Northern Plains hosts online public event |

Northern Plains hosts online public event


The Northern Plains Resource Council has hosted an annual gathering of members and guests every autumn since 1972. As with so many things in 2020, this year’s meeting will differ from all prior gatherings. The event, which features a wide range of speakers and workshops, will be hosted online via the Zoom platform due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly all of the meeting is open to the public and will take place November 19-21.

“Of course, we will miss seeing our friends and neighbors in person, but we are excited that folks from across Montana and beyond can join our online gathering more easily this year,” said Northern Plains Chair and Birney rancher Jeanie Alderson.

“We know that people are seeking community and ways to get involved, given all of the uncertainty in the world right now,” continued Alderson. “This event allows people to engage in some of the most important issues facing our state today. Whether it’s building stronger local food systems, combating climate change, expanding soil health, or developing new clean energy opportunities, we have a group of dynamic presenters helping us realize a positive, resilient vision for Montana.”

Missoula-based writer, poet, farmer, and educator Josh Slotnick will deliver the keynote address on Friday, November 20, at 5:30 pm. Slotnick spent 22 years at the University of Montana, teaching and helping develop programs at the intersection of ecology and agriculture. He established the PEAS farm (Program in Ecological Agriculture and Society) and co-founded Garden City Harvest. Slotnick currently serves as a Missoula County Commissioner and runs an organic family farm with his wife.

The Northern Plains event will also include sessions about ranching in coal country, the impact of the pandemic on America’s food system, a successful six-year effort to establish Montana’s first radioactive oil waste rules, innovative methods to increase soil health, and more.

The title of this year’s event is Pull Up a Chair: Building Power Where We Are.

This references the history of Northern Plains, which began with ranching families in eastern Montana gathering around kitchen tables to discuss how to protect their land and livelihoods from encroaching coal development.

Alderson, who is the daughter of founding members, describes the significance of recognizing this history. “As an organization, Northern Plains has always looked to its past to help us plan for the future.”

Northern Plains Chair and Birney rancher, Jeanie Alderson. Photo courtesy Northern Plains Resource Council

“We have grown and thrived for almost fifty years now due in large part to the wisdom of those who came before us,” said the fourth-generation rancher. “So, we take the principles established in our past – this duty to protect our air, land, water, and family farms and ranches – and use the technology and promise of today to craft a vibrant, durable future for coming generations. In some ways it’s fitting that this year’s meeting will be online, because so much of what we’ll be talking about is how to use new innovations to build stronger communities across Montana.”

To learn more about the Northern Plains 2020 Annual Meeting, visit or call (406) 248-1154.

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