The concept of Midwest Conservation Dogs was created in February 2016, when Laura Holder, our Co-founder and Executive Director, received a phone call from Kristin Gies, the Executive Director of Mequon Nature Preserve (MNP). Kristin had recently returned from a professional conference where she saw a conservation dog demonstration from Working Dogs for Conservation, the longest tenured organization in the U.S. offering detection canine teams for conservation-focused efforts. Kristin wanted to bring this innovative, earth-friendly method to MNP and reached out to Laura to help develop an on-staff dog/handler team that could be utilized on the 400+ acre property. From there, Laura looped in another local dog trainer to help MNP’s vision become a reality; helping them identify a purpose-bred puppy (Tilia) that could be raised and trained alongside the selected staff member who would become her handler. Tilia arrived at MNP in August of 2016, and her foundation training began that October. The foundation training for Team Tilia spanned the course of 18 months, which included her first successful fieldwork season.
Passion for detection dogs combined with commitment to conservation fueled the desire to make the idea of conservation dogs in the midwest an official venture. And thus, Midwest Conservation Dogs, Inc.was officially born as a 501(c)3 organization with the IRS in January 2017.
Since our inception, Midwest Conservation Dogs, Inc. has worked throughout the upper midwest region, providing professionally trained scent detection dog/handler teams for a variety of organizations and groups. Working alongside researchers and scientists, our teams have helped eradicate invasive species, locate endangered turtles, and assist with monitoring efforts for keystone species. In 2019, we launched our Pollinator Program to specifically focus our talents on the restoration and preservation of critical pollinators.
In addition to providing detection services, we are extremely passionate about educating our communities. In 2018, we began providing educational programs for groups of all ages and in 2019 we received a $10,000 grant from United Way/Stacy’s Pita’s Chips to directly support educational visits for youth groups.
The future of Midwest Conservation Dogs, Inc. is exciting. We’ve got big plans to add to our project library, new partnerships that support further growth, and an incredible talented team; all of which help us to continue living out our mission of advancing conservation efforts!