One of the first things Kathy Jenkins did after retiring from her position as a staff attorney for a Wyoming Supreme Court justice was reach out to a Wyoming Outdoor Council board member to ask about volunteer opportunities. After a career in which she’d felt limited in her ability to get involved in advocacy and nonprofit work, Kathy was ready to roll up her sleeves to protect a place she loved.
That was back in 2016. Now Kathy serves on the executive committee of the Outdoor Council’s board of directors and has hosted two successful outreach events in her Cheyenne home with her husband, Mike Shonsey.
She has also become one of the Council’s staunchest supporters.
“The energy at WOC these days is palpable,” Kathy said. “Lisa McGee has pulled together a highly skilled, energetic, and committed staff and it’s exciting to watch them do their work at the legislature and in other public arenas around the state.”
Born and raised in Casper, Kathy’s passion for conservation stems from a lifelong connection to Wyoming first forged by her parents, who moved here in 1948 so her father could pursue a master’s degree in geology. Despite their different backgrounds — Kathy’s mother grew up in a comfortable home in Oakland, Calif., and her father on a small farm in the Appalachian Mountains with no indoor plumbing or electricity — they both embraced Wyoming’s wild places.
It was a shared love they passed down to their daughter. “Thanks to my father, I grew up learning about the unrivaled geology in Wyoming. And thanks to both my parents, I grew up camping, hiking, and fishing all over the state.”
Those firsthand experiences with Wyoming’s rugged backyard nurtured Kathy as a child, and they continue to nurture her today. An avid hiker, backpacker, and cross-country skier, Kathy understands the importance of preserving Wyoming’s special public lands, wildlife, and clean air and water — not only for her own enjoyment, but for the benefit of generations to come.
She also understands just how much is at stake right now.
New policies out of Washington, D.C., that prioritize fossil fuel extraction over other uses of public lands have put millions of acres of wild lands and sensitive habitat — the heart of our state’s outdoor heritage — in the crosshairs. The same policies also threaten Wyoming’s clean air and water, and exacerbate conditions that cause climate change.
“These are perilous times for our environment,” Kathy said. “It’s urgent that we do all we can to protect what makes Wyoming unique.”
For Kathy, doing all she can to protect Wyoming means donating not only her time, energy, and experience to the Outdoor Council, but giving her financial support as well.
She understands the importance of ensuring that Wyoming’s homegrown statewide conservation group has the necessary resources — year after year — to advocate effectively for the issues she cares so deeply about. And she urges others who share her concern for Wyoming’s wild places to join her in making a meaningful gift to the Council.
“Do it,” she said. “Give as much as you can.”
WOC is doing incredible work right now,” she added. “It’s great to be a part of that.”