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The Prairie Revealed

Gib Myers’ first trip to American Prairie Reserve was not quite what he pictured. It was September 2002, and autumn came early as the weather turned cold and wet.

“We got rained out,” he remembers. “We couldn’t get anywhere we wanted to go because of the mud. It was miserable, and yet everybody loved it. We got the vision for the Reserve, we believed in it, and knew right away we wanted to be involved.”

Large boulder on the prairie at sunset.

He and his wife Susan knew American Prairie Reserve Founder Sean Gerrity when he was working in California, but it was their daughter Sarah who first encouraged them to explore the prairie. She had a summer job at American Prairie and urged her parents to visit, which they did that memorable fall. The Myers have been loyal supporters ever since. Gib served as Chair of the American Prairie National Board of Directors from 2003 to 2013, and he and Susan continue to serve as board members today. They make the journey to visit the prairie from their California home several times a year, although Gib wishes they could visit more often.

In addition to his philanthropic giving, Gib brought his passion for photography to the prairie. It’s difficult to overstate the impact of his photographic contributions; they have been nothing short of essential to sharing with the world the beauty and importance of this ecosystem. His work can be seen throughout our website, across our social media channels, in magazine articles about American Prairie, and adorning the walls of our offices and visitor facilities across the Reserve.

A herd of elk moves across the prairie.

Looking at his photos, a viewer might think they were created effortlessly. The reality, Gib explains, was not so easy.

“It was very frustrating at first,” he remembers with a wry laugh. “In a way, you don’t know where to start on the prairie, plus I was only up there for a few days at a time. I struggled for sure.”

None of that struggle is evident in his work. Gib’s images evoke the absolute vastness of the prairie, the unique character of the landscape, and the mercurial moods of the endlessly changing sky. With meticulous attention to color, he captures the prairie’s vibrant hues, and he also invites the viewer to take the time to look closer and explore subtleties and simple details.

“You just can’t approach it too quickly,” he says with precise and earnest sincerity. “You have to slow down and let the landscape and environment talk to you and show you where the pictures are.”

Cottonwood tree grove in summer.

The prairie has shown him a lot in his years with American Prairie. He has donated more than 5,000 images to the organization and even researched and installed a new computer system to help our team organize and archive tens of thousands of images.

His passion for the prairie is evident in every conversation about American Prairie. That same passion is apparent in his conspicuous absence from camp every time the golden hour once again lures him onto the landscape in search of the next great image.

“I always miss breakfast and cocktail hour,” he jokes.

Judith River and surrounding area in sunshine with low clouds hanging over river.

Before he visited in 2002, Gib had little experience with the prairie. Now, almost 20 years later, he says the prairie continues to reveal the beauty and tranquility he and Susan discovered on that first rainy visit.

“The prairie is something that grows on you. If you’re rushing it, you’re missing it. Much of what I like about the prairie is that you have to slow down to appreciate it and it will come to you. Many of the great photos come to you. The best shots will reveal themselves.”

His meditative approach to photography overlaps precisely with his love of the land and his commitment to lifelong learning. For Gib, there is always something new to discover and share with the world. And fortunately for us, those passions continue to call him back to the prairie.

A person paddling a canoe on the Missouri River surrounded by large cliffs.

 

View the Summer 2020 Sentinel