The Clark Fork Coalition board of directors is pleased to nominate two outstanding candidates, Jenni Chaffin and Katelyn Hepburn, for election to the board by our members. Two current board members, Elaine Caton and Tom Parker, are up for re-election.
The skills, qualities, and perspectives of the nominees listed below closely match the board’s selection criteria at this time. If you are a current CFC member* you are invited to vote in this board election.
Please review the candidates’ biographies and statements below and submit your vote by 5:00 pm MST, Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021.
You do not have to vote for each candidate. Votes will be tallied by Coalition board and staff and a final decision will be made at the Coalition’s annual business meeting on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. This meeting is open to all Coalition members and will be held from 4:00-4:30 pm via Zoom (please register HERE). Feel free to join us to share your thoughts, ideas, and questions!
*Membership status will be reviewed upon vote submission. If you have been an active member in the period from January 1, 2019 to present, you are eligible to vote in this board election.
Board members will be installed at the CFC’s Annual Business Meeting:
Via Zoom – must register in advance HERE.
Note: Coalition members may submit names of possible future board candidates to the CFC at any time.
Elaine Caton is the Education Coordinator and Trumpeter Swan Program Coordinator for the Blackfoot Challenge. Elaine moved from her family’s ranch in Missouri to attend the University of Montana after high school, and could never bring herself to leave Montana. She spent ten years as a biologist in Glacier National Park while also studying birds in the Everglades and Central America. Later, Elaine earned a postdoc in science education, which allowed her to combine her interests in conservation and science with her love of teaching people about the natural world. She enjoys nothing more than seeing people of all ages discover new things about the world around them. Elaine lives in the beautiful Blackfoot valley near Ovando, with her husband and two daughters, where they ski, hike, ride horses, float the rivers, and explore western Montana.
“As an ecologist, I am often thinking about the interconnectedness of the world, and how everything influences everything else: how what happens at the top of a mountain can affect a river below, or how the presence or absence of one species can have far-reaching consequences on an ecosystem. And as an educator, I also think about interconnectedness: how what children learn about where they live can have lasting effects on the future of that place as well as on their own lives. I have tried to bring to the board my scientific insight, my perspective as an educator, and my experience of living in a rural part of the watershed. I have a great deal of respect for the Clark Fork Coalition, and am honored to assist in furthering its mission.”
Jenni Chaffin lives in Missoula and is a buyer for NRS. She grew up along the banks of the Snake River in Southern Idaho and developed a love for rivers, mountains, and wildlife at an early age. After graduating from University of Idaho, Jenni started working at NRS and has been with the company for 16 years. When not managing inventory of rafts and PFDs at NRS, Jenni can be found behind the lens of her camera documenting everything from bird life on the Clark Fork, to multi-day river trips on western rivers. Jenni is also a founding and current board member of The Redside Foundation, an Idaho nonprofit supporting the health and strength of the outdoor guiding community. Redside provides seasonal guides with access to confidential mental healthcare, educational scholarships, professional training grants and community building programs. Jenni and her husband Brian chase the seasons in western MT through a mix of birdwatching, rafting, hiking, and camping, occasionally accompanied by their Alaskan malamutes and adventurous cats.
“Since moving to Missoula, the Clark Fork river has been a centerpiece in my life, from floating, fishing, photographing or just walking along the banks. The Clark Fork Coalition was one of the first local non-profits I heard about, and I was immediately drawn to their mission and projects. Their list of accomplishments—from river restoration to coalition building—is impressive, and I am honored to be asked to serve on the board. I look forward to providing support and perspective toward protecting and restoring the Clark Fork and the different habitats it provides. A healthy river provides the basis for a strong community. The integrity of the Clark Fork River is essential to the health and success of western Montana.”
Katelyn Hepburn is an attorney at Garlington, Lohn & Robinson, PLLP in Missoula. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest where she developed a love for recreating in the mountains, along the coast, and on the rivers in between. She studied wildlife biology, environmental science, and sustainability in Montana, Oregon, and Ireland. While obtaining her undergraduate degree, she spent her springs and summers exploring and guiding river trips in Montana, Idaho, Southern Oregon, and Northern California. She graduated from University of Montana School of Law with a certificate in Environmental Law and now practices in a variety of legal areas with an emphasis in water and natural resources. Katelyn also serves on the Board of Directors of the Wild Rockies Field Institute, an experiential outdoor education institute based in Missoula. She is on the advisory board of the Freeflow Institute, a place-based outdoor education collaborative offering seminars, workshops, and adventures for writers, law students, legal professionals, journalists, and more. When not at the office, she can be found floating rivers, running trails, or skiing slopes with her husband Jim, their daughter Marion, and their two dogs, Sawyer and Bonnie.
“Rivers have been a central part of my life for many years, and since moving to Missoula, the Clark Fork has been an important focal point. It is the river I first learned to guide on and where I learned to kayak. I have spent countless hours floating on waters, swimming in pools, running and recreating along banks throughout the Clark Fork Basin. The river system is a fundamental component of the health and vitality of our community and the Clark Fork Coalition has been pivotal in protecting, maintaining, and improving the ecosystem. I am honored to be considered to serve on the board of this impressive and important organization.”
Tom Parker is President of Geum Environmental Consulting, Inc. in Hamilton, Montana. He came to Missoula after high school in Connecticut, never having been to Montana but convinced it was the right place for him. Tom graduated from The University of Montana with a degree in Forestry, and returned after a few years of running a wilderness stewardship program in New York’s Adirondacks to complete a Master of Science degree. Tom’s interests have paralleled those of CFC and its staff, including collaborating on the Bitterroot Subbasin Plan, and working as part of restoration design teams for Milltown Dam removal and Upper Clark Fork cleanup.
“I am fortunate to be able to make a living restoring rivers throughout Montana and Idaho. As a consultant, one can have a positive impact on outcomes of specific projects with defined scopes. However, it is less possible to influence broader policies and pursue needed conservation actions without funding mechanisms in place, or where political will may be lacking. I continue to serve on the board of the Clark Fork Coalition because I know they are one of the most effective conservation groups in Montana, my own objectives for conservation and restoration are closely aligned with CFC’s, and I am honored to be able contribute my skills and familiarity with current Clark Fork River issues and needs.”