Stockman Bank: The Many Hats of Paul Hansen

The Many Hats of Paul Hansen – The life of putting out fires…and the joy that comes with it.

As a Branch Manager, there are days that feel like all you are doing is putting out fires. By the end of the day, those fires may be put out or at least contained until coming back the next morning. However, when Paul Hansen, Branch Manager of our Plentywood bank, leaves for the day, he steps into a completely different role of “putting out fires.” He is a volunteer firefighter for Sheridan County and has been one for the past 13 years.

Stockman Bank: The Many Hats of Paul Hansen

Paul Hansen – Plentywood Fire Department

What motivated you to become a volunteer firefighter?

“I was asked to volunteer by several veteran firefighters when I first moved to Plentywood. After careful consideration, I decided to join because I knew the department was short-handed and needed people to step up and serve.”

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced while volunteering?

“Making sure you get the required training hours for the year can be a challenge. There are times when training is scheduled after a long day at work or on the weekend.”

What has been your favorite memory (or most frightening memory) volunteering?

Favorite:  “As a volunteer firefighter, you build a bond with your fellow firefighters. Our department has bankers, truck drivers, farmers, and mechanics from all kinds of backgrounds. It’s rewarding to come together and work towards the common goal of keeping our communities and each other safe.”

Frightening:  “You really can’t describe what it’s like to put on an air pack and go into a burning house. You can’t see your hand in front of your face, it’s hot, and you’re trying to determine where the fire is or if anyone is inside. You’re relying on your training, equipment and team to get the job done and get out safely.”

What achievement or contribution are most proud of?

“Funding is limited for the fire department and our equipment needs to be updated to stay in compliance with safety standards. I’ve been a part of writing several successful grants and fundraisers that have provided much needed money to help with these purchases.”

How has volunteering changed you?

“When you go out on a call, whether a grass fire, house fire, or car accident, the people involved are having maybe their worst day ever. There is a feeling of pride and achievement when you can save their crop or pasture, keep their house from burning, or safely remove them from a wrecked car.  It makes all the training worth it.”

Any other thoughts on being a volunteer firefighter?

“There is a national shortage of volunteer emergency responders (fire, EMS, etc.) so if anyone has the interest and dedication, I would really encourage them to contact your local department and volunteer.  It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.”

We tip our hat to Paul and all the volunteer fire fighters and emergency responders who help keep our state safe.

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Stockman Bank: The Many Hats of Sam Hould

The Many Hats of Sam Hould

One of our most enjoyable blog series is the Many Hats series, where we learn more about our employees! We get to know what they do outside of the workplace, how they are involved in their communities, what brings them joy, and other interesting information they share with us!

This one is no exception. Read on to see what Sam Hould, Facilities and Security Safety Officer, does when he isn’t working on bank projects.

Born in Malta and receiving his education in Miles City, Sam Hould has seen and done so much– all while never leaving the state of Montana. He is a former contractor and has now been with the bank over ten years, building a very successful facilities and security program. The bank has been in growth mode for the past several years, so to say Sam has been busy with new building projects would be an understatement! But one thing has always been certain – music is in his blood and the passion to write, play guitar, and sing has been unwavering.

Stockman Bank: The Many Hats of Sam Hould

Sam doing what he loves

His love of music started at an early age, growing up with a dad who played guitar and sang.  The influence was always there. He even learned to design and build guitars and worked at Gibson Guitars in Bozeman. Some of Sam’s guitars can be found across the U.S. – from New York City to Sidney, Montana. This talent is commendable, but what really ignites his musical passion is writing his own songs and lyrics. Although he considers himself a “rocker” at heart, he likes all genres of music.

Writing songs is no easy feat. Asked how he accomplishes this while working full time, he laughed and said, “when I have to drive from Miles City to Missoula for work, I have at least 7 ½ hours to think. That affords me a lot of time to see the sites and formulate a song in my head. I always keep a pen and notebook with me in case something comes to mind and write it down.  If a melody starts going through my head – I record it on my phone and  I write it down.” Asked how the song “Montana” came to be, Sam said that it originated on one of his work trips to Missoula.  Once he arrived, he went straight to the hotel and wrote it down, sang it in his phone, and sent it to his bandmates. The rest is history!

