Loren Blanksma – Chairman
As a fourth generation Montana farmer/rancher, the value of agricultural land conservation has been important to Loren since a young age. His paternal great-grandfather homesteaded out of Choteau, MT with his grandfather, eventually moving to the Gallatin Valley and purchasing the farm where he was raised and still operate today. His maternal grandfather purchased a farm in Grangeville, ID which still operates today by his maternal relatives. His families provided him with a deep history entrenched in agriculture from both parents. In the mid-1990’s, while still working full time on the farm, Loren attended Montana State University studying Mechanical Engineering, attaining a lower junior level of education, before deciding his true passion was agriculture. Loren raises wheat, barley, alfalfa, peas, and commercial black angus on his farm. He previously served on the Gallatin County Planning Board as a representative of the Gallatin Conservation District for seven years made him realize the complexities between urban development and agricultural operations. Since his time on the Gallatin County Planning Board, ending in 2018, he has been honored to serve as a Supervisor of the Gallatin Conservation District.
Sherwin Leep – Vice-Chairman
Sherwin has served as a Supervisor on the Gallatin CD since 1985. As a native Montanan, he greatly appreciates the opportunity to encourage stewardship of this beautiful area we all treasure. He has spent his career directly involved with an agriculture business near Four Corners with his brother raising alfalfa, mixed forages, and small grains. Growing up here, and now seeing so much change and growth occurring in our valley, it reminds all of us how important it is to think long-term and to responsibly care for our resources.
Mike completed his Soil Science BA degree with a minor in Plant Physiology from 1972-1976 from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. He began work in Montana as a Field Soil Scientist from the mid 1970’s to 1984, soil surveying for first the State of MT and then the USDA-Soil Conservation Service in Scobey and Roundup, MT. In 1984 he took the NRCS Soil Survey Project Leader position in Plains, MT for the Sanders County Area through May 1990. In 1990 he joined the Montana USDA NRCS State Office Staff as the Soil Database Manager, serving in a variety of positions and roles through to retirement as the Assistant State Soil Scientist in October 2010.
Bob has been married since 1981 and has two kids and two grandkids. He was born and raised in Illinois. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point in 1981, majoring in Forestry with a minor in Soil Science. Bob worked for the USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service for 33 years, both as a Soil Scientist for 13 years and a Forester for 20 years. He is currently retired in Manhattan, MT and enjoys spending time in the outdoors.
Jason is a lifelong resident of the Gallatin Valley and a fourth generation farmer. Jason currently operates the same farm his grandfather started in 1940 raising small grains and cattle north of Belgrade. In the year 2000, Jason made the transition to no-till farming to protect water quality and to conserve soil moisture. Jason and his wife, Jodi, were awarded the “Outstanding Conservationist” by the Gallatin Conservation District. Jason served on the Gallatin Beef Producers board for several years and also served as a director for the Montana Stockgrower’s Association. In 2005, Jason and Jodi were awarded the “Outstanding Junior Farmer/Rancher” of the year. He is passionate about conserving the agricultural heritage in the Gallatin County.
Tammy was recently elected to the Gallatin Conservation District Board of Supervisors in 2020. She received her B.S. in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Natural Resources & Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Tammy has a long history of working in water conservation in the Gallatin Valley. She worked for the Gallatin Local Water Quality District for 19 years conducting water monitoring and education on local water resource issues. She serves as the citizen representative on the Montana Wetland Protection Advisory Committee for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. She also previously served as President for the Montana Section – American Water Resources Association and was a founding member of the Gallatin Watershed Council. Tammy lives north of Bozeman with her husband.
Briana was recently elected to the Gallatin Conservation District board of supervisors in 2020. She has over 15 years of experience working in the natural resources field. She has two degrees from Montana State University-Bozeman College of Agriculture and has been an environmental consultant in the Gallatin Valley for over 10 years. Working with water and wetlands is the heart of what she does. Briana lives in Bozeman with her husband, kids and two dogs.
Associate Supervisor – John Schutter
John Schutter was born and raised in the Gallatin Valley. He graduated from the College of Agriculture at MSU. His wife, Karen, and himself are blessed with 4 children and 10 grandchildren. He has been farming his whole life- growing potatoes, cereal grains, peas, alfalfa, canola, and garbanzo beans. He really enjoys the farming profession and the many challenges it can bring. He finds it exciting to see the new technology and advancements in agriculture. John Schutter was previously a supervisor on the Gallatin Conservation District board for 15 years and currently serves as an Associate Supervisor to help advise the board on decisions.
Becky Clements – District Administrator
Becky is a Montana native and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Montana State University- Bozeman. Before coming to the Gallatin Conservation District, Becky worked as Executive Director for the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. Becky’s areas of expertise include administration, strategic planning, event coordinating, and office management. Becky is active in the community, and volunteers her time frequently. Becky enjoys spending time with her family and is often found at sporting events for her 2 sons. Becky also enjoys hiking, camping, and cycling.
Elizabeth Emeline – Natural Resource Specialist
Elizabeth is excited to join the Gallatin Conservation District! She is from Montana and has Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Science focused in Fish and Wildlife Management Ecology from Montana State University-Bozeman. After college, Elizabeth returned to eastern Montana to work as a Northern Plains Conservation Specialist for American Bird Conservancy in her home community. Her background is in agriculture, natural resources and the ecology of Montana. Elizabeth enjoys hiking, camping, and floating the river with her dog whenever she gets the chance.
Sydney Lyons – Education and Outreach Director
Sydney is passionate about protecting the Earth’s natural resources and teaching others to do the same. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science and Pollution Control from Colorado Mesa University. Sydney’s background is in conservation education and community outreach. She has extensive experience working in the field, in laboratories, and under various land management agencies. She has a deep love of the outdoors and spends much of her free time exploring the valley. When Sydney isn’t working with the community or planning in the office, you can find her skiing at Bridger Bowl, biking around the Highlands, or walking dogs at Heart of the Valley.
Leia Miller – Education Specialist
Leia and her husband Brent have lived in an old farmhouse just west of Manhattan for 19 years. They have 3 grown kids that grew up participating in just about every animal project 4-H offered! Leia has a passion for agricultural education and still loves to have kids out to their farm to see the spring lambs. Leia started out volunteering at the Gallatin Conservation District with some of the special needs kids she works with. She was officially hired as the Education Specialist in 2017 and loves planning activities, connecting with the community, taking care of the gardens in the Education and Outreach Center, and working with our awesome staff and supervisors. She is so grateful to be a part of the GCD!
Gillian Rowe – Big Sky Watershed Corps Member
Gillian served as a Montana Conservation Corps Fellow for Gallatin CD in 2021. She returned in January to serve an 11-month term shared between Gallatin CD and the Association of Gallatin Agricultural Irrigators. We’re excited to have her back as a Big Sky Watershed Corps Member.