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Photo by Patrick Colleran
Oct 04 2016

For the Wild

MWA awards those who have gone above and beyond to help achieve our mission

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Each year at Wild Fest, MWA honors several people for the work they’ve done championing wilderness, promoting quiet trails, and advocating for responsible management of public lands. We presented the 2016 Brass Lantern Awards to seven people this year. We also presented the Keep It Wild award and the Founders Award to two others who went above and beyond on behalf of our wildlands.

The Founder’s Award

Dan Bennett, Great Falls

This award is presented to the individual who best exemplifies outstanding and enduring dedication to the cause of wilderness and the mission of Montana Wilderness Association. This year's award went to Dan Bennett.

Dan has been involved with MWA for more than 25 years and has made invaluable contributions to both our organization and to our cause of protecting wild places. He’s led hundreds of Wilderness Walk outings, played an instrumental role in the Island Range Chapter for the last 23 years, and has tirelessly for the Island Ranges as well as the Rocky Mountain Front.

He is the current chair of our State Council’s litigation committee and has led many campaigns to legally preserve and protect our land.

In addition to his work with us, Dan has devoted years  to Montana Audubon, Montana Native Plant Society, the Great Falls Conservation Coalition, and other organizations.

Above all, Dan is a constant volunteer, a patient leader, and a perseverant lover of Montana’s wild places.

The Keep It Wild Award

Becca Boslough, Missoula

The Keep It Wild Award recognizes a young person who has shown dedication to MWA’s mission. This year, the award went to Becca Boslough, a long-time volunteer for MWA and current member of the Shining Mountains Chapter.

Becca first started serving with MWA as a freshman at the University of Montana, through the UM Wilderness Association. She spent her time tabling, knocking on doors, petitioning the government on wilderness issues, and more. Becca is currently on the steering committee of the Great Burn Wilderness Campaign.

The Brass Lantern Awards

Chuck Jennings, Great Falls

Chuck is widely-know in MWA as a devoted volunteer and organizer of many MWA events and campaigns. He has led numerous Wilderness Walks, hosted house parties, attended dozens of meetings and rallies, and was a huge force in raising funds for Wild Fest 2016. Chuck has proven a willing, but often understated volunteer in the organization over the years and never calls for recognition or praise. He merely works hard and loves the wild.

Doug and Sonia Powell, Helena

Doug and Sonia are years-long devotees to the wild, specifically promoting awareness and protection for their local playground, Black Mountain. They have led Wilderness Walks each season for years. They both carry a perfect combination of dedication and positive attitude. In addition, they are a wealth of knowledge and passion, determined to work and petition until the Black Mountain area is protected.

Barbara Geller, Bozeman

Barbara is an energetic mover and shaker in MWA’s Madison-Gallatin Chapter. She currently serves as vice president of her chapter, but her involvement ranges from working as an instrumental contributor to our online hiking guide, hikewildmontana.org, to establishing working relationships with important stakeholder groups. Few have the energy and knack for networking and attention to detail that make her such a pivotal member of our organization.

Kelly Hurston, Butte

The creation of MWA’s new Butte-Beaverhead Chapter is largely due to the time and devotion Kelly has put into it as its first president. She is a leader that is helping drive our efforts to reach more communities in the southwest part of our state. With her help we will soon have a thriving, well-respected team in the wild parts of southwest Montana. Kelly has also worked for years as a volunteer for our program building and maintaining the Montana section of the Continental Divide Trail.

Rita Harding, Billings

Rita is a hard-working, dedicated servant of MWA’s Eastern Wildlands Chapter. She has spent nearly a decade leading and participating in statewide Wilderness Walks and taken on the roles of board secretary and chapter representative. More than that, Rita is a networker and voice of peace in a sometimes-contentious part of the state. She is knowledgeable about many issues regarding local environmental concerns, as well as the history of Native American culture and issues. It is rare to find a volunteer as engaged as Rita and it’s a privilege to have her with MWA.

Sandy Compton, Heron

Sandy is a long-time supporter and member of MWA and of our sister organizations, Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. He is deeply rooted to the land that he and his family have lived in since the early 1900s and fiercely dedicated to protecting and stewarding wildlands in the Scotchman Peaks area. Sandy has spent a good deal of time working on mining issues in the area, and his love of nature and knack for storytelling has made him a wonderful, much-adored addition to the Flathead-Kootenai Chapter.

Kirk Thompson, Hamilton

As MWA’s representative on the Bitterroot Quiet Use Coalition, Kirk has spent a decade of effort protecting wilderness from motorized use. His work has recently paid off in the Sapphires, Bitterroots, and Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. In addition, Kirk has served on MWA’s State council and long worked with our organization to advocate for our wild lands.

- Lee Boman, MWA president