6:00 – Jess talks about how skateboarding became a part of his life and art 7:15 – Jess discusses the next step in his life after high school: going to art school 13:45 – Jess and Ed talk about surfing 16:30 – Jess discusses his life after art school, including how he worked his way into NHS skate company 23:30 – Jess talks about his current lifestyle, including living out of his truck 26:45 – Jess discusses his stint working on a ranch at the beginning of COVID, as well as how it changed him 31:15 – Jess talks about how he manages his creative time 35:30 – Jess discusses his relationship with Chris Burkard, as well as why he thinks Chris has been so successful 41:45 – Jess talks about tattoos becoming a part of his life 43:45 – Jess describes his art as he sees it today 44:30 – Jess talks about the artists who inspire him 47:15 – Jess discusses self-criticism in his work 47:45 – Jess talks about how his relationship with Yeti began 51:00 – Jess talks about the times in his artistic career when he has felt like quitting 53:45 – Jess’s advice for your creatives 58:45 – Jess’s book recommendations 1:00:30 – Jess’s partin

    • 1 hr 3 min
    BONUS EPISODE: Kate Matheson & The Ranchlands Podcast

    BONUS EPISODE: Kate Matheson & The Ranchlands Podcast

    If you’re a Mountain & Prairie Patreon supporter, then you probably already know that I recently began hosting another podcast for my friends at Ranchlands. It’s called the Ranchlands Podcast, and it features conversations with members of the Ranchlands community. As of today, we’re about ten episodes in, and we feel very grateful that the podcast has been well-received and shared widely.
    -
    For those of you who have not listened to it, I wanted to share one episode here on Mountain & Prairie. This one features my conversation with Kate Matheson, who is the ranch manager of the Zapata Ranch located in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Kate was born and raised in England and enjoyed a successful career in publishing and fashion before picking up and heading to the American West. It’s a cool story.
    -
    This was a fun, inspiring conversation that I know will resonate with Mountain & Prairie listeners. If you want to listen to more of the Ranchlands Podcast, you can subscribe to it using the link in the notes or wherever you get your podcasts. 
    -
    And if you want to hang out with Kate and me at the Zapata Ranch this upcoming summer, I encourage you to check out my second annual Strenuous Life Retreat, which takes place in August of 2023. It's five full days of adventure, learning, conversation, and camaraderie, all in the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt’s commitment to living the Strenuous Life.
    -
    The 2022 retreat was a huge success: We hiked high into the Sangre de Cristo Range, rode horses in Great Sand Dunes National Park and alongside bison and elk on the Medano Ranch. We had discussions about conservation and regenerative agriculture with expert guests, we started each day with strenuous exercise and ended each day with top-notch dinners and a campfire.
    -
    The retreat is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to spend five days with a like-minded crew, immersed in one of the West’s most spectacular landscapes, pushing yourself hard both physically and intellectually.
    -
    But now, without further delay, here’s episode nine of the Ranchlands Podcast, featuring the one-and-only Kate Matheson.

    The Ranchlands Podcast The 2023 Strenuous Life Retreat —
    TOPICS DISCUSSED:
    4:20 - Kate’s history with horses 10:00 - School and career post-high school 14:40 - Breaking into the magazine business 20:45 - Kate’s impression of the US before moving here 22:45 - Moving to Montana 28:00 - How did Montana change Kate? 32:40 - Quitting her job and moving back to Montana 36:00 - Meeting the Phillips family 41:54 - Beginning work at Ranchlands 44:15 - How Kate combines her passions with her career 50:00 - Life-changing experiences at Zapata 54:20 - Why should city dwellers care about the land 55:25 - Misconceptions about ranching 56:45 - Resources 57:40 - Sources of hope ---
    ABOUT MOUNTAIN & PRAIRIE:
    Mountain & Prairie - All Episodes Mountain & Prairie Shop Mountain & Prairie on Instagram Upcoming Events About Ed Roberson Support Mountain & Prairie Leave a Review on Apple Podcasts

