Big Sky Spotlight: Meet Becky Hillier
For the past two years, Becky Hillier has served as a volunteer board member for the Big Sky Honor Flight, the free trip to Washington, D.C., that honors and thanks the veterans for their selfless sacrifices. Hillier has so far made the special trip with hundreds of Montana WWII veterans.
Becky Hillier offers a very firm handshake. It telegraphs her focus and intensity – qualities she’s called upon since she competed in the Miss America pageant at age 17.
On a lark, Becky McRae joined friends trying out for the Miles City pageant. She won and went on to become Miss Montana 1988.
“I loved to sing and perform” as a member of high school choirs and plays, Hillier said. “I won Miss Congeniality, too, so that helped.”
She was the youngest contestant in the Miss America that year.
In 1990, she married Mitch Hillier, a Billings police officer. She and Mitch were living in Rapid City, S.D., and she enrolled at Black Hills State University in nearby Spearfish where a professor told her she was wasting time in school.
“He told me ‘you have talent, ambition and need someone to give you a break,’ ” Hillier said.
The break came in 1996 at the Bucking Horse Sale in Miles City, where she hustled a job from C.W. Wilcox at local KYUS radio station. Wilcox had broadcast her basketball games at Custer County High. At 6 feet tall, Hillier played post.
Two days later, Wilcox hired her. A one-woman news department, her days ran from 3 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“I was exhausted. I wanted to be a real journalist. I had to prove myself. I started at the absolute bottom,” Hillier said.
She produced a 5-minute news blip for noon and evening broadcast. After three months in Miles City, a new NBC TV affiliate in Rapid City – Mitch had remained there – hired her, where she did the morning local insert to the Today Show. In a year, she was doing full news.
Moving to Madison, Wis., in 2002, Hillier was the main anchor and health reporter at WMTV NBC 15 for five years. The family returned to Billings in 2007. Hillier has a son, 21, who is a student at Montana State University-Billings and a daughter, 15, who is at West High School.
“It was burnout and I was looking for something outside journalism,” Hillier said.
In 2008, she joined the staff at Rocky Mountain Hospice. In 2010, she returned to broadcasting at KTVQ for a year. Since 2011, she has been the regional public relations/media relations director at Rocky Mountain Hospice, where she educates people as to the role of hospice care.
“There are so many misconceptions. Knowledge reduces fear. We are there for the terminally ill whether it be for 30 minutes or four to five years. Not just the final days or hours,” Hillier said. “It is a philosophy of care in the home.”
Besides helping raise money, Hillier is a cheerleader for the program.
“I am the captain of the Blue Bus when the flight gets to Washington, D.C. The 37-hour weekend is jammed with events so that the veterans get to see as many of the city’s memorials as possible,” she said. “Most important is the WWII Memorial.”
There have been seven trips from Montana that have taken 602 veterans. All from WWII, except one terminally ill Vietnam veteran.
“We have three buses and one van. I act as a tour guide and take roll call every time we move on. Have not lost anyone yet,” Hillier said. “At the banquet, I MC and sing the national anthem. The Vietnam veteran, who has since died, visited the Vietnam Memorial Wall. He was moved by the children, especially a Boy Scout in uniform who approached him.”
What does it mean to work with the veterans?
It has been a real blessing to get to know them, to make them feel like they are the center of the universe. [I am glad to have] done this really nice thing. Growing up in Miles City there were people who were in WWII who came to our basketball games. This has renewed my appreciation for them. I have an affinity for the military. At the end of my reign (as Miss Montana) I went on a USO-type show in 1989 to military bases in South Korea, Japan, Hawaii, Okinawa, Iwo Jima.
Why donate your time this way?
My boss, (Robert Meyer, regional executive director of Rocky Mountain Hospice) an Air Force officer in the first Gulf War, asked me to check it out. Was it legitimate? He offered my services. He really wanted to help get it off the ground. In January 2012, I joined the board to focus on media relations. To explain to veterans what Big Sky Honor Flight is – for them.
