The Don Aldrich Award
Harold Knapp - 1986
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1953 from the University of Montana, Harold Knapp married Gail Taylor and served in the U.S. Army for two years. Upon returning to Montana, Harold again attended UM to earn a master’s degree in forestry and wildlife technology. His master’s thesis, “Aspects of insect populations of the Bitterroot River Montana” reveals his passion for Western Montana waterways which became the focus throughout his career. Harold next embarked on a successful teaching career in the Flathead and Missoula Valleys between the years 1958-1987.
While teaching, Harold fostered a love for the outdoors and conservation among countless numbers of high school students. He received several awards including Outstanding Biology Teacher of the Year for Montana from the National Association of Biology Teachers in 1968 while serving as Hellgate High School’s science department chairman.
As a passionate hunter and fisherman, Harold believed strongly in conserving the Montana landscape and wildlife that he held so dear. Harold created courses focused on field work and collaborated with the Fish and Game Department to give his classes hands-on experience with wildlife reintroduction projects. Among his many accomplishments in the 1980s, Harold led teams of students who placed nesting supplies and boxes to encourage breeding of species including bluebirds and geese in the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge and along rivers throughout Western Montana. Harold also inspired students with his forestry expertise and fire ecology lessons, many of whom would undertake Forest Service careers of their own.
In recognition of his outstanding volunteer leadership and mentoring for conservation, Harold received the second award ever given by the Missoula Conservation Roundtable – the Don Aldrich Award in 1986.
When Harold retired from teaching in 1987, his conservation efforts continued throughout the 1990s. In 1996, he collaborated with various state and federal agencies alongside the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) to reintroduce trumpeter swans as a breeding flock to the Flathead Valley. He was also recognized for his conservation efforts on the Bison Range. Due to his long list of achievements, in 1997 Harold received The Wildlife Society Montana Chapter Distinguished Service Award.
Harold Knapp exemplified Montana conservation and preservation. He spearheaded ongoing wildlife reintroduction projects, inspired students to appreciate the outdoors, and helped them to secure similar career paths. Harold passed away on January 30, 2014.
Biography by Kymberly MacEwan