Playing guitar and singing in a band gives Sam the opportunity to expand his musical passion even further. “Top Shelf Racket” consists of Sam Hould, Jake Elwood, CJ Desjardin, and Rich Ruland.  They started out as a cover band and evolved into writing and playing their own music. They’ve opened for several groups and played many varied venues around the state. Sam said the name Top Shelf Racket means “really good noise from the top shelf.”

Stockman Bank: The Many Hats of Sam Hould

Top Shelf Racket – from left CJ Deshardin, Rich Ruland, Jake Elwood and Sam

They hope to begin performing again once the state fully reopens and the pandemic has passed. In the meantime, Sam and the group are busy recording an album which they plan to release later this summer.  It will include songs inspired by the wonders of Montana and performed with a heartfelt love of all that this state has to offer.

Successful contractor and department head during the day, and rocking musician at night. There may not be a more rewarding way to live life.  We tip our hat to Sam and wish him all the best on his musical journey!

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Many Hats - Brenda Hittmeier

PTA President and Beyond – Brenda Hittmeier, Managing Director Billings, CFP®

How does a Texas girl who arrives in Montana in 1984 with plenty of sandals and sundresses survive a season she’d never experienced – winter – and go on to become the Managing Director of our Billings Wealth Management group?

Brenda Enjoying Winter

Brenda Enjoying Winter

Her story is one of serendipity and her extreme intelligence certainly had something to do with it as well.

Why financial planning?

No one should be surprised that Brenda, president of her children’s elementary school PTA, was interested in offering meaningful programs for parents well beyond bake sales and fundraisers.

At the suggestion of a few of her Investment Club members, Brenda invited , Barbara Burg to a PTA meeting to present a program on how to save for your child’s higher education. Ms. Burg, who held the certification of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™,delivered an excellent program to the PTA parents on the importance of basic financial planning.

This struck a cord with Brenda who was so intrigued by the idea of financial planning that, after the talk, she began a 24-month course of study for her CFP®. With her youngest in Kindergarten, Brenda had 2 ½ hours each day to study and, of course, once the children were off to bed, she studied long into the night.

After completing her course study, Brenda went to work for DA Davidson part-time. As her children grew, her job responsibilities increased and changed over the years.

How did she find her way to Stockman Wealth Management?

In 2013, noticing a help wanted ad in the Billings Gazette that seemed to be written exactly for her qualifications, Brenda applied with the encouragement of her husband, Pat. She quickly answered, admitting she may not have even spell checked her responses. At the time, Ron O’Donnell was ready to move Stockman Asset Management in a new direction. Along with Eric George, the three planned a 30-minute coffee interview which turned into a two-hour meeting. The rest is history.

Fly fishing in Yellowstone

Fly fishing in Yellowstone

The Crux of Financial Planning

Today, Brenda manages the Billings office. She leads the team knowing that the work done for clients is not so much about actual dollars and cents but rather about the psychological and emotional nature of money. An individual or family financial plan, while based on money, holds so much more than a dollar amount. The peace of mind and security that can be given to clients is truly at the heart of what financial planning is all about. Goals that are put in place and worked on over years and decades offer peace of mind knowing that a firm foundation supports your individual plan.

Outside of Work

Over the years, Brenda has embraced living in Montana’s four seasons, especially winter. She can be found hanging out with her husband most weekends at their cabin in Red Lodge. They love hiking, skiing, fishing and her new found warm-weather sport of mountain biking. She humbly explains she is horrible and her whole family is scared she will injure herself. When asked about her proudest achievement, Brenda explains (and Pat agrees) that the pinnacle is raising three wonderful humans, all independent and making their own contributions to the world. There is no greater satisfaction than that!

Hiking in the Beartooths

Hiking in the Beartooths

To put together your personal financial plan, please contact us at any of our three offices in Billings, Helena or Missoula.

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Many Hats – Court Appointed Special Advocates

Many Hats – Court Appointed Special Advocates

The people of Stockman are involved in their communities in many ways. We have scout leaders, soccer coaches, non-profit board members and we have a very special group of three CASA volunteers who shared their insights and stories with us.

The Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, was established in 1977. In Montana, approximately 2,000 children every year, suffer abuse and neglect. These children often find themselves in a courtroom, crowded with a judge, a representative from a foster care agency, biological parents, family members, attorneys and other courtroom staff. These children need an advocate – someone to speak on their behalf.