Where in Montana do you go to relax?
We don’t get away a lot. We like to go to Red Lodge for a weekend. Also, there is a cabin on the Stillwater River where there is no phone or cable TV.
What three words describe Montana?
Beautiful. Majestic. Peaceful.
Jim Gransbery is a retired agricultural/political reporter of The Billings Gazette. He writes from Billings.
Lake McDonald Lodge, Granite Park and Sperry chalets reach century mark
By Becky Lomax
A flurry of new destinations threw open their doors in Glacier National Park a century ago. In summer 1914, Lake McDonald Lodge and two backcountry chalets admitted visitors who gaped in awe at the splendor — both inside and outside. This summer, 100 years later, visitors can have much the same experience as in the early days overnighting at these three National Historic Landmarks owned by the U.S. National Park Service.
If you’ve been there, done that. Think again. You might need to tack on a repeat trip to Lake McDonald Lodge, Granite Park Chalet and Sperry Chalet.
Because although the lodges retain the look and feel of the original days with distinctive stonework and log beam-and-post architecture, a few recent changes make the modern experience different.
Stay in a chalet
For reservation information about Glacier National Park’s chalets visit:
Lake McDonald Lodge, www.glaciernationalparklodges.com, 855-733-4522
Granite Park Chalet, www.graniteparkchalet.com, 888-345-2649
Sperry Chalet, www.sperrychalet.com, 888-345-2649
To view the entire story on lodge and chalets, find this issue on newsstands now. To read more about Montana all year, subscribe now.
Glacier’s mountain goats: Alpine icon under observation
By Becky Lomax
Mark Biel, natural resources program manager for Glacier National Park, estimates that up to 100 mountain goats hang around the Logan Pass in the park’s sweeping, scenic and well-traveled zone between Hidden Lake, Haystack Butte and the East Side Tunnel. Delighted visitors frequently encounter the high alpine icons in the parking lot and on the Hidden Lake and Highline trails.
Those encounters are under observation.
That’s in part because the human footprint is growing in Glacier National Park.
Despite a well-used shuttle system designed to reduce vehicles on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the Logan Pass parking lot still fills to capacity in midsummer by 10 a.m., and hikers have increased by 250 percent on some corridor trails. In addition to vehicle congestion and crowding on trails, the human footprint has upped pressure on wildlife, smashed vegetation, trampled trails wider, and spread non-native invasive plants at all shuttle stops.
The National Park Service – charged with balancing the delicate interplay between the visitor experience and protecting park resources – launched a Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor study to gather data to design a management plan. In addition to evaluating how to make the shuttle system financially viable, the plan aims to address congestion on the road and trails with an eye to the future. It’s a journey to answer the question of how to manage higher visitation, respond to future impacts and better protect resources.
To get tabs on the human footprint, the study is collecting data on levels of use and time of use on trails, roads and in parking lots.
But one of the big concerns is the increased pressure on wildlife, specifically with the interaction between humans and mountain goats in the Logan Pass area.
That’s where Biel comes in.
“We’re hoping that the study will give us a better idea of how to manage human interactions with wildlife,” Biel said. “Because mountain goats are so accessible at Logan Pass, it’s the poster child for human and wildlife interaction.”
Biel readily admits that little is known about mountain goats. Biologists don’t even know if the same goats hang out at Logan Pass year to year, or if the Haystack and Hidden Lake Overlook herds interchange with each other.
“We don’t even know when they come down from the cliffs. No research has occurred on mountain goats in the Logan Pass area to determine what impacts, if any, the high number of park visitors and associated trails and road may be having on mountain goats. We hope to learn more about the type and intensity of wildlife-human interactions as well as gain a better understanding of mountain goat movements on the landscape,” he said.
The three-year study, now in year two, is gathering data in several ways, including outfitting 20 mountain goats with radio and GPS collars. The effort unites the collaboration of biologists from the National Park Service, University of Montana and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.
