Tom Parker, co-founder of Northwest Connections, knows the Swan better than most. He’s spent 40 years tracking, guiding, and researching this rich landscape, learning from the land and from the locals. His connection with the land is forged from countless miles spent traversing the vast wilderness that frames the Swan Valley, where he might be found studying animal tracks in the snow on a high ridge, observing grizzly bears digging up truffles in a timbered bottomland, or packing students into the backcountry to study the loss of whitebark pine. His connection with the locals comes from nights sitting around a woodstove listening to the descendants of homesteaders tell stories that enrich the knowledge he gathered from the land. One of Northwest Connections’ most innovative practices was using locals – loggers, trappers, and old-timers – as field technicians to gather data for use by government land managers, because he recognized that no one knows the land better than the locals. Building relationships for the benefit of the land remains central to our mission and work today. Just as Tom has learned from his elders, so have hundreds of future conservationists, wildlife biologists, and natural resource managers learned from him - the Swan’s consummate guide and outdoor educator.
Honor Tom and his role in building the foundation for our work by joining our 20th-anniversary fundraising challenge. Visit SwanValleyConnections.org/20th-anniversary-celebration for details.