    • 58 min
    Live with the Cowboy Artists of America

    Live with the Cowboy Artists of America

    This is a special episode that was recorded live in Fort Worth, Texas as part of the Cowboy Artists of America’s 56th annual exhibition and sale. The show was called “Stories From Around The Campfire,” and it was held at the world-renowned Amon Carter Musem of American Art. I was joined on stage by seven influential members CAA community, and we had a panel discussion about the rich history and bright future of the organization. As you’ll hear, the event was partly an in-depth, educational discussion about the history of the CAA and western art markets, with the other part being hilarious stories from the organization’s past 56 years.
    -
    This event was the brainchild of CAA member and my good friend Teal Blake, who joined me on the podcast several years ago. Sitting on stage with me for the event were Fred Fellows, Jody Beeler, Bill Nebeker, Seth Hopkins, Tim Newton, Red Steagall, and Bruce Greene, all of whom are legends in the western art world– you can read more about all of them using the links in the episode notes. Each of these gentlemen brought a unique perspective and distinct experiences to the conversation. But across the board, they all share a deep love of the West, authentic artistic humility, and unwavering respect for the legacy of the CAA.
    -
    This conversation winds in and out of many fascinating (and sometimes hilarious) topics. We had great discussions about the creative process, the idea of fully committing to the life of an artist, and how mentorship plays a huge role in the artist’s journey. We discussed the CAA’s unprecedented longevity in the art world, and how the group’s annual trail ride plays an important role in building friendships and strong bonds between the artists. We talk about how the CAA selects new members, and how the organization has evolved artistically over the decades. There is no lack of sense of humor among these guys, so they share plenty of crazy stories about the pranks and practical jokes that they’ve played on each other over the past 56 years. You can hear from the audience’s laughter that everyone in the auditorium was having a great time.
    -
    I was honored to share a stage with these seven men, and I greatly appreciate Teal inviting me to be a part of such a special few days. Hope you enjoy!
    ---
    Cowboy Artists of America Episode Notes and Links: https://mountainandprairie.com/caa/ ---
    TOPICS DISCUSSED:
    2:40 - Introduction and gratitude
    4:55 - Fred Fellows’ journey from Northrop Aircraft to professional artist 13:20 - Jody talks about Joe Beeler’s focus and work ethic 15:40 - Bill Nebeker tells one of his world-famous jokes 18:40 - Bill discusses mentorship and art education for the next generation 25:40 - Seth Hopkins discusses the CAA’s longevity in the art world 28:10 - Tim Newton discusses how the CA began his journey in the art world 33:10 - Red Stegall talks about his deep respect for the CAA 38:40 - Bruce Greene discusses the balance of being an individual with being a member of a brotherhood of artists   46:25 - Fred discusses the CA trail ride 49:40 - Crazy pranks and funny stories from the trail ride 1:00:40 - What are the criteria for joining the CAA? 1:05:55 - What does the future of the CAA look like? 1:07:40 - Early days of selling western art, before there was a robust western art market 1:10:40 - How does CA pick trail ride locations 1:12:55 - How the CA built the western art market 1:16:10 - How the CA thinks about finding new artists in the future ---
    ABOUT MOUNTAIN & PRAIRIE:
    Mountain & Prairie - All Episodes Mountain & Prairie Shop Mountain & Prairie on Instagram Upcoming Events About Ed Roberson Support Mountain & Prairie Leave a Review on Apple Podcasts

    • 1 hr 27 min
    Chris Dombrowski, Part 2 - "The River You Touch"

    Chris Dombrowski, Part 2 - "The River You Touch"

    Chris Dombrowski is a Missoula-based writer, poet, teacher, and fishing guide, and he’s also the author of the excellent new book “The River You Touch: Making a Life on Moving Water.” If you’re a longtime Mountain & Prairie listener, you probably remember Chris’s first appearance on the podcast in which we discussed his first book “Body of Water” and his poetry collection, “Ragged Anthem.” Since that first conversation, Chris has become a great friend, sounding board, and supporter, and his generous spirit and creative commitment continue to be a huge source of inspiration for everything I’m trying to do here at Mountain & Prairie.
    -
    Like me, Chris is not originally from the West, but since moving here, he has built a meaningful, purpose-driven life that is deeply connected to the region’s rugged land and powerful rivers. Whether guiding fishing clients on the Big Hole, foraging food with his family, or hunting birds with his dog Zeke, the West’s wild places are a cornerstone of Chris’s life– professionally, personally, and spiritually. His new book “The River You Touch” offers rich insights into his journey from his home state of Michigan to his now-home of Montana, as well as his personal evolution as a husband, father, friend, and community member. Beautifully written, surprisingly vulnerable, and extremely inspiring, “The River You Touch” is one of the best books I’ve read this year.
    -
    Chris and I connected virtually and had a fun conversation about the book, fatherhood, adventure, writing, and much more. We started by discussing how “The River You Touch” came to be, which has an interesting connection to our first podcast conversation. We talk about his process of combining poetic prose with non-fiction narrative, as well as his desire to explore ideas around masculinity and vulnerability. We talk a lot about Jim Harrison– their friendship, Harrison’s genius, and his other-worldly work ethic. We discuss family, the blessing of having strong and tough wives, advice for aspiring writers, and more good book recommendations. Enjoy!

