Missoula Conservation Roundtable News

Our annual awards event takes place in the late summer or fall. It’s been held at Smoke and Thelma Elser’s historic barn in a room surrounded by reminders of many years’ worth of outdoor adventures. Roundtable members are notified of the awards event well in advance. Attendance is limited but if there’s still leftover capacity after members’ RSVPs have been received we’ll welcome non-members’ attendance as well. An invitation to the general public will be on this news page along with RSVP information.

News about members that would interest other members and the public, both good news about members’ accomplishments as well as unwelcome news, will also appear on this page.

31 Aug 2023: Annual awards presented for 2023

The Missoula Conservation Roundtable honored six area residents at its annual awards dinner the evening of August 31st at Smoke and Thelma Elser’s historic barn in the Rattlesnake. Seventy-two members and guests enjoyed an evening of congeniality and celebration. Honorees were recognized for their important contributions to the nurturing and protection of our natural environment. Over the past three decades, the Roundtable has recognized more than 100 folks for conserving the lands, water, and wildlife in the valleys surrounding Missoula.

Karen Sippy received the Roundtable’s Don Aldrich Award for her tireless, volunteer advocacy for Missoula’s urban forest. She is a founding member and volunteer executive director of Trees for Missoula (TFM). Since 2011, she has worked closely with Missoula’s Urban Forestry Division, to identify how the community and TFM volunteers could best promote a healthy urban forest. The award is named after a pioneer Montana volunteer conservationist, the late Donald Aldrich.

Germaine White received the Arnold Bolle Award. Germaine’s career as a natural resource educator for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes has made lasting contributions to communities across western Montana. She has devoted her long career to developing and promoting innovative natural resource educational materials that blend Indigenous ways of knowing with western science. She’s been a bridge-builder between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and other communities in western Montana, including Missoula. The Bolle Award’s namesake is the late Dr. Arnold Bolle, former dean of the University of Montana’s School of Forestry, whose life demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to conservation.

Seamus Land was honored with the Emerging Conservationist Award, recognizing emerging leadership in the field of natural resource management or environmental protection. Seamus’ remarkable commitment to the study of Grant Creek and his collaboration with residents are first steps in the creek’s restoration. Seamus began studying Grant Creek as part of his master’s degree in environmental studies (EVST) from the University of Montana.

Casey Ryan, recipient of the 2021 Emerging Conservationist Award, was recognized belatedly due to the Covid-cancellation of the awards event that year. He is currently a hydrologist with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. In addition to his professional responsibilities, he serves on several area councils and advisory boards. Casey’s warm, enthusiastic leadership sustains natural resources by building knowledge and relationships across generations and cultures.

The Roundtable recognized three honorees with the Lifetime Award for distinguished, well-recognized accomplishments in environmental conservation over a long period of time. Lifetime honorees were George Bettas, Kathy and Wayne Hadley, and Roy and Susan O’Connor.

George Bettas has for decades been an exceptionally effective leader in wildlife conservation and education. George’s leadership has left his footprint on numerous conservation organizations and projects over many years (both locally and nationally), and has positively influenced an untold number of young conservationists and hunters.

Kathy and Wayne Hadley were leaders initiating efforts to clean up the Clark Fork River. Kathy co-founded the Clark Fork Coalition and continued her natural resource advocacy both as a volunteer and a professional, most recently as Director of the National Center for Appropriate Technology. Wayne passed away in March of this year. He had a 23-year career as a fisheries biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. He was strongly outspoken in support of policies and practices that strengthened our outdoor heritage.

Roy and Susan O’Connor have contributed greatly for more than 30 years to the conservation of fish and wildlife in Western Montana through their foundational support of environmental education, watershed group coordination, aquatic habitat improvement protection of large swaths of open space and advocacy aimed at preserving Montana’s uncommon wildland and wildlife heritage.

2023 Conservation Roundtable Awardees
L to R. Karen Sippy, Kathy Hadley, George Bettas, Germaine White, Casey Ryan, Seamus Land, Susan O’Connor, Roy O’Connor.

The Missoula Conservation Roundtable gratefully acknowledges generous contributions to our website design. Our logo was created by Kate Davis, Raptors of the Rockies; Brian Christianson contributed the photographs for page headers Brian Christianson Photography

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