Leah Vader and Lynne Huskinson
Wildlife Biologist/environmental educator(Leah); Retired heavy equipment operator (Lynne))
Longtime residents of a coal community in decline
"Wyoming is home to only about half a million people, and we still have all the clout of two United States Senators, but that hasn't translated into federal policy that protects our people or our environment."
In March 2016, 465 coal miners were laid off in our community of roughly 30,000, having widespread impact. My (Leah) work as a wildlife biologist/environmental educator kept me away from Gillette, but certainly aware and concerned. After the election, the mood at home was very optimistic. However, in the places I worked, the growing effects of climate change combined with eroding federal support for regulatory protections led me to eventually leave those jobs and come home to stay as of May 2019. Since Lynne's job ended (July 1, 2019, over 600 workers laid off/locked out) our community life has expanded with activities including local and state politics, non-partisan organizations, parish social justice efforts, and through our women's spirituality/action group. Wyoming is in the news lately with drastic and ongoing state budget cuts. We now see our work, after our jobs, as joining with others, both in and out of Wyoming, to see our state through the difficult transition from an extractive to a sustainable economy.