Katie Lawler

CASA of Lewis and Clark and Broadwater Counties

Katie Lawler - Award

Katie Lawler – Award

I have been a CASA for 10 years and have been the fundraising chair of their annual Light of Hope Banquet for 9 years. I was drawn to the CASA program because of the amazing work they do on behalf of the most vulnerable population in our community – children.

Throughout my experience with CASA, I have had the privilege of getting to know 13 kids, all of which ended their cases in safe, supportive and loving homes through adoption by their amazing foster parents, or reunification with their birth parents. Being a CASA Advocate can be a challenging undertaking, as the majority of these kids have experienced things that most of us can not even begin to imagine. The process can sometimes be a long one, but it is 100% worth it in the end!

Tanna Yerger

CASA of Yellowstone County

Tanna Yerger - CASA Badge

Tanna Yerger – CASA Badge

About 2 years ago, I was sworn in as a CASA. Since then, I have had the privilege of helping 7 children be reunited with at least one of their birth parents. Volunteering for CASA is not for the faint of heart, but it is by far one of the most rewarding programs I have experienced. Having the opportunity to give children a voice in a situation that is completely out of their control is only the tip of the iceberg. In many cases, the children we work with are given access to services that they may not have otherwise been given such as dental care, medical assistance, and help in school.

I firmly believe that CASA makes a difference in our community. It is a privilege to help these children feel more in control of their lives despite their circumstances. Often, they are placed in foster care and are separated from their siblings. As a CASA, I have the ability to help set up a time and place to allow these siblings to be reunited and spend time with one another, even if it’s only for an hour. Seeing the look on their faces makes every difficult day worth it!

Acacia Madill

CASA of Yellowstone County

Acacia Madill - Swearing In

Acacia Madill – Swearing In

I became a part of the CASA program in November 2019 and am currently working on a case with 4 kids. I was drawn to CASA because I wanted to help children navigate through the system to hopefully continue on to have successful lives despite their negative circumstances. I also want to be a voice for their wishes and best interests.

CASA is a wonderful program that is helping to enrich the lives of children as they go through the system. Being a CASA is very eye opening to a world that I didn’t know existed prior to volunteering. It is rewarding to be the constant for those innocent kids that are thrown into a world they have no control over as they are sometimes bounced from place to place and without their biological parents.

Thank you!

We thank all of our state’s CASA volunteers for helping abused and neglected children in Montana to find a permanent home and the opportunity to thrive. To learn more about the CASA program or to volunteer, visit their website.

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The Many Hats of David Morgenroth

The Many Hats of David Morgenroth

David Morgenroth

David Morgenroth
Wealth Management Advisor, CFP®, EA

Sometimes you never know how much talent there is in the office next door. Our very own David Morgenroth is a wealth management advisor and a concert pianist. He has released a handful of solo albums and writes music as well. He took some time to share his passion with us. We are inspired by his amazing talent outside of the office.

Piano Lessons

“My mother insisted that my sisters and I take piano lessons beginning around age 8. Both sisters dropped to the wayside early on, and I threatened to do the same when I was 13. My teacher and my mother conspired to keep me going by introducing popular pieces and ragtime to the standard fare of Bach and Beethoven. It wasn’t a tough sell – the movie, The Sting, was still popular at the time, with its Marvin Hamlisch score heavily indebted to Scott Joplin. The following year, I heard several jazz pianists perform in Missoula, and I knew I had to play music.”

Stepping Onstage

“My first performance had to have been at age 9 or 10 at the Music Recital Hall on the University of Montana campus. It was completely terrifying; I remember how unnerved I was when I started playing and realized I could see the reflection of my hands and the keyboard in the fall board (the cover for the keyboard). It was not an auspicious beginning to a performance career. Nowadays, most of my performances occur in concert halls or home concert settings, after many years of playing everything from clubs and bars to weddings and bar mitzvahs.”

David performing with Buddy DeFranco

David performing with Buddy DeFranco

From Japan to Montana

“I played a concert with my friend Eden Atwood in Kita-Kyushu, Japan, in a hall with an excellent piano and packed with enthusiastic listeners. The concert was followed by a 21-course dinner at a traditional Japanese restaurant, hosted by a local doctor and huge jazz fan – an unforgettable evening! (It was especially great because my wife Barbara was there.) On the local side, playing Rhapsody in Blue with the Missoula Symphony in a summer outdoor concert for several thousand people was fun.”

