You are in the right place if you want to learn about buffalo-friendly organizations, become a member, volunteer, attend a conference, or donate. Below you will find a short list that barely scratches the surface. Download a comprehensive list of organizations– and let us know if we missed something great.
Note: Including an organization on this list does not imply promotion or recommendation to join or provide support. We recommend that you research all organizations to ensure they are consistent with your values and standards before committing your time and/or funds.
Non-Profit Organizations- State/National Parks and Refuges
“Friends of” groups are the funding and educational backbone of many public lands. Dedicated people devote their skills, time, and energy to enriching visitor experiences and protecting wildlife and lands. They lead tours, maintain parks, support science, educate, serve as volunteer rangers, and more. You can join, donate, and pitch in. Here are just a few examples!
Yellowstone Forever is the official education and fundraising partner of the National Park. Friends of Theodore Roosevelt National Park advocates for the park, raising public awareness, engaging youth, and raising funds for projects. Badlands Natural History Association– supports education and research at Badlands National Park.
And now for something completely different
A non-profit organization supports natural areas around Fermilab. You may not know that Fermilab, “America’s particle physics and accelerator laboratory”, maintains a small conservation herd of plains buffalo to connect to the Chicago area’s prairie heritage. Fermilabs Natural Areas enhances natural areas and supports college internships. Volunteers and donations welcome.
Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences accepts donations to support the Laramie Hills Bison Conservation Herd. This special project involved many partners, including scientists who used advanced reproductive techniques to produce a disease-free herd of buffalo with Yellowstone genetics.
Non-Profit Organizations- Museums and Historic Sites
“Friends of” groups aren’t only for parks and recreation areas. Check with your local museum or historic site to see if you can volunteer as a tour guide, help out in the office or gift shop, or pitch in at events. You may also be able to contribute as a member and/or a donor.
Non-Profit Organizations- Buffalo Conservation
While the majority of buffalo live in private herds, non-profits are working through partnerships and land purchases to create conservation herds. Here are a few examples.
American Prairie Reserve is working to create the largest nature reserve in the United States. The organization’s goal is to restore and preserve prairies as complete ecosystems for generations to come, including a growing bison herd. APR offers recreational opportunities and welcomes volunteers, members, and donors.
The Nature Conservancy has a range of initiatives across the country. TNC manages 13 bison herds (about 5,500 animals) on 125,000 acres in five states and Mexico. TNC carries out research and provides animals to other conservation herds. TNC provides opportunities to view buffalo, volunteer, join, and donate. TNC has unique partnerships like Zapata Ranch, where Ranchlands, LLC operates a working buffalo and cattle ranch. For a taste of ranch life, watch the trailer for Duke and the Buffalo (complete film short here).
The World Wildlife Fund has raised funds to support the Badlands National Park bison herd, and works with tribes restoring bison herds to their lands. Their goal is to establish five herds of at least 1,000 animals each by 2025.
The American Bison Society was founded in 1905 to save bison from extinction, and considered their job done in 1935, when the ABS disbanded. The organization is back under the umbrella of the Wildlife Conservation Society to ensure a future for bison. WCS created a great story map about bison for the 2016 Banff bison conference.
Tribal governments, organizations, and their partners are restoring a 10,000 year old relationship between First Peoples and buffalo.
The InterTribal Buffalo Council (ITBC) has a membership of 58 tribes in 19 states with a collective herd of over 15,000 buffalo. ITBC is “committed to reestablishing buffalo herds on Indian lands in a manner that promotes cultural enhancement, spiritual revitalization, ecological restoration, and economic development.” The ITBC is working to make each tribal herd successful and coordinates transfer of excess bison from federal lands to tribal lands.
The Tanka Fund is a national program to “return buffalo to the land, diets, and economies of American Indian people.” The Tanka Returns project has a goal of returning one million acres of reservation land for buffalo herds. Everyone can participate by donating and purchasing products.
Commercial Bison Associations
Buffalo ranches are proliferating, and producers are scrambling to keep up with demand. There are many associations, collectives, and sourcing partnerships that establish standards for animal care, reproduction, and production. Today’s ranchers are as Web-savvy as any business, so you can search and find online resources for associations throughout North America and abroad.
The National Bison Association counts 1,110 members in the United States and 10 foreign countries. The NBA has established a Code of Ethics for its members to “ensure the humane and sustainable raising of the American bison.” The Canadian Bison Association is a non-profit resource for bison ranchers, with six regional associations.
The NBA provides a list of websites for associations across the continent, and for public herds as well.
Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska, is the place to go to learn about the people and the environment of the Great Plains.
The Great Plains Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (GP-CESU) “is a network of 16 academic institutions in the Great Plains region and eight federal agencies. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln serves as host to the GP-CESU. The unit … offers an outstanding group of scientists in grasslands, ecosystems studies, and natural and cultural resources management for collaborative research, technical assistance and educational opportunities in the CESU.” The 17 national CESU units include federal agencies, a host agency, and participating universities.
Center for Mountains and Plains Archeology, Colorado State University, is a research facility focused on the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. Colorado State University is also contributing to bison conservation at Laramie Hills.
Athabasca University was established in 1970 and specializes in distance learning for people who can’t get to a classroom. People from across the world can take online courses in anthropology and archeology. AU Press is an open press source of award-winning books at no cost.