Below you'll find:
Why Am I Running?
A Biographical Sketch
My Ecological Credentials
My Educational Credentials
Why Am I Running?
Why am I running? It's all about freedom and prosperity. Out-of-control government spending threatens both freedom and prosperity. It would be advantageous to have more legislators with business experience in the state legislature. Our out-of-state children dream of coming back here someday when they are raising their own children. In order for that to happen, Montana needs to be much more than the astoundingly beautiful place it is, and have more than the boundless outdoor recreational opportunities it affords. It needs a healthy business climate and a strong, good-paying job market. My experience in small business and manufacturing can help.
I want to serve the people of Montana. I think I can best do this by keeping taxes low and government regulations light. The economy can thrive under these conditions.
This is a positive vision for the state, one of growth, freedom and prosperity.
Tom Burnett was born in Sheridan, Montana, in 1954, second of nine children. His father was a school teacher; his mother, a full-time homemaker. They are both MSU graduates. Besides living in Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley for 43 years, the family has lived in Baker, Arlee, Billings, Deer Lodge, and Whitewater. Local schools he has attended are Lamotte primary school, Bozeman Senior, where he graduated, and MSU, where he graduated, with honors, with a degree in Agriculture. He and his wife presently live in the bounds of House District 63, the district in which he is seeking re-election. They have lived in five different homes within the current boundaries of House District 63.
He owned and operated Marathon Seat Covers from 1978 until he sold it in March of 2007. The business grew from one employee to 19 employees, selling to customers in fifty states. He is presently retired, waiting for a call-up from the NBA. It could be a long wait.
Tom is a service-oriented person, having helped with community clean-ups, serving in soup kitchens, homeless programs, food drives and at Habitat for Humanity. He is a volunteer leader for the Boy Scouts of America, and was a mentor in the public schools. He taught accelerated math, every week, to fourth-graders, as an unpaid volunteer. He founded the Spring Scientific and Aeronautical Institute, a program for youth mixing the memorizing of botanical names of ornamental and native plants with recreation. He has served on welfare committees at his church since 1976. In the 1990s, he served on the City of Bozeman Board of Adjustment. He was appointed by governors Marc Racicot and Judy Martz, successively, to serve on the Governor's Council on Families. His period of service covered a six year span.
Tom is a gun owner and a member of the NRA. He engages in outdoor recreation as most Montanans do, occassionally hunting, fishing, and boating, and frequently hiking and biking. Other interests include music composition and playing basketball. His wife of 35 years is Melani (Richards) of Sioux Falls, SD. They are parents of four children, located in Utah and Nevada, and grandparents of three.
My Ecological Credentials
I attended Summer Institute in Deer Lodge, Montana as a freshman. It was a 6-week, daytime, intensive ecology school put on by a passionate high school biology teacher. It covered geology, range studies, botany, antelope ecology, environmental remediation, aquatic studies, and the alpine biome. It was fabulous. This gave me the eye and mind of an ecologist.
My Dad preached Henry David Thoreau. I read A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers and Walden. I try to live by some of the dictums, (dicta?) in Walden.
I've read David Quammen, Bill McKibben, and Matt Ridley, and sceptically, James Howard Kunstler. Also Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac.
As a teenager, I read a book on African jungle canopy ecology.
I wrote A Thin Slice of Sky, part family memoir, part naturalist's paean.
Observed and wrote about the Brazilian equatorial rain forest, Ecuador's Amazon headwaters jungle, and authored an article about Ecuador's famed “cloud forest” in PERC Reports.
Attained a degree in Agriculture Science from MSU. Coursework included studies of botany, native and cultivated plants, soil science, biochemistry, biology, and weed science.
I stop for botanical gardens.
I enjoy the outdoors in our fabulous northern Rockies. Some of the places I've hiked, paddled a canoe, and biked are:
Emerald Lake, Mount Blackmore, Sacajewea Peak, Spanish Lakes, Crazy Mountains, Granite Peak, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, Boulder River, North Fork of the Flathead, Yellowstone River, Gallatin River, Madison River, Missouri River, Boiling River, Ennis Lake, Canyon Ferry, Holter Dam, Ruby Dam, Flathead River, Pine Creek, Tom Miner Campground, Big Creek, Mount Powell, nearly all of the day hikes around Bozeman. I've hunted from Baker to the Swan Range. I've skied Bridger, Big Mountain and Big Sky. I fish a little.
I owned a natural weed control business, Marathon Biological. We collected bio-control insects from sites in the western states and sold them to land managers in the mid-west and Wyoming. I know my noxious weeds, and a dozen insects like Trichosirocalus horridus and Urophora cardui.
I collect plants and press them in my journal. I am qualified to be a botanical guide for the not-too-knowledgeable tourist.
I occasionally commute around town on my bicycle.
My Educational Credentials
I love education. I support education.
My education began at home, with parents who encouraged learning and set an example of life-long learning, formal and otherwise. This is a key to student success. My education also took place in the formal setting of the public schools. I graduated from Bozeman High and MSU. Now my continuing education occurs via reading in the classics and current non-fiction. (Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare. Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, bio-ethics, political economy, history of the Middle Ages, natural history, music history, music composition.)
Father supported our family as a teacher in the public schools. He loved students; they loved him. The least favorite parts of his vocation were dealing with education unions and bureaucracy.
I recently paid part-tuition for 3 people enrolled at local and distant state-owned universities. As recently as 2009, my wife an I were enrolled at MSU. I am deeply enmeshed in the educational enterprise!
Local schools attended by our immediate family members:
Lamotte, Sacajewea, BHS, CJMS, Mount Ellis Elementary, Hawthorne, Home School, Belgrade schools.
I taught Junior Achievement classes. I volunteered as a CAP Mentor in the schools for five years. I worked as an independent mentor. I taught Continental Math League weekly, as a volunteer. I see the workings of our schools, their strengths and needs. When it comes to education, I put my money and time where my mouth is. Melani and I gave funds to help our daughter's classroom with teaching materials and supplies. I buy books for classrooms.
One daughter and our daughter-in-law were, until recently, full-time public school teachers.