Last summer, the biologists collared six adult goats – one male and five females – that will wear the collars until they are programmed to fall off in 2016. The less expensive collars contain radio transmitters that provide information only when the goats are tracked on foot or by air. Two of the females sport pricey GPS collars, which log their locations every two hours by satellite. As of the end of May, Biel had received more than 3,300 data points per goat.
The GPS collars should reveal mountain goat movement patterns: how and when they use roads and trails.
“We want to develop base line of the use, so we can manage human interactions effectively,” Biel said.
Even though Glacier’s mountain goat population seems healthy to Biel, the collaring process yields a chance to gather further data. At least one collaring occurred adjacent to the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail, offering hikers a rare look at the process. During the 20-30 minutes that the goat is sedated, biologists take blood, hair, mucus and fecal samples to assess health. Biologists hope tests can also reveal the levels of metabolites in goats that might come from licking antifreeze in the parking lots.
Biel hopes to answer one question: why goats hang out right near trails with so much human traffic?
Biologists speculate goats might be attracted to places where the number of humans may provide refuge from predators. This year, they aim to test that theory by dispersing bear and wolf scat in locations to see if the goats steer clear and broadcasting sounds of predators from a speaker to see how the goats react.
Because individual goats are hard to distinguish from one another, biologists may start marking some goats with a paintball pistol to observe repeated behaviors or interactions with visitors that may adversely affect the goats or humans. Before the paint fades away within two weeks, biologists should be able to track the goat’s movements by eyesight from a distance. Since the paintball pistol will also stimulate pain without injury, similar to hazing methods used on bears, biologists can also gather data on this technique as a method to condition goats to stay away from high use trails or other areas.
Wesley Sarmento, a graduate student from the University of Montana, plays a hefty day-to-day role in the mountain goat research. For 60 days last summer, he spent 12 hours per day keeping tabs on mountain goats at Logan Pass. On the Highline Trail, he watched goats block hikers from passing. He observed goats licking salts off handrails and places on the ground where people urinated. He saw a nanny charge when a person stepped between her and her kid. He spotted a feeding goat oblivious to a grizzly bear nearby, supporting the theory that the goats feel protected around humans.
Repeatedly, he noted positive visitor responses to the goats.
“People really enjoy seeing the goats,” he said. “Having close encounters with wildlife is an extraordinary experience, especially with the usually cliff-loving goats. For many people, it’s the highlight of their trip.”
Despite seemingly docile encounters between goats and people, Sarmento adds that visitors still need to maintain distance with the goats because any wild animal can be deadly.
While mountain goat research will aid the park service in understanding human-wildlife interactions, climate warming could pressure wildlife more with additional visitors.
“What if changing climate allows for earlier road openings and later closings, elongating the visitor season? What happens if visitation increases 10-15 percent? What does that translate to hikers on trails, cars on the road, and visitors trying to park?” Mary Riddle, chief of planning and environmental compliance for Glacier Park, poses the questions the park service must answer in the corridor study.
Visitors will help provide the answers. This summer, the park service will administer visitor surveys at multiple locations to assess public reactions to possible future management actions, some submitted by the public last year. Some potential actions may alter how visitors use the park: regulating certain trails with day permits, charging for parking at Logan Pass, not allowing overnight parking at Logan Pass, putting a time limit on parking at Logan Pass and Avalanche, hardening trails like the Avalanche Trail to accommodate higher use levels, making the Highline Trail one way during peak season, eliminating shuttle stops at some trailheads, or requiring a shuttle to access some trails.
“We want to hear from the public as this plan progresses and get their thoughts, ideas, reactions and preferences,” Riddle said. “We need their input so together we can develop a plan that will assure protection of park’s resources and provide continued opportunities for visitors to experience and enjoy this special place.”
Whatever the study finds, it may eventually change the shape of the human footprint, as well as how we interact with Glacier’s alpine icon mountain goats.