    ---
    Chris Dombrowski "The River Your Touch" by Chris Dombrowski Episode notes and links: https://mountainandprairie.com/chris-dombrowski-2/ ---
    TOPICS DISCUSSED:
    3:15 - Chris talks about how he came upon the idea that became his most recent book, The River You Touch 8:30 - Chris discusses his motivations for writing 14:30 - Chris talks about his writing process for The River Your Touch 20:30 - Chris discusses being vulnerable in his writing 30:30 - Chris talks about the need for more writing that discusses masculinity and vulnerability 34:45 - Chris discusses his relationship with Jim Harrison and how he operated with such a work hard, play hard mentality 42:15 - Chris explains the advice he received from Jim Harrison: “Don’t let your life become the sloppy leftovers of your work.” 45:45 - Chris reads a section from The River You Touch 48:30  - Chris discusses his thinking regarding having children and their environmental impact 51:45 - Chris talks about his wife and continuing his writing career after having children 54:15 - Chris discusses how he advises students who may not want to write as much as they think they do 1:00:15 - Chris talks about his audiobook narrator for The River You Touch 1:04:00 - Chris’s book recommendations ---
    ABOUT MOUNTAIN & PRAIRIE:
    Mountain & Prairie - All Episodes Mountain & Prairie Shop Mountain & Prairie on Instagram Upcoming Events About Ed Roberson Support Mountain & Prairie Leave a Review on Apple Podcasts

    • 1 hr 6 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
857 Ratings

857 Ratings

3mtboysandagirl ,

This gives me hope

I just finished the Monica Tranel podcast and between Ed’s incredibly thoughtful questions and Monica’s humanity in answering, it gave me the fresh dose of hope I needed in times such as these. Politics is not a dirty word during this conversation. Democracy is a verb and I feel compelled to invest.

manlike. ,

A conversation I needed to hear.

I’m not sure how I missed your podcast up to this point.As I was listening to you and Mark Kenyon having a sensible conversation about humans interacting with the natural world— I looked through your previous episodes. As I was seeing conversations I was looking toward forward to hearing— it made me a little sad that Edward Abbey couldn’t be here for this part. To see his mission carried forward by thinking people.

I was hooked when Mark listed Desert Solitaire as his first book and it made me happy to hear Cactus Ed discussed with due affection and respect. He hit things hard at a time when issues needed to be hit hard. And he kept his sense of humour. I’m already looking forward to the Chouinard interview.

Peace.

Ps. When I started reading Blood Meridian I remember being on a flight over the Atlantic and halfway through I got to a point where Cormac McCarthy had pushed so many buttons I shut the book and didn’t go back to it for a whole frigging year. Later I got cocky and was listening to it as an audiobook working in an impossibly tight crawlspace and my trouble light broke at a really bad moment. I don’t pretty much don’t do crawlspaces anymore.

tytwalters ,

An honest portrait of the new west

I have no idea how I have missed this podcast until recently. I’ve been diligently catching up on the last several years on my daily commute. So many amazing and inspiring stories from some people I’ve known of, but more importantly those I’m just learning about. With so much glamorization of the American west in modern media, it’s refreshing to know there are like minded individuals who value this landscape for what it truly is.

Top Podcasts In Society & Culture

iHeartPodcasts
Glennon Doyle & Cadence13
Joe Rogan Experience Review podcast
Michael Hobbes & Peter Shamshiri
KUOW News and Information
Pushkin Industries

You Might Also Like

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
Duct Tape Then Beer
Outside Magazine
Mill House
NHPR
April Vokey