Glacier Conversations



Tickets are no longer available for Glacier Conversations 2019. We look forward to seeing you next year. 

Friday, October 18, 2019 – 5:30pm

Grouse Mountain Lodge, Whitefish

Join us for an intimate evening of dinner and conversation in celebration of Glacier National Park and the 20th Anniversary of the Glacier Fund.

Glacier Conversations is a unique collaboration of Glacier experts, artists, entrepreneurs, and visionaries exploring ways to preserve, protect, and celebrate our beloved Glacier National Park. Choose from up to 20 unique topics, and join other Glacier enthusiasts to have meaningful conversations with the guidance of a knowledgeable table host.


5:30pm Check-in and Cocktails

6:00pm Dinner and Conversation


Contact Emily at 406-892-3250 or


1. John Ashley

Capturing the Dark Sky

In 1982, naturalist John Ashley was ranked by the National Press Photographers’ Association as one of the top newspaper photographers in the United States. Since then, he has used his passion to promote conservation efforts in National Parks across the country. His images capture the natural beauty and humor that is inherent in wild places and wild critters, his favorite of which are harlequin ducks. In 2015, he photographed and wrote his first book, Glacier National Park After Dark, detailing the history, astronomy and beauty of our beloved park. 

2. Ken Yarus

The Immensity of this Place

Raised in Kalispell, Ken Yarushas always been inspired by the landscape around him, but it wasn’t until he travelled to New York City to pursue his art education that he truly realized his longing for the wilderness he grew up in. Upon completing his education, Ken gratefully returned to the mountains of Montana. It is here that he paints plein air and large landscapes, aiming to capture the immensity and value of the mountains. Every day, he continues to work on balancing realistic representations with deeper emotional values in his work, hoping to capture the beauty of his home.

3. Tom Figarelle

Western Artistry

Located in Great Falls, the C.M. Russell Museum is a major repository of art, artifacts and archival materials associated with significant Western artists. In 2016, an exhibition titled Going to the Sun: Artists in Glacier National Park sparked particular interest for the public, as it focused on the unique landscape, wildlife and people of the park. Executive Director Tom Figarelle has been working on curating this kind of strong connection between art and native Montanans at the museum since he started working there two years ago. He believes that the museum’s success contributes to the community’s success and will continue to push for that in years to come.

4. Nancy Cawdrey

A Stroke on Silk 

Ever since she was exposed to exotic cultures at a young age, artist Nancy Cawdrey has loved experimenting with colors, textures and patterns. As the daughter of a retired career officer, she traveled to many countries and immersed herself into the cultures there. This ultimately led her to studying in Paris for two years and in Britain for another five years. Today, she proudly displays her silk paintings in her gallery in Whitefish while continuing to explore all that the arts, and nature, have to offer. One of her most ambitious projects is the Forever Glacier series, encompassing 22 colorful silk paintings of mammals in Glacier, complete with an interactive educational component set to debut at the C.M. Russell Museum in the summer of 2020.


5. Christine Carbo

The Mysteries of Glacier

Moving from Florida to Montana as a 12-year-old would not be easy, but author Christine Carboturned that drastic change into passionate writing later in her life. After just a few months of living in the Flathead Valley, she fell in love with the beautiful lakes, mountains and wildlife. While she did have to tear herself away for her undergraduate education, she returned for graduate school and spent much of her free time exploring Glacier. Many trials and tribulations would follow her in life, but she would always come back to this place and to her passion for creative writing, ultimately leading to the creation of the Glacier Mystery Series.

6. Amy Grisak


Looking for a wearer of many hats? Look no further than Amy Grisak. An award-winning freelance writer and photographer, Amy shares her passions in everything from gardening in our challenging Montana climate to seeing the stars in Glacier National Park. She notably spent nearly a decade working on natural history films for National Geographic and BBC, getting up close and personal to everything from ground squirrels to grizzly bears. Additionally, her articles have been published in The New Pioneer, The Farmer’s Almanac, Bugle Sky & Telescope and many more.

7. Jim Williams

Path of the Puma

For over 27 years, award-winning wildlife biologist Jim Williams has been working for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Born in Iowa farm country and raised on the beach in San Diego, he has spent his entire life finding the wild, from wildlife conservation projects in Chile and Argentina to studying mountain lion ecology right here on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front. Just last year, he wrote a book titled Path of the Puma: The Remarkable Resilience of the Mountain Lion. In it, he details his years of studies and describes how the mountain lion has become a reinvigorated species when so many other species have declined.

8. Becky Lomax

Guides to Discovery

Writing from Whitefish, Becky Lomax takes pride in celebrating the outdoors. She pursues stories of discovery and seasons them with the voice of experience, whether she is on foot, skis or bicycle. So far, she has covered birding, historic ski lodges, alpine hiking trails, bike paths, backpacking adventures and kayaking. Her love of national parks has led her to author several Moon Travel Guides, including The Complete Guide to All 59 National Parks and The Glacier National Park Travel Guide, now in its sixth edition. Now there can only be more to come!

9. John Fraley

Backcountry Tales

Fascinated by those who came before him, John Fraley has been the proud author of three historical books on Glacier. His books construct beautiful narratives from the testimonies of old-timer Montanans, as John strives to preserve their stories and adventures for future generations. He also uses his first-hand knowledge of the sweeping Montana landscape from his 40-year career with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to bring readers a deep sense of place. Today, his multiple wildlife biology degrees have led him to an adjunct faculty member position at Flathead Community College while he continues to research and write about the tales of old.


10. Jake Bramante


In 2011, Jake Bramante became the first person to hike all of Glacier’s 734 miles of trails. It took him three pairs of shoes and five months to accomplish this goal. After blogging about his experience, he received a ton of responses and questions, which led him to create a unique day hike map that would allow people to find trails based on location in the park, ability level and recommendation (aka which ones are “the best”). The map was such a hit that Jake decided to continue the trend. He now has maps for the Zion, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Yosemite and Olympic national parks, with a Rocky Mountain National Park one on the way.

14. Marc Ducharme

Home Away from Home

Growing up in Ft. McMurray, Alberta, Canada, Marc Ducharme  had a firm belief that he’d make it to the National Hockey League. At the age of 20, he realized two things: 1) he wasn’t going to make it and 2) he had no other marketable skills. Marc proceeded to go to college where he graduated in Hotel & Restaurant Management and spent the following 10 years working his way through the hospitality industry ranks in Banff, Alberta. After spending some time in Hawai’i, he finally made it to the Flathead Valley about 13 years ago. He is currently the General Manager of Xanterra’s Glacier Division, overseeing all hotel, food & beverage, retail and transportation services in Glacier.

11. Alex Neill

From One Traveler to Another

Once a Montanan, always a Montanan! While Kalispell native Alex Neill spent a lot of time traveling the world during her graduate and postgraduate years, nothing was ever quite the same as living in this beautiful state. That realization brought her home and helped her decide to share that beauty with the world. She started an Instagram page and a family vacation blog to recount her experiences, providing fellow travelers with helpful tips from a local perspective. Her following currently stands at over 26,000 people and counting.

12. Racene Friede

The Power of Tourism

Heralding from the small Montana cattle town of Ovando, Racene Friede grew up on the southern end of the Crown of the Continent – an upbringing that helped establish her inherent love for Big Sky Country. She has spent the majority of her professional career promoting travel to Montana and has served as the Executive Director for Glacier Country Tourism since 2007. Racene is also actively involved with Tourism Matters to Montana, the Blackfoot Challenge and the Montana Chamber of Commerce. It is because of people like her that tourism is one of the top two industries in the state.

13. Caeli Quinn

Climate Ride

Bicycling around the world is not an easy feat, but Caeli Quinn had a love for it. After graduating from Northwestern University, she spent ten years riding from country to country. It was during her travels to China and Myanmar that she discovered her passion for active transportation and environmental issues. Inspired to promote understanding, she co-founded the nonprofit organization Climate Ride. Together, her team organizes life-changing charitable biking and hiking events to raise awareness and support for sustainability, active transportation and environmental causes.


11. Jan Metzmaker

How It All Started…

Twenty years ago, the Glacier Fund (now the Glacier National Park Conservancy) was created and at its helm was founding director Jan Metzmaker. From a young age, Jan was hardwired for community action, whether it was handing out political brochures in junior high or protesting for causes as she got older. Her strong spirit was a natural fit for Glacier when the search for starting a non-profit fundraising organization began in 1999. Jan stayed on as the director until 2007, growing the organization and creating immense amounts of change. Without her, the Conservancy and Glacier National Park would not be what they are today.

16. Scott Burch

On the Waterfront

The 1930s marked a significant time in Glacier’s history, as well as in the history of the Burch family. In 1938, Arthur J. Burch purchased the contract to provide tour boat services in the park from Captain J.W. Swanson. While Captain Swanson was the first to build and operate boats on the lakes of Glacier, the company has remained in the Burch family for 81 years. Today, it is operated by Scott Burch and his wife Barbara, who work daily to keep alive their family’s long tradition of exceptional visitor services on their historic tour boats. Whether at Lake McDonald or Many Glacier, they are ready to set sail!

17. Ron Casey

All Aboard the Red Bus

There really is no image more iconic to Glacier than a Red Bus on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. As the first authorized motor transportation utility in any National Park, they are quite the historical experience for locals and tourists alike. Glacier currently operates 33 of its original buses, making it the oldest touring fleet of vehicles anywhere in the world. Driving one of those buses in the summer time is Jammer Ron Casey. A retired postman from Helena, Ron has been jamming since 2005 and makes a memorable impact on his passengers every day. During the off-season, he loves to spend time visiting his daughters, skiing and bike riding.

18. Ed DesRosier

Blackfeet Culture

Ed is the owner and operator of Sun Tours, an interpretive Native/Blackfeet Bus Tour Concessioner of Montana’s Glacier National Park. Sun Tours is starting its 25th operating season. Now living in St. Mary, Montana, Ed is an enrolled Blackfeet Tribal Member and has lived his entire life on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Summers of his youth were spent working for the Museum on the Plains Indian in Browning. The park and reservation land have been a constant study in summer and winter. Most of his youth and adult years included enjoying the mountains and valleys of Glacier National Park where he hikes, snowshoes and skis hundreds of miles of trails, as well as climbing many of the park’s highest peaks.


19. Lisa Bate

An Eye for the Sky

While Glacier National Park is known for its grizzlies and goats, biologist Lisa Bate has always been more interested in its birds and bats. For many years, she has done groundbreaking work with these animals in the park, striving to give a voice to the “underdogs” who do not necessarily grab headlines. Some of her most notable studies have been on the harlequin duck population, a group that faces just as many threats due to climate change as other larger species. In 2016, she received the Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Award and has grown her work even more since then.

20. Jami Belt

Citizen Science

In a park as large and grand as Glacier, it is impossible for the few biologists to collect all the data they need without a little assistance. Since 2005, the Citizen Science program has stepped up to fill in those gaps. The program, coordinated by Jami Belt, allows community members to study the animals and plants of Glacier. Jami has been on board with the program since its humble beginnings, working alongside other scientists to educate people about the park’s vital ecosystems. She is continually inspired by the score of participants dedicated to active engagement in research.

21. John Waller

From Bears to Lynx

For the past 18 years, wildlife biologist John Waller has been the resident grizzly bear expert at Glacier National Park. Whether he’s keeping tabs on their population numbers or hosting bear safety talks and podcasts, John does his part to help both visitors and employees understand the bears of the park. Recently, he has found a new passion in his research: the Canada lynx. Rarely studied or seen in the park, the lynx is shaping up to be the animal of the year and John is very excited to be able to study it. As a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, he knows they need just as much attention as the bears do.

Grouse Mountain Lodge – Whitefish