Roller Coaster Musings

Curtis Talbot, SRM Director

One of the side benefits of being associated with SRM finances is the interaction with the Society’s investment advisors.  Our current advisor with Merrill Lynch, C.B. Wagner, recently shared the following slide during meetings with the Board of Directors, Finance Committee and Endowment Fund Development Committee:
This invoked childhood memories of roller coasters and watching those with both hands raised in the air while racing along the track, clearly enjoying the carnival-induced adrenaline rush.  On the same coaster, would be those with a white-knuckle grip on the handles; faces a weird shade of green, and seemingly praying that the next three minutes wouldn’t end in an untimely death.  I figured the same emotions are somehow experienced while riding the cycle of the investment markets, as both the risk-embracers and the risk-averse experience the ups and downs of their accounts.  In SRM, I have thoroughly enjoyed witnessing how the collective insight of Officers and Directors, plus advice from other committees and individuals, seems to always moderate the investment extremes.  Neither the arm-raiser, nor the white-knuckler alone could produce the steady and reliable performance of our investments.

I also drew a mental correlation that this cycle, and our visceral reaction to it, can also be applied to other areas of our lives that are subject to change.  I suspect that a large number of SRM members have felt at least a measured amount of uncertainty towards the future of our ability to manage our rangelands.  While changes in political administrations, volatile markets, erratic climate change, etc., are expected and cyclical in nature, it does seem that the roller coaster is increasing in intensity.  Now, if I were much wiser, perhaps I could distill some sage advice about how best to navigate the course.  Answers have I none.  Instead, I often find myself sticking my finger into the winds of change, trying to predict from which direction the storm is coming, and then wondering how conditions can change so quickly.

This is where I truly value my SRM membership.  I appreciate my association with those who have been around the track multiple times, placing stock in their experience and wisdom.  I also appreciate the association with those embracing the ride for the first time, and the excitement and energy they bring to the picture.  Beside the camaraderie and friendships developed over the years, SRM also provides me with a distinct comfort that, collectively, we can weather the storms of uncertainty as we engage in the management of the landscapes and resources that have drawn us together.

I thank all of you for your commitment, passion, and dedication, both for our professional society and for rangelands in general.  Bring on the roller coasters!

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