Becky Lomax is a longtime Montana Magazine contributor. She writes from Whitefish.
Meet the toughest kid in Montana
Koni Dole is a pretty inspiring (and tough) kid.
Dole, the subject of our Big Sky Spotlight for the May/June issue, lost his leg after a football injury in 2012. But as writer Jim Gransbery tells us, during the first game of the 2013 season, Koni was on the field.
With a pair of very intense brown eyes, Dole is the walking definition of focused. In a private interview after a strenuous workout accompanied by his best friend, Tanner Miller, Dole described his thought processes leading up to his decision that the way forward was to cut back his damaged leg.
“I was stuck in bed for a week,” he said. “Everything was OK. One day my parents (Nancy and Fualelei Andy Dole) came into the room. They were upset. There was a look on their faces.
“Everything that controls the foot was gone. I had a non-functioning foot. It was depressing. I had worked my (butt) off. I had goals. But the choice lit a fire in me. Actions speak louder than words, so I had to accept it. It was my best chance of coming back.”
The work to get back onto the field was painful and intense. Jim told me he’d never come across such a tough and determined kid. And in 2014, Koni will walk on to the Montana State University football team.
His answer to the question “What three words describe Montana?”: Close-knit communities.
Giant Springs State Park: Snowmelt to springs
By BECKY LOMAX
The water defines the phrase “clear as glass.”
Giant Springs bubbles up into a pool so transparent that it mesmerizes all who see it. Underwater foliage catches shafts of sunlight, flashing brilliant green. Ducks paddle the surface, their webbed feet visible as if through glass. As the spring burbles over the pool’s lip into the muddy Missouri River, the two waters remain distinct as they flow east.
Giant Springs is the largest springs in the state. It warms the air in the frost of winter and cools it in the sizzle of summer. The mesmerizing water of the springs is the headlining feature in the 675-acre Giant Springs State Park, which manages property on both sides of the Missouri River in Great Falls.
“The beauty of the springs with the river backdrop and the mountains is just gorgeous,” said Jason Pignanelli, manager of Giant Springs State Park. “In winter, the springs create a mist that coats the trees to make ice sculptures. In summer, the green of the pool and trees is striking.”
To read the rest of feature on Giant Springs State Park, find this issue on newsstands now. To read more about Montana all year, subscribe now.
World renowned wildlife sculptor describes Montana using three words
If you could pick only three words to describe, Montana, what three words would you use?
Hard question to answer?
We put a Montanan on the spot with that question in each issue for our Big Sky Spotlight feature. We created the feature because we figured there are plenty of Montanans you ought to know. So why not put one in the magazine?
Clark Schreibeis, truly a hidden treasure in our state, is a world renonwed wildife carver and sculptor who has won dozens of best in world awards for his work. Clark was featured as the Big Sky Spotlight in the March/April issue. He answered several questions for the story’s writer Jim Gransbery, telling us about how and when he finds creativity to create such amazing art. Check out the full post of the story to learn more about Clark and what three words he uses to describe Montana.
Have you thought of your three words yet?
Check out our January/February Big Sky Spotlight if you need more inspiration.
New Big Sky Spotlight highlights somebody (from MT) you should know
We started debuted a “department” in the first issue of 2014 called Big Sky Spotlight.
We have several departments, or standard story formats, that appear in most issues and we thought, why not add on featuring a Montanan you should know?
The idea is to give readers a quick look at a Montanan making a difference, creating beautiful art or just living the Montana Life.
And, we thought, we not let them answer a few questions for us while we’re at it?
Our inaugural Big Sky Spotlight featured Becky Hillier, a Miles City native who worked tirelessly for the past several years with a dedicated group of people to help hundreds of Montana WWII veterans take the trip of a lifetime to Washington, D.C.
We think it’s a great way to get to know our neighbors and Big Sky Spotlight is one of the few full features we’ll post at MontanaMagazine.com.