Beyond the Music

“In my quest for knowledge, I found the world of investments captivating and embarked in a career as a trader. Years later, I realized I could leverage my experience to help improve people’s lives, financial and otherwise. It was an easy transition to Wealth Management, and Stockman became the ultimate fit for me, culturally and personally.”

Finding Balance

“Ambition in any life arena fuels achievement, but it can be a double-edged sword. For those of us who love our work (and we’re not workaholics!), it is important to raise our awareness of what we miss when all we do is work. Boiling things down to essentials is key – What can’t you live without? As life progresses, priorities change, and that’s OK. For example, thirty years ago I wanted to perform music all the time; now, a performance every few months is just fine. Also, I find that as I get older, I not only have learned that pacing myself is a good thing, but also that my wife, dogs, and music, along with hobbies and personal interests are all to varying degrees integral components of my health and well-being. And I almost forgot rest and relaxation – can’t take that for granted! My wife is my barometer and keeps me from overdoing it, and our dogs keep things light, fun, and real.”

We tip our hat to David and our employees who wear many hats to make our communities better places to live, work, and play!

Enjoy this video of David’s performance.

YouTube Video Link:

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The Many Hats of Tracy Petersen

The Many Hats of Tracy Petersen

Tracy Petersen, Operations Officer for our Plentywood bank, has a heart of gold, especially when it comes to four legged friends. Tracy is involved with Wolf Point Pound Puppies Animal Rescue.

Wolf Point Pound Puppies

The organization started by rescuing local dogs from Wolf Point, MT, to help get dogs out of the pound and into “furever” homes. The mission is to work toward eliminating stray and unwanted animals from the area around Wolf Point as well as surrounding counties. They promote spaying/neutering, vaccinations and healthy care of animals.

Tracy applied to be a foster for Wolf Point Pound Puppies in August 2017 and began fostering Rain, a Llewellyn Setter, in September. Rain was removed from her home due to abuse and neglect. Usually animals are in foster homes for short periods of time. Such was not the case with Rain. Rain stayed with Tracy for 6 months and eventually the adoption was complete.

Rain and Friday

Rain and Friday

Rain is now a Therapy Dog registered with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs in Cheyenne, WY. She fits the bill of a great therapy animal because of her calm, kind, and patient temperament. She loves people, especially children, and long term care residents.

Tracy and Rain visit the Sheridan County Library for the “Reading with Rain” program, the Plentywood School for various reading celebrations, the Sheridan Memorial Nursing Home, and La Casa Personal Care. Rain seems to know who may need therapy and gravitates to anyone having a particularly tough day.

Rain Reading at the Library

Rain Reading at the Library

By adopting Rain, the Llewellyn Setter, Tracy has been involved in saving a dog. Today, she and Rain can be seen improving lives of school children, visitors to the Sheridan County Library, and area care facilities for the elderly. Tracy’s decision to adopt Rain started as a single act of kindness that now has given many in her community of Plentywood comfort at times when people need it most.

Rain at a School Visit

Rain at a School Visit

You can learn more about Wolf Point Pound Puppies here or visit your local animal shelter to adopt a “furever” pet.

Rain and Salvador

Rain and Salvador

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”―James Herriot

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Doug Kallenberger

The Many Hats of Doug Kallenberger

The Many Hats of Stockman

We can’t have a “Many Hats” blog without bringing a cowboy hat into the mix, and Doug Kallenberger, Vice President, Ag Loan Officer in Havre, is just the guy to wear it! His ranching background, love for the sport of rodeo and the success he has had makes for a true Montana story!

Doug, who is a native of Havre, came to MSU-Northern’s Rodeo team after a very successful high school rodeo career, where he was a two-time Montana High School Rodeo Association Champion Saddle Bronc Rider and qualified for Nationals twice. While competing for Northern, he qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo in 2001 and 2003 and was the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Big Sky Region Saddle Bronc Champion. He’s been a two-time Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals qualifier and a four-time Northern Rodeo Association Finals qualifier. Not only does he ride broncs, but team ropes as well. In 2013, he won a Wrangler Team Roping National Championship.

Doug Kallenberger - Award

Doug and his wife Emily coach the MSU Northern Lights and Sky Lights Rodeo Teams, and stay busy with their two children who are also involved in rodeo. You can tell this is a family affair.

Doug and Emily Kallenberger


How did you first become involved in rodeo?

My first rodeo: I was 4 years old and riding sheep. I fell in love the first time and have been hooked ever since. I went to college on a rodeo scholarship and that is when I really found my deep love for rodeo. While in college, rodeo did everything for me. That is where I met my wife, Emily, and rodeo paid for my schooling through scholarships.

