GREAT FALLS — Nominations for the 2020 class of the Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame are being accepted now through February 29th.
The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to honor people who made significant and lasting contributions to conservation and restoration of Montana’s wildlife and the many unique outdoor locations that Montana has to offer.
“We have a big state, and a lot of times people just think of Montana as mountains, but we have about two-thirds of the state that’s East of the mountains with beautiful land sculptures and rivers and the Missouri River, which flows through Great Falls,” said 2014 inductee Gary Jennings. “It’s so important to keep these places preserved, and so that’s what Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame is looking for.”
New inductees into the Hall are announced every two years after a nomination period like this one. Nominees do not have to be living in or even be a resident of Montana. The only requirement, aside from having made some significant contribution to Montana’s outdoors, is that they spent some amount of time in Montana.
After the nomination period ends, a board of directors will make the final selections based on recommendations provided by a review committee. The committee is made up of a cross-section of Montana’s conservation and outdoor communities.
The inductees for this year’s class will be honored at a banquet in Helena on December 5th.
Jennings stressed that it’s not hard to get involved in the outdoors when you live in Montana.
“Because we have mountains and rivers and wonderful places to hike,” she said. “Really and truly, when people say ‘oh, you’ve gotta go over to the Rocky Mountain Front,’ now don’t get me wrong, I love the Rocky Mountain Front, and I worked my heart out to get the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act passed, but what do we have around here? We have rivers, we have hills, we have valleys. The island ranges which are the mountains that are East of us and Southeast of us, offer tremendous opportunities, and then you get further out and people think ‘oh it’s just wasteland out there,’ not so.”
Jennings, who moved to Great Falls in 1974, has spent her entire life embracing the outdoors, and not just in Montana. Prior to coming to the Treasure State, she spent time in New York and Vermont, as well as overseas in Germany. She says that her experiences with the wilderness in those places allow her to appreciate what Montana has to offer even more.
“In Germany, we used to ride bikes a lot, and we’d ride through the forests, and the forests had no trees down, there were no limbs, there was no detritus, there was nothing,” Jennings recalled. “I thought that was really pretty, and then I realized that all that is so important for the health of the forest. So, when we came to Montana, I thought ‘hmm, things are not cleaned up very well,’ and then I realized why things are not cleaned up well. Vermont is an absolutely lovely state, and I loved living in Vermont. It’s small, so you can kind of get your arms around it. Montana is a lot bigger than Vermont, and a lot more work to do.”
Jennings is almost over-involved in the Great Falls and Montana Outdoors communities, if there was such a thing as over-involved.
She works with the Montana Wilderness Association and many other organizations and committees, all while never forgetting to find time for biking, hiking, skiing, tennis, and even canoeing down the Missouri River.
If you would like to nominate for the Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame, click here to visit the website.