And with that, we’re already working on our second issue of 2014, which of course will feature a BSS. Spoiler alert: In March/April we’ll feature Billings area artists Clark Schriebies.
Ted Brewer has written guidebooks to Utah, Prague, and the Czech and Slovak Republics. A novelist, essayist, and a former staff writer at Best Friends magazine, he’s also contributed to Montana Quarterly, Montana Outdoors, Geographical, Exquisite Corpse and other publications. He lives in Helena with his wife and two hound dogs. You can read more of his work at writerbrewer.wordpress.com
Mystery, layers of stories and the sense of the people that came before is – these are what inspire Lisa Wareham’s photography. Wareham creates photographs of people in places that tell their stories. Some call this portraiture, she calls this art. Wareham creates her art from her portrait studio in Uptown Butte, Montana.
Born in Bozeman and raised on a ranch outside of Billings, Jesse Zentz is a Billings West High and University of Montana graduate. He competed in cross country and track and field at the University of Montana, where he earned a B.A. in history and M.A. in print journalism. Jesse has 12 years of experience in professional journalism, including two years as the sports editor at the Helena Independent Record and seven years as a sports writer with the Idaho Statesman in Boise. Jesse, who enjoys running and mountain biking among many other outdoor activities, lives in Helena with his wife, Michele, and daughters, Odessa and Leila.
Matt Holloway lives with his wife, daughter and son in Columbia Falls, and writes when he’s not clawing around in the wilderness. His work has appeared in Montana Magazine, Big Sky Journal, Montana Headwall, Montana Naturalist, A Natural History of Now: Reports from the Edge of Nature(anthology), the inaugural issue of Whitefish Review, and more. Holloway is the fiction editor forWhitefish Review.
Noah Couser is a commercial action and adventure photographer in the Flathead Valley. Both graduates from the University of Montana, Noah and his wife Megan teach school in Kalispell, and spend most of their free time adventuring in the mountains in and around Glacier Park. More of Noah’s work can be viewed on his website, www.noahcouserphotography.com.
Jon Axline is a professional historian, teacher, and freelance writer who lives in Helena. He is employed by the State of Montana and is an adjunct instructor at Helena College – The University of Montana. A long-time contributor to this magazine, he has written on a variety of different subjects about Montana’s colorful history.
Corinne Garcia is a Bozeman-based freelance writer. She has traveled the state of Montana extensively as a field editor for a travel book, and loves to report on Montana life, food, people and culture. She has also written for Marie Claire, Women’s Health, the Christian Science Monitor, USAToday TravelTips, Parents, and Martha StewartLiving among many others. (www.corinnegarcia.com).
Kelly Gorham has photographed everything from food to sports in his career spanning twenty years. His photos have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and USA Today. A native Montanan, Gorham now spends his days as the staff photographer for Montana State University.
Glenn Marx and his wife, Terri, are former publishers of the Whitehall Ledger. They lived in Whitehall from 1997-2011 and currently reside in Helena where Glenn is executive director of the Montana Association of Land Trusts. Glenn is president of Save the Star, a nonprofit 501(c) (3) corporation, Box 536, Whitehall, MT 59759.)
Doug Mitchell currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Montana Department of Commerce, and has been active in public service and community affairs in Montana for four decades. He and his wife Julie live in Helena and have two adult children, Garrett and Andrew.
Jim Gransbery was born in Butte and grew up in Anaconda. He holds a B.A. in history from Montana State University. After a stint in the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman and a five-month walkabout in Spain with his bride, he enrolled in a journalism master’s program at UM. He joined the staff at the Billings Gazette in the fall of 1977. He was state editor for five years, then took up the reporting beats of agriculture and politics (that makes sense in Montana), retiring at the end of 2007. Since mid-2008 he has written magazine articles for local, state and regional publications and worked on short fiction. He lives in Billings with his wife, Karen, who made the whole journalistic journey possible.
