By Jeffrey Tiberi

Those of us who live in Montana are fortunate people.
Those of us who know good people, good men and good women, are lucky.
Those of us who know great people, great women and great men, are very lucky.
Tom Pick was a great man. All of us here today are very lucky to have known him.

Tom was able to combine two values that are cherished by the vast, vast majority of the seven billion people currently on Earth. I'm sure that the 100 billion people who lived before us on this planet also valued peace and nature, for both are key to our survival.

Tom took those two values - peace and nature - and created a seamless delivery to thousands of people. He could talk to anyone. He knew many things. His quick smile and quiet demeanor would not let barriers arise. He knew what to say and when to say it. He's one of the few humans I know that actually mastered savior faire.

How else do you explain his many decades of devotion to the soil and water of our nation, the two parts of nature upon which all others flow?

How else do you explain him taking peace and nature to a war torn country, giving part of his life, to help others in a great time of need?

We lost a great man, this Tom Pick. His impact upon Montana will remain for generations. We are fortunate, and we are very lucky to have been here when Tom Pick was here.

Jeffrey Tiberi
Policy Director
Montana Association of Conservation Districts

By Gordon Haugen

Tom and I spent many days over the years hunting and fishing throughout Montana. He helped me plan and develop habitat on a section of land that I purchased North Denton. He was an advocate for Montana's Fish and Wildlife resources. He had great interest in upland game bird habitat enhancement and the use of cover crops to improve soil health. On several of the ranches we had hunted on over the years, he worked with the owners to encouraged the planting of cover crops that not only increased soil fertility but provided habitat for wildlife.
That being said, I first meet Tom at a State Meeting of Pheasants Forever in 2006. At that meeting the concept of Upland Habitat Enhancement on State School Trust Lands, that had public access was discussed. Tom and I developed a strong bond at that meeting as we both had researched what opportunities there where to enhance habitat on state school trust lands. He was instrumental in getting state lands that had public access and were in agricultural leases mapped for all counties in Central and Eastern Montana. This under taking identified over 100,000 acres. We worked to craft a MOU that was eventually signed between that State Department of Lands and State Department Fish and Wildlife that established a process by which habitat enhancement of these lands could be developed. The MOU is in the Upland Game Bird Enhancement Strategic Plan and Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program User's Manual.
Tom took the lead in developing a publication "Life after CRP", that outlined ways land owners could mitigate the impacts of the loss CRP acres on upland game bird habitat. Tom was appointed to the Upland Game Bird Enhancement Advisory Council in the fall of 2015 by the Governor. He would have been great asset to that Council.

There others here today that will comment on his involvement in the Gallatin Valleys Chapter's Youth Hunters Program and his role as chairman of the Chapter's habitat committee and the establishment of a hunting area that emphasizes youth hunting North of Bozeman on land administered by College of Agriculture at Montana State University.

As for story's there are many, but the one that sticks in my mind, was while hunting elk this fall (2015) on the Round Grove Ranch. It had snowed about 6 inches the night before. While driving up to the place where we were going to hunt Tom said, "if we don't see elk today we never will". Less than minute later, a herd of 25 so crossed the ranch road in front of use. The elk stopped less than 100 yards away on hill side. Tom got of the pick-up and I said, "shoot Tom shoot". He got back into the pick up and said, "that is not hunting, I am not a road hunter". The next day, being the day of the Bobcat / Grizzly football game, you know where I was... at the game. He went back to the ranch and posted himself on the ridge well before day break where we had seen elk the day before. He was successful getting a cow. He could have shoot a bull, but he had drawn a cow tag for that unit.

Tom was my best friend....

Gordon Haugen

By Wendy Williams

I worked with Tom in Gallatin County completing river resource inventories and assessments on both the East Gallatin and Story Creek. I learned so much from Tom when we were in the field. He was so very passionate about the river ecosystems but in a very gentle and professional manner that did not step on anybody's toes, landowner or goverment employee! I had the pleasure of sitting across from him in the state office for the last year of his career. Later in my career, I wasn't as "uppity" as I was earlier on, but when I did get riled up because of my passion for doing things right the first time, Tom had the ability to calm me down with just a phrase or two. He was such a great inspiration to everyone that he touched and he will be so missed, especially by his soulmate and wife, Kathleen. May everyone rest in peace without Tom in their lives!

