Savory and Holistic Management at International Bison Conference

Jul 19, 2017

Written by Sarah Gleason, Savory Director or Marketing and Communication

The International Bison Conference is held once every five years and alternates the location between the United States and Canada.  This year, the event was hosted in Big Sky, Montana with over 600 attendees comprised of ranchers, tribal representatives, conservation groups, and bison merchants.  The impressive line up of speakers began with a keynote from Dr. James Hurrell from the National Center for Atmospheric Research where he began the climate change discussion with his talk: ‘The Climate, It is a Changin’.  Along with climate discussions, the event included breakout sessions covering bison health, bison marketing and branding, and bison restoration.  The National Bison Association (NBA) announced its Bison 1 Million campaign which desires to take the bison population from an estimated 391,000 to  1 million in North America.

It was not possible to attend the conference and not hear of Savory or Holistic Management.  At the welcoming event of the first night, singer/song-writer, Michael Martin Murphy, gave an incredible performance complete with multiple references to Allan Savory and an over 3 minute long story of his first encounter with Allan and holistic management which transformed his personal ranch in southwest New Mexico.  Savory CEO, Daniela Ibarra-Howell, then presented her keynote titled, “Managing for Success in a Changing Climate” on the first full day of the program.  She invited the NBA Executive Director, Dave Carter, and 777 Bison Ranch owner, Mimi Hillenbrand, to join her on stage and discuss their own experiences with managing holistically and the affect that it has had in their lives and on their land.  Carter owns interest in the bison which are managed on the newly acquired Savory West Bijou Ranch east of Denver, and Hillenbrand has been a long-time partner of Savory with over 30 years of holistic management practice.


Savory also had a well-positioned booth at the event where hundreds of attendees were able to locate their region’s Savory Hub, learn more about becoming a Savory Accredited Professional or a Savory Hub, learn more about holistic management, or simply ask questions of the Savory staff.  The conference included a film festival in which Savory’s film, The Story of Meat, was shown.  This episode highlights the Savory global hub network and their work with local producers, the brands that want to support this work, and their incredible stories of hope and regeneration.  Epic Bar was also in attendance and contributed their film in partnership with NorthStar Bison to the film festival, highlighting the power of holistic management and what can be accomplished when great partners come together.

Savory Director of Corporate Development, Bobby Gill, with Sally Ranney, President of AREI, and Ted Turner at the Flying D Ranch. 

The conference ended with a break-taking trip to Ted Turner’s Flying D Ranch outside Bozeman, MT.  Here attendees had the opportunity to see thousands of bison grazing beautiful pastures and hear closing remarks from the NBA, The Hartman Group Research Firm, Quivera Coalition/National Young Farmers, and the Center for Rural Affairs.

Throughout the event, the theme of climate change and the role of bison, regenerative agriculture, and proper management permeated conversations.  With such a strong presence by Savory, the interest in becoming part of our global network, or at the very least, learning to manage holistically, was great. We look forward to fostering new relationships, offering resources and education to many more producers, and supporting the National Bison Association and Canadian Bison Association in their endeavors.

6 Responses

  1. Tom Hamilton says:

    Man, I would have loved to attend the Bison conference.
    It would sure help if we knew about it before it happened.
    I would like to get involved helping the Bison in Alberta and Montana, especially if there is an opportunity through Savory.
    Any suggestions?
    Thank you.

    • Sarah Gleason says:

      Hi Tom, Thank you for your comment. The National Bison Association website is full of information and their upcoming events at Savory does not currently have a hub in Alberta or Montana that have bison, but I would recommend reaching out to the NBA to see if there are possibilities to get involved. You can also post on their news board that you are interested and willing. There is also the Canadian Bison Association that can connect you as well. Hope this helps!

  2. Hello Savorys,

    Sorry to have missed this event.

    Bison are the only native species we are missing on our 32,000-acre far-West Texas ranch where we have free roaming populations of bighorn, pronghorn, elk and mule deer. We tried a small herd of adolescent bison which would not stay put, moved 30-miles and bedded down on an interstate access road where they caused a wreck which led to litigation.

    Notwithstanding that mess, I would like to explore how we might do this again, and maintain a stable herd without high fences. John Poindexter at Cibolo Creek has done this. Any ideas?

    Regards to my friends at Savory especially Daniella.

    Chris Gill

    • Sarah Gleason says:

      Hi Christopher,

      Thank you for your comments. We would definitely advise you to learn holistic management as a start. You can begin with the online courses we offer, and we also have a great Savory Hub in Texas called the Grassfed Sustainability Group: They would be an incredible resource for you. It sounds like you have a good resources in John regarding the fencing for bison, but we would be happy to help you work through the decision-making process are you incorporate this new species!

  3. Jared says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I was only recently introduced to the Savory Institute through a Podcast put on by Epic Provisions. I have been working on a restaurant concept for a year now that will start on the road with a mobile kitchen until I find my flagship location in the Black Hills of South Dakota and eventually throughout the Northern Plains States. I am proud to say that I am sourcing my Bison through Wild Idea Buffalo Co. in Rapid City. My restaurant’s mission is much bigger than tasty food, I am going to educate folks on the benefits of holistic practices versus that status quo sourcing from large food conglomerates who use the industrial farming complex to achieve better margins.

    I recently shared your post on increasing the herd to over one million head of bison in North America and wondered if Savory or your affiliates have any resources for folks like me that are bringing this to the consumer? I plan on getting in the trenches and attending events like the Yoga Wanderlust series as well as touring the major ski resorts in Jackson Hole, White Fish, Sun Valley, Park City, Etc… I feel these types of events will have a group that see the benefits of eating 100% grass fed animals that are locally sources but I also feel there will be a ton of vegan/ vegetarians that can be educated on the real impact of row cropping soy, almonds, and other vegan staples as compared to the impact of properly raised livestock.

    I am hoping to find connections with grant writers and or introductions that would like to partner on my efforts.

    Thank you!


    • Sarah Gleason says:

      Hi Jared,

      So happy to hear that you are taking on this mission. We do have resources and other partners who are working towards the same goals. Please send me an email at Sgleason@savory.globa so we can discuss further!

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