Montana State Senator Mike Phillips visited McCallie School on Monday to speak about protecting the environment and his efforts to promote ecological diversity, particularly in his work to reintroduce the gray wolf to the Rocky Mountain regions.
Phillips worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service from 1981 until 1997, when he partnered with McCallie alumnus Ted Turner ’56 to found the Turner Endangered Species Fund, where he served as executive director and the Turner Biodiversity Divisions, where he was coordinator.
Phillips’ visit — timed to coordinate with Earth Day week — was made possible by the efforts of Rhett and Angela Turner, son and daughter-in-law of Ted Turner and parents of McCallie senior Rhett Turner.
He was elected to the Montana State House of Representatives in 2006, and he served in that body until he was elected to the Montana State Senate in 2012. His service in the Senate will extend through 2020.
His legislative work focuses on climate change and energy policy, and Phillips was responsible for passing the nation’s most comprehensive legislation on geological sequestration of carbon. This led to an invitation from the White House to work directly with the Obama administration and the U.S. Senate on comprehensive green energy and climate change legislation.
Phillips has made wildlife ecology his life’s work since earning degrees in ecology from the University of Illinois and the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. Throughout his career as a conservation biologist and in public service, Phillips has focused on the recovery of imperiled species, integration of private land in conservation efforts and socio-political aspects of natural resource use and management.
In Chapel, Phillips spoke to the Upper School about his work for wolf recovery and reintroduction as a lens through which he explored humanity’s longstanding inability to accommodate wild, self-willed nature.
In addition to his remarks in Chapel, Phillips also met with students during a “Big Table” discussion during lunch, and he spoke to three sections of AP Environmental Science about politics and the environment with an emphasis on climate change and energy policies. He urged students to learn about the issues and threats to the environment and cast informed votes to make the world a better place.