Brian D’Ambrosio is a journalist and marketing consultant based in Missoula, Montana. D’Ambrosio has written more than 10 books and, in 2014, will see the release of his biography of boxer “Indian” Marvin Camel, and ‘Warriors on the Ice’, recalling the lives, times, and careers of the greatest of former NHL tough guys.
Jaime and Lisa Johnson
Jaime and Lisa Johnson are a husband and wife nature photographic team. They live fulltime on the edge of the Scapegoat Wilderness near Lincoln. When they aren’t taking photos, they explore the surrounding wilderness or fish on the nearby Blackfoot River. Their work has appeared in many national and regional publications.
Originally from Chicago, IL, Chris was introduced to climbing at the age of 17. Challenged for places to climb, he set his sights West and moved to Missoula, MT where he currently lives. A landscape full of mountains fed his insatiable appetite for exploration. Climbing, biking, skiing, hang gliding, and hiking helped develop experience necessary to accumulate many first ascents. Whether climbing walls, sport, bouldering, ice, or alpine, he is always in search of a new challenge and new experience. As a climbing ambassador for Wild Things Gear, he has traveled all over North America, Asia, Europe, and Africa looking for the next adventure. When not focusing on climbing, Chris makes his living as a Respiratory Therapist.
Ednor Therriault is a writer, musician and graphic designer with deep Montana roots. He has written several books including Montana Curiosities and is currently finishing up his first novel, Stealing Motown, a comic crime romp laced with rock and roll history. He lives with his wife and two children in Missoula.
Marilyn Jones has been a journalist and photographer for more than 30 years. Specializing in travel and features, her articles and photographs have appeared in major newspapers, magazines and online. She is the mother of three grown children and lives in East Texas, where she enjoys gardening and scrapbooking. Learn more at www.travelwithmarilyn.com.
Jeremy Lurgio is a freelance photographer and an associate professor of photojournalism at the University of Montana School of Journalism. His photography is driven by a passion for documenting people and places. When not on assignment or in the classroom, he enjoys exploring the wilds of Montana with his family.
Gordon and Cathie Sullivan
Gordon and Cathie Sullivan live in the shadow of the beautiful Cabinet Mountains in Libby. Together they have published eight books and a host of calendars and magazine articles. Their newest book, Photographing Washington, will be released in 2014.
Jessica Lowry is a Montana-based editorial and commercial photographer and journalist. Her work frequently appears in national publications including The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine and Sunset Magazine. A Georgia native, she now calls Missoula home, and loves barbecue, back roads and her husband. Not in that order.
Kelvin Pinney was born in Salt Lake City and raised in countries around the world. He is a self-taught photographer with a studio in Billings and has photographed nearly everything under the sun.
Richard Peterson is a freelance journalist who has also worked as a reporter at KULR-TV in Billings, the Great Falls Tribune, USA Today, the Fort Peck Journal and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian magazine and Aboriginal Voices magazine. He resides in his hometown of Poplar.
Born and raised in central Montana, Jackie Jensen is an award-winning photographer who splits her time between the family ranch and her photography studio in Lewistown.
Cathy Moser is a freelance writer who writes about western history, the outdoors and Montana lifestyles from her home in central Montana’s Judith Mountains.
Photojournalist Lynn Donaldson crisscrosses the U.S. on assignment for magazines such as National Geographic Traveler, Food & Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and The New York Times. Donaldson also photographed cookbooks, Open Range and Gatherings. She lives in Livingston with her husband and three small children.
Based in Helena, Jason Savage works as a freelance and commercial photographer
specializing in travel and outdoor photography. His work has been featured in Time, National Geographic Traveler, Outside, Audubon, Outdoor Photographer and many others. Savage also works as one of the leading photography instructors in the country, teaching workshops and classes throughout North America.
Erik Petersen has been a Montana-based photojournalist for 14 years. He lives in the Shields Valley with his wife and two boys. His work can be seen at erikpetersen.photoshelter.com or erikpetersenphoto.tumblr.com.
Becky Lomax writes from her house in the woods in Whitefish, her base camp for hiking, biking, skiing and kayaking. She has authored two Moon guidebooks, one on Glacier National Park and the other on Camping in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. She frequently contributes to Montana Magazine as well as other regional and national magazines.
Erin Madison grew up in Golden, Colo., and moved to Montana to attend the University of Montana. From there, she found her way to the Great Falls Tribune, where she works as an outdoors writer. She enjoys spending as much free time outside as possible, mountain biking, backpacking, cross-country skiing and snowboarding with her boyfriend Josh and their dog Maggie.
Kristen Inbody was born and raised in Choteau, where her family farms. Since graduating from the University of Montana, she has worked for newspapers in Alaska, Wyoming, Washington, D.C. and Montana, where she is a feature writer for the Great Falls. Inbody was a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Transylvania and Romania. She continues to explore the world.
Darrin Schreder is a commercial, marketing and advertising photographer based in Great Falls. A graduate of Montana State University, his career has spanned more than 28 years with work appearing in national and regional publications, advertising campaigns and corporate annual reports, both in Montana and abroad. His work can be seen at www.schrederphotography.com.
Carol Bradley spent many years as a newspaper reporter. Her second book, Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top, is due out in July. She lives in Great Falls.
Brett Berntsen grew up in Northwest Washington and originally moved to Montana as a trail worker. He stuck around for college and recently graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Journalism.
Although a native Washingtonian, Aaron Theisen was baptized in Lincoln, and his baptism in the outdoors occurred during childhood summers in the Blackfoot River Valley and Rocky Mountain Front. Aaron lives in Spokane, Wash., and spends much of his time in the mountains of Western Montana. He is currently working on a book, Day Hiking Mount St. Helens, to be published by The Mountaineers Books.
Thomas Lee has been photographing the character and characters of Montana and the Rocky Mountain West for more than 20 years. His latest book with Alan Kesselheim, Montana: Real Place, Real People, won the 2013 High Plains Book award for best art and photography book. More of Lee’s work can be seen at ThomasLeePhoto.com.
Jack Ballard is an award-winning author and photographer from Red Lodge. His byline has appeared in more than 50 magazines. He is the author of nine books, seven in a series of Falcon Guide titles on the natural history of major North American mammals. See more of his work at JackBallard.com.
Until a few years ago, Sean Heavey had only driven through small rural towns on his way to someplace else. But a series of cosmic events unfolded and he landed in the heart of small town America. He fell in love. Heavey’s photographs have been published around the globe and seen by millions of people. He has been honored to have his images on the pages of the NY Post, Boston Globe, Entrainment Weekly, Popular Science, USA Today, The Telegraph, France’s La Monde and National Geographic.
When Heavey does not have a camera in hand, which is not very often, he works as an electrician in Glasgow.
Todd Klassy is a professional photographer located in Havre. He specializes in photographing rural life in the Treasure State. Klassy was recently honored as a “Treasured Montana Artist” by the Montana Secretary of State’s office. To see more of his Montana photographs, visit.toddklassy.com.
Chris La Tray
Chris La Tray is a writer, photographer and wannabe adventurer. His fiction writing has been widely published in various journals and collections. He lives just outside of Missoula with his wife and a crew of terrible pets.
The editor-in-chief of Outdoor Life magazine, Andrew McKean lives just outside Glasgow with his family. His writing has appeared in a number of regional and national publications, and his latest book, Hunt Everything, is due out this winter. When he’s not editing, he roams the prairies and breaks of eastern Montana with his children and friends.
Leland Howard’s fine art nature photography has earned him credits that number in the thousands and include the National Geographic Society, Hallmark, Warner Bros. MGM and many other top names. His photographic art is meaningful in the way it captures the emotions experienced when observing the natural world. This resonance has been his goal as he refined his work during the past 30 years working as a freelance photographic artist.