Melanie Judge Parker

All things are connected: the land, the animals, the people.

Melanie Judge Parker, co-founder of Northwest Connections and its Executive Director for over 18 years, referenced the fabled words of Chief Seattle often and for good reason: they perfectly express her life’s work as a place-based conservationist, educator, and collaborator. Melanie integrated science, community, and education to conserve rural landscapes and knew that the best way to learn about the natural world was to go outside. In 2001 Northwest Connections offered its first two-month Landscape & Livelihood program, immersing students in the splendor of the Swan to show them firsthand how everything is connected. Melanie also knew that the best way to learn about each other was to “go outside together.” The Swan Valley would not be what it is today without her bold vision to bring people with differing views together in the places they love so their common goals could be revealed. Her collaborative, generous spirit has influenced countless students, colleagues, and neighbors. Melanie’s work at Northwest Connections and as facilitator of the Swan Lands Coordinating Committee played an integral role in realizing the Montana Legacy Project in 2007; a conservation effort that conveyed 310,000 acres across western Montana from corporate timber ownership to public hands, including 67,000 acres in the Swan. For Melanie, conservation is about connection - a legacy we are proud to continue. 


Honor Melanie’s significant contributions to conservation in the Swan Valley and beyond by joining our 20th anniversary fundraising challenge. Visit for details.