When did you become MSU Northern’s Rodeo Coach and why?

Before I took the rodeo coaching job, I spoke with my Branch Manager at Stockman Bank and he was more than supportive. Stockman Bank is nothing short of amazing in their support of the local community. I became the Rodeo coach in July of 2012; this year marks the start of my 8th season as Head Coach. My wife Emily and I were both on the team at MSU-Northern during our college years, and when the job opened we thought why not? MSU-Northern has a special place in our hearts as we are both alumni. We wanted to give back to the school that gave us such a great education. We were lucky enough that MSU-Northern wanted to take a chance on us.

What have been the most memorable moments of coaching rodeo?

I would have to say the best part is helping kids through school and then seeing them a few years later as adults. Having them be grateful and tell us “thank you for everything you did for me” is the most rewarding part.  As far as a single moment, I would say it would be a tie between the men’s team championship that we won in 2013 at Miles City, and the women’s team championship we won in 2017 at the Cody rodeo. Both of those were special as the last time a team from MSU-Northern had won a Team Championship was in 1973.

What is your coaching philosophy as it relates to college students and your expectations?

My philosophy has changed over the years. I feel the number one thing is to enjoy your time here at college since it goes by fast, remember you are here getting an education, and you get to do your favorite sport while doing that. I also tell my athletes to smile J. Finally, and most importantly, remember that “Champions are made in the Practice Pen!”

Doug Kallenberger - Rodeo Team Fundraiser


How do you balance rodeo, Ag Lending and family time?

That is the best part of the job! My wife Emily is the Assistant Coach. She loves rodeo as much or more than I do. We have two younger children and they are on the back of a horse five days a week, at least. They are able to be with us at every practice and rodeo. That is the best part about rodeo – the whole family can be involved!

We tip our hat to Doug and the Stockman Bank people who wear many hats to make our communities better places to live, work, and play!

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Casey Moen

The Many Hats of Casey Moen

The Many Hats of Stockman

By Janine Merrill, Marketing Officer

I’m not going to lie, our “Many Hats” blog series has been fun to write! Learning about the many varied talents and passions that our employees have outside of the banking realm is eye opening. And this one is no exception. The only thing is, perhaps it should be changed to “Many Caps” – Golf Caps that is!

Casey Moen

Casey Moen, a Real Estate Loan Officer for our downtown location in Great Falls, is originally from Missoula. Casey caught the golfing bug growing up around the many junior golf programs that Missoula offers. Playing nearly every sport that was available for a kid, he began to mainly focus on golf. At 14, he started working at the King Ranch Golf Course in Frenchtown where he was a jack of all trades – hitting balls, picking them, mowing the course and grounds as well as working in the pro shop.

His love of the game led him to a career in golf, and took him to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He enrolled in their PGA Golf Management Program and had the opportunity to travel across the country to many amazing golf facilities while learning the ins and outs of what makes the PGA tick.

Casey Moen

When did you become a PGA Professional and where and what tournaments have you played?

I received my class A PGA certification in August of 2012. For any PGA Professional, the passion for golf starts with your love for the game and the competition. Many of my successes came through my high school and college years competing in any junior golf event in Montana that I could find. During my time at New Mexico State, I was very fortunate to have a well rounded tournament schedule and abundant sunshine all year to sharpen my game. I won medalist honors at 6 events while at New Mexico State. I also competed in the 2011 Jones Cup in Port St. Lucie, FL which is made up of top players from each PGA Golf Management University.

My greatest experience came in 2019; however I didn’t swing the club one time. I was fortunate to have a very good friend, Matt Lohmeyer, punch his ticket to the 2019 PGA Professional National Championship. I caddied for Matt all four rounds, racking up 80 miles on foot and enjoying a top 40 finish out of 317 competitors. An experience I won’t forget.

Casey Moen

What is your affiliation with the PGA in Montana?

Outside of Stockman Bank, I am heavily involved with the Western Montana PGA as their Tournament Director. In this role, I facilitate and administer 20+ weekly Pro Am’s and Chapter Championship events throughout the golf season. In addition, I maintain and grow WMCPGA sponsorships and partnership as well as head up our charitable arms efforts. This position allows me to be active in the golf community in Western Montana, grow relationships with my fellow PGA Professionals in the region, and