Wendy Williams
Bozeman, Montana

By Corey Swenson

I had the privilege of working with Tom on several stream assessments in Eastern Montana. He was a multi-talented conservationist that related exceptionally well with Ag producers of every type. Always professional, ambitious and optimistic about a favorable outcome for all of the players in the game. I'm sure he was an equally successful private consultant and will be sorely missed. Glad to have know and worked with him!

Corey Swenson
Broadus, Montana

By Steve Alfred

It has been a long time in the past and it took me a while to sort through my brain files but then it came to me. I remember those Pick kids, especially Cindy. Sorry to hear of his passing. Sounds like it would have been a pleasure to spend time with a man like that. May the comforting hand of the Lord be with you all in this time of sadness. He will hold you up and give you the courage to get through...

Steve Alfred
Bridgeport, West Virginia

By Stephen Vandergrift

I'm sitting looking at Tom's photo in my senior year book and wondering where all the time went. Tom and I were good friends though most of grade school and all of high school. We ran into each other a couple of times since and enjoyed catching up. Followed his exploits in Iraq, was proud of his service. All my memories of Tom are of a supremely good guy and a gentle soul. The world is a better place for his living and a worse place for his passing.

Stephen Vandergrift
Rockledge, Florida

By Brenda Frank Shultz

So sad to hear about Tom. He was a gentle soul. Grew up with him and we graduated from high school together. Tom, Sander and Calen traveled to Bridgeport, WV for his high school class reunion in 1992 so many class members got to visit with him at that time. With your consent I would like to put his obituary in our local paper. With deepest sympathy to the Pick family.

Brenda Frank Shultz

By Dick Iversen

Sorry to hear of Tom's passing. I worked with Tom many times while we both worked for NRCS. Tom was a great listener, tried to arive at a good solution for issues we often faced in the field. Hope his family can work thru this loss, but remember many of us will miss this great person also.

Dick Iversen
Culbertson, Montana

By Clint and Mindy May

We have pheasant in our freezer because of Tom! Always generous, kind, and a fabulous neighbor. We will deeply miss visits across the driveway where Tom would always ask, "How are the kids doing?" or "Have you done any big adventures this summer?" Tom was always good for sharing in our family.

Clint and Mindy May
Bozeman, Montana

By Suzanna Soileau

Tom was an incredible person to work with and I am glad I had that opportunity. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Suzanna Soileau

By Clayton Marlow

Tom was professional in every sense. Fair, objective and quick to blunt personal criticism he always managed to pull something positive out of meetings and field tours. Importantly, Tom treated all of us as if we were worthy of his attention. All of us who worked with Tom will remember him in those quiet moments at the end of the day when we ask ourselves if we have done any good. Tom did.
Clayton Marlow
Bozeman, Montana

By Warren Kellogg

Throughout his life, Tom has been a dedicated and passionate advocate for Montana's natural resources. More recently, his active involvement with the Yellowstone River Technical Advisory Committee and CEA was absolutely critical to attaining our final objectives. What we all will miss most though is Tom's friendship...his positive attitude... his sense of humor... his thoughtfulness... and someone that you could always count on. I've learned a lot from Thomas over the 30 years I've known him. He was my friend...our friend. He will be missed.

Tom is an inspirational figure in my life and leaves an incredible legacy, by friend & colleague Adam Sigler

I first met Tom in the spring of 2005 shortly after moving to Bozeman to work for Jim Bauder with MSU Extension. We met because Tom and Jim had orchestrated a partnership between NRCS and MSU on a research project to evaluate water quality benefits from NRCS implementation of vegetated buffer strips between animal feeding operations and streams. There were four of these projects on ranches spread out across Southwest MT from the Beaverhead and the Big Hole to the tributaries of the Yellowstone. Traveling with Tom and Jim to meet the ranchers on each of these operations in these beautiful MT watersheds was a formative experience in my earliest days at MSU. The comfortable, informed and approachable way that Tom interacted with the ag producers set the stage for me to develop comfortable working relationships with the ranchers that carried through the next three years of visits to collect water quality data. This would never have been possible without the bridges Tom had built and those three years proved to be some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in my career to that point.

Work on that project inspired me to pursue a related project for my masters degree starting in 2006 and I asked Tom to be on my graduate committee. Tom said he would be honored which I found very humbling because I felt the honor was all mine.

The theme of working closely with ag producers on research to address water resource issues was becoming strongly engrained and in 2011 I began a PhD project, this time working with wheat farmers in central MT. Again, I reached out to Tom and he agreed to be on the advisory committee for the project and to help lay the foundation for trusting relationships between the producers and the research team. Tom stepped off that committee when he retired from the NRCS, but I continued to talk to him about that and other projects through the years at meetings and social events.

Tom has been an inspirational part of my experiences in the watersheds and communities of MT. I would not be where I am today without his passion, kindness and help opening doors. Tom leaves behind an incredible legacy and lives on through the many lives and watersheds he has positively influenced.

Cheers my friend,

By Rick Sojda

I was a colleague of Tom's and we worked closely on a research project studying the hydrology of wetlands in Sheridan County, Montana. This photo was taken in 2005 at Wigeon Slough Waterfowl Production Area. Tom had a wonderful understanding of the natural history of prairie wetlands, especially their soils.


A Memory of my uncle Tom Pick, by his niece Sho Campbell

A small act of generosity by an adult can unlock the door to a wonderful world for a kid. My uncle Tom Pick did that for me by putting a fly fishing rod in my hands. In doing so he gave me a gift of knowledge and skill that has brought me immeasurable joy, employment, and love.

The way I remember it is this. I was maybe nine or ten. We were out along the slow and muddy lower Green River south of the tumbleweed, cattle, and oil town in which we lived in Wyoming. Tom was married at that time to my aunt Jessie. I don’t know if Calen and Sander were born yet.

We all lived on a dirt street in the town of Mableton, above Big Piney. Tom was always up to amazing things that I wanted to do too, like shooting his bow, cooking wild turkey, growing vegetables. I used to watch him practice archery. I longed to do it too.

Now, before my eyes, he was whipping a monofilament line in the air with grace and focus and the intent of catching wild trout. I was transfixed. At some point, Tom handed me the rod. He must have shown me how to cast because I remember the feeling of casting. More importantly for a pre-teen who felt very much disenfranchised from the world and out of place in her town, I remember feeling pride. I could do this.

Casting a fly rod, as many of you know, is not so easy a task, but that day the fly caught me, metaphorically speaking, and I was hooked. I don’t remember catching any fish, but it was the intent and means that intrigued me. I knew in that moment that fly fishing was something I wanted to do.

In life, the moment is the key, and Tom had a knack for seizing it. Engrossed as he was in his sport that day he chose to pause for me. He turned his focus and energy on me, his gangly bucktoothed niece, to tend to my curiosity and teach me what I wanted to know. In doing so he gave me a gift. He showed me an option in life. By the muddy Green River, on that otherwise dull day, I became a woman who fishes.

By becoming a woman who fishes, particularly a woman who fly fishes, I gained access to a lifetime of on wild rivers with wild species and wonderful friends. Over the years I got better at fly fishing, in large part thanks to guided trips with our grandfather. I also gained knowledge, competence, and confidence.

In college I shared my love of fly fishing and literature with a man who was a fishing guide. We fell in love. Later, I curated a museum exhibit about the native fish species that Lewis and Clark first documented for science, how the Corps of Discovery fished, and how the Native American tribes they encountered fished. My exhibit, Undaunted Anglers, is on line and permanent display at Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trail and Visitors Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska. I have been published in Fly Fisher Magazine, and I count my happiest summer days as those spent in friends’ boats on the mellifluous Yellowstone River near my home.

Yes, I’m well aware of the biblical verse about teaching a man to fish. I suppose it is applicable here in the sense that fishing feeds my soul. However, to me this story is about Tom’s generosity and awareness. It’s about the fact that he chose to take one small moment to include me in his world. In doing so he made my world bigger. That was Tom. He was always willing to include us in his world. He was a man with a generous soul. To me, generosity of spirit is love. For my uncle’s love and for fly fishing I am forever grateful.

I will think of you always when I cast my line, Tom. Thank you for your time.

Love, Sho

By Tammy Swinney

As I sit here preparing to share my memories of Tom, I was planning to start off by mentioning when and how we first met. While I know it was in the early 2000's and probably at a MT Watershed Coordination Council event, I am unable to recall that specific meeting. At first this troubled me. But then I realized it doesn't really matter. What is important and what I do remember about Tom is that he was a quiet but extremely thoughtful individual who had a passion for the outdoors and a deep resolve to work toward improving the natural environment. In the professional world he inspired me and provided subtle mentoring that I cherish today. Tom always had a smile and kind words whenever I saw him. I do remember a wonderful day spent skiing at Big Sky with Tom and Kathleen several years ago. We spent the day relishing in our mutual love for our Montana backyard and Kathleen and I enjoyed Tom's dance with the snow on his tele-skis. I am a richer person for having known Tom. He was truly a beautiful person inside and out.

Tammy Swinney