Melodie Edwards

Reporter

Phone: 307-766-2405
Email: medward9@uwyo.edu   

Melodie Edwards covers a wide variety of Wyoming topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture. She is currently working on a civil discourse project called, “I Respectfully Disagree,” interviewing people in the state who are modeling how people find compromise to make change. She is the recipient of a national PRNDI award for her investigation of the reservation housing crisis and several regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, two for "best use of sound."

Melodie grew up in Walden, Colorado where her father worked in the oilfield and timber industries and her mother was the editor of the Jackson County Star. She graduated with an MFA from the University of Michigan on a Colby Fellowship and received two Hopwood Awards there for fiction and nonfiction. She is the recipient of the Doubleday Wyoming Arts Council Award for Women and is the author of Hikes Around Fort Collins published by Pruett Publishing. Melodie and her husband own Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse. She also loves to putz in the garden, and hike and ski in the mountains with her daughters and her dad.

Ways to Connect

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Back in November, conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager spoke to a packed audience at the University of Wyoming. After the applause died down a bit, he said, “I’m sure not all of you feel that enthusiastic about seeing me but nevertheless…”

And it was true. Many students weren’t enthusiastic for him to come, calling some of his talks racist and sexist. In fact, they argued university money shouldn’t be used to pay for such controversial speakers.

University of Wyoming

After years of going without one, the University of Wyoming has hired a new Native American Program Advisor. President Laurie Nichols has said the goal is to try to increase the Native student enrollment so that it better reflects the Native population in the state.

University of Wyoming

At the end of last semester, the University of Wyoming hired Wind River tribal member Reinette Tendore to recruit Native American students and help them feel more welcome on campus.

The Eastern Shoshone tribe is moving to adopt the Violence Against Women Act in an effort to better prosecute sexual assaults of Native women from the Wind River Reservation. The hope is that the law will help overcome a jurisdiction gap between tribal and federal justice systems.

US Fish and Wildlife Service

Very few of the elk that winter every year on the National Elk Refuge outside Jackson are making their traditional long migration all the way to Yellowstone National Park for generations, and wildlife biologists are worried they’ll eventually forget the route altogether.

Carol Edwards

This holiday season, the Wyoming Public Radio news team is sharing stories about memories and traditions that stand out to them.

When I was in fourth grade, my belief in Santa Claus reached a fever pitch. Growing up in the isolated mountain town of Walden on the Colorado/Wyoming border, there wasn’t much else to do in the winter. But I wasn’t the only zealot. In Walden, the Christmas spirit took over like a communal madness.

Joe Giersch, USGS

Scientists at the University of Wyoming have discovered an insect thought to be extinct in the region in four streams in the Tetons.

The glacier stonefly was believed to only survive in streams in Glacier National Park and the Beartooth Absorka Range in Montana. UW Invertebrate Zoologist Lusha Tronstad said the discovery has put the decision-making process on hold over whether to list the species.

Anna Rader

As part of our series, “I Respectfully Disagree,” Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards journeyed into the heart of Wyoming’s coal country to the city of Gillette up in the northeast corner. Recently, it’s become an intensely divided community. In the last election, Wyoming went in greater percentage to Donald Trump than any other state, but Campbell County was one of the counties that supported Trump more than any other in Wyoming.

Associated Press

Only about 50 percent of Native American students graduate high school, compared to 80 percent of white students. That’s one reason why the Wyoming Department of Education teamed up with the North Central Comprehensive Center, a national education contractor, to conduct listening sessions in each of the three school districts on the Wind River Reservation.

Tom Koerner, USFWS Mountain-Plains

 

Last winter, protestors packed committee meetings after lawmakers proposed a constitutional amendment to allow the state of Wyoming to take over management of federal lands. Republican Senator Larry Hicks supported the idea, but he was open to other options. So, he reached out to Shane Cross and the Wyoming Wildlife Federation and challenged them to come with a compromise.

Wyoming's outdated housing stock needs replacing, but resources to make that happen are limited. That's left most counties in the state in need of more low-income housing, according to a new Wyoming Business Council report

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

In early November, protests broke out at the University of Wyoming over an invitation to conservative radio host Dennis Prager to speak on campus. On Wednesday, December 6, the UW debate team will face members of the conservative student group, Turning Point USA, that invited Prager to discuss the decision.

USFWS Mountain Prairie

The elusive swift fox is gaining in numbers on the western half of the state, according to recent surveys by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

Swift foxes and are much smaller than the red fox and hunt small mammals on the prairie, usually at night. That’s why wildlife biologists have been surprised to hear more reports of the animal closer to the mountains. Non-game biologist Nichole Bjornlie said they’ve been seen as far west as Lander.

Scott Copeland-The Nature Conservancy

There are thousands of abandoned mines in Wyoming. But recently Lander middle schoolers helped plant sage brush to help reclaim one mine near Jeffrey City.

The Bureau of Land Management teamed up with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, The Nature Conservancy and other conservation groups to teach kids about the value of the sage brush steppe ecosystem. BLM archeologist Gina Clingerman said you can’t just toss sage brush seeds out and expect them to thrive. That’s why she taught kids to plant seedlings.

junaidrao on Flickr

After allegations of sexual assault piled up against Harvey Weinstein, Wind River movie director Taylor Sheridan announced he would donate all future royalties to a Montana-based Native American women’s advocacy group. The film was originally distributed by the Weinstein Company and is about the rape and murder of a Northern Arapaho woman.

Lucy Simpson, director of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, said her organization is still in shock over the announcement.

Darrah Perez

Half of American Indians living in native majority areas say they or a family member feel they’ve been treated unfairly by the courts, according to a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It’s a lack of justice that Wind River Reservation residents say they live with every day. Now the tribes are working together to solve the problem.

One morning, Northern Arapaho member Rose was sitting at the table with her 14-year-old daughter, Latoya.

Photo by Erik (HASH) Hersman via CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

State and county officials have formed a task force to address Wyoming’s aging election equipment. Teton County Clerk Sherry Daigle said it’s now ten years old and the technology has gotten behind the times.

“Technology is outdated the day you put it into effect because it moves so fast,” she said. “And a lot of the equipment we have is, you know, they’re computer scanners and readers. So we wanted to make sure we’re not behind the eight ball.”

Mark R. / Flickr

U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney has sponsored an amendment that would weaken the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 on the eve of its 100-year anniversary.

National Audubon Society Policy Advisor Erik Schneider said the Act shouldn’t be changed because for 100 years, it has protected North American birds effectively. It was adopted in the early 1900s when bird plumes were fashionable on lady's hats and clothing.

Schneider also said the amendment gives an advantage to the energy industry.

Joe Giersch of USGS

As climate change melts away glaciers, it’s also drying up the habitat of two insects who live in the cold mountain streams that flow out of those glaciers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether to list them as endangered. According to the Fish and Wildlife biologist James Boyd, warming temperatures are causing the glacier stonefly and the meltwater lednian stonefly’s habitat to shrink and what’s left of it to become too hot.

Photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM via CC BY-NC-ND 2 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Last February, the 10th Circuit Court ruled that the city of Riverton is not inside the Wind River Reservation boundaries, prompting the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes to ask for another hearing. This week, the court rejected that request. Wind River Native Advocacy Center board chair Sergio Maldonado said the next step for the dispute is the U.S. Supreme Court.

The mission of the Censible Nutrition Program is to get low-income families eating healthier food and this year they decided to grow that food from seed.

In Natrona and Bighorn Counties, the University of Wyoming extension program collaborated with local groups to create community gardens, getting kids and adults doing physical activity as they cultivated food.

Program Director Mindy Meuli said, they ended up giving away over 400 pounds of zucchini, potatoes, cantaloupe and other produce. She said there’s a real need for such foods in parts of Wyoming.  

Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum

Comic books get kids reading and thinking about complex issues. That's definitely the case for an art show now up at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. All the comic book art in this show is by Native American artists.

 

The museum's marketing director Morgan Marks gave Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards a tour that started with the illustrated robe of the great Eastern Shoshone Chief Washakie, showing just how deeply ingrained picture storytelling is in Native American cultures.

CC0 Public Domain

Half of the 12 wolf hunting zones in the Greater Yellowstone area have closed earlier than the December 31 deadline because quotas were already met. Meanwhile, 25 wolves were killed just outside that protected zone where no quotas are enforced.

Wyoming Game and Fish large carnivore biologist Ken Mills said one reason so many wolves are getting shot is that it’s the first hunting season most have experienced in their lives. 

CC0 Creative Commons

Residents in the town of Jackson living near Snow King Resort need to be more vigilant about keeping garbage locked away so bears can’t raid it. According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, there’s been a rash of hungry bears entering town limits as they fatten up to hibernate for the winter.

Department spokesman Mark Gocke said people are waiting too long to report bear sightings. He said one black bear received over 20 food rewards, such as garbage, bird seed, and crabapples before it was reported to them.

Joe Riis

It’s only been in the last few years that scientists have realized that pronghorn, elk and mule deer are migrating rugged terrain over hundreds of miles to reach the best grazing around Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

It’s almost impossible to conceive what these animals endure on those journeys. But that’s what wildlife photographer Joe Riis set out to document through pictures.

Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards talked to him about his new book, Yellowstone Migrations…and how he got into photography in the first place.

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