By Michael Howell
Five awards were presented to conservationists last Tuesday, October 17 at the annual Conservation Roundtable banquet held this year up the Rattlesnake in Smoke and Thelma Elser’s barn.
The Conservation Roundtable was initiated by Missoulian, Don Aldrich when he created the Don Aldrich Fish Wildlife and Conservation Award in 1986 to recognize conservationists. The award program evolved to become the Conservation Roundtable with the addition of the Bolle Award in 1995, named for the late Dr. Arnold Bolle, and the first Burk/Brandborg Award in 1998. A Lifetime Conservation Award was added in 2001 with a presentation to Helen Bolle and this year the group added an award focusing on young conservation activists titled the Emerging Conservationist Award.
Every year, previous award winners gather to nominate a new set of award winners. In so doing, the Roundtable honors the accomplishments in each category of someone who is active in the community to demonstrate how community members care for one another as well as the place.
“The Conservation Roundtable awards evening is an opportunity for all members to “Remember, Honor, and Celebrate” our mutual commitments to environmental stewardship,” said Founding member Dale Burk..
Awardees are chosen from the greater Missoula area and of the five awards given out for 2017, two were given to Bitterrooters, Kate Davis and Jack Ader.
Kate Davis, received the Lifetime Award, which is not given out every year. It is given for distinguished well recognized accomplishment over a long period of time in an area of natural resources and environmental protection with some significant connections to the greater Missoula area. She was honored “for almost three decades of passionate and energetic work focused on conservation and education about raptors.
Davis’ love of animals began early in her life and by junior high school in 1973, she was caring for mammals and raptors with the Cincinnati Zoo Junior Zoologists Club. She provided educational programs at the zoo and in the community, as well as illustrating their publications and doing taxidermy work. After locating to Missoula in 1978, she received a degree in Zoology from the University of Montana in 1982. She moved to a ranch outside of Missoula and obtained the required federal and state rehabilitation, possession, eagle exhibition and falconry permits. She founded Raptors of the Rockies in 1988, educating schools and the public about raptors and resource conservation. Since then, Davis and birds have appeared in 1650 programs for 131,000 audience members plus -young and old alike. Her TEDx Talk from 2015 entitled “Communication In the Dark” starring Jillian the Great Horned Owl can be viewed online.
Wilderness Ranger for the Bitterroot National Forest Jonathan “Jack” Ader was presented with the Burk-Brandborg Award, another award that is not always given out. He is a native of southern Idaho where as a member of a large family he grew up in an area surrounded by potato fields. He later served his country as a U.S. Marine and then graduated Magma Cum Laude from the University of Idaho with a Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in Natural Resource Conservation Planning and Management, with a minor in Parks, Protected Areas & Wilderness Conservation.
Ader came to the Bitterroot National Forest, West Fork Ranger District, in 2016, where he became a leader in educational outreach to youth in the Bitterroot Valley through his participation on the Wilderness Skills Trail and the Youth Conservation and Education Expo. He is noted for having an easy-going way about him, thus being able to sense his audience and respond accordingly. Those he has taught leave with something to remember.
Recently, he initiated efforts to standardize wilderness monitoring protocol across the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness by working with his field-level peers to propose a monitoring strategy for the five National Forests that manage the FCRONR.
Ader received the award for working out of the West Fork Ranger District, where he has demonstrated outstanding skills in terms of working with people of all ages in regard to their interaction with wilderness – but particularly notable in the success he’s achieved in encouraging young people to learn and appreciate the concept of wild land utilization, wilderness management and its concept as a national heritage.
“Of particular interest in regard to his nomination,” said Burk, “we wish to call attention to his hands-on efforts in regard to the Montana Youth Conservation Expo and its summer camp sessions, which are held at the Magruder Ranger Station on the Bitterroot Forest where Mr. Ader has been a leader in conservation outreach. He has worked enthusiastically with a number of other individuals associated with the program to help make the Expo summer field camps at the Magruder Ranger Station a success. Some twenty-one boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18 participate in the week-long summer camp. In the process, they are introduced to concepts and practices of wilderness management under the requirements of the Wilderness Act of 1963. This includes actual wilderness trail maintenance work with the hands-on involvement of Mr. Ader and two volunteer outfitters – a process that creates a lasting sensitivity to the rigors of what it takes to achieve work under wilderness conditions. In addition, Mr. Ader has assisted Youth Expo leadership in their efforts to educate these young people in regard to wild land and other natural resource management issues.”
Other awardees included Jim Stone who was presented the Don Aldrich Award in recognition of his outstanding achievements in promoting cooperative conservation locally in the Blackfoot Valley, throughout Montana, the Intermountain West and nationally.
The Arnold Bolle Award which is given to a professional in the field of conservation went to Diana Six for her outstanding teaching, research, professional engagement, and mentoring as a UM Professor of Forest Entomology/Pathology.
The Emerging Conservationist Award, a new award added this year, went to Travis Ross, in recognition of his emerging leadership as an Environmental Health Specialist for the Missoula Valley Water Quality District creating productive long term partnerships for protecting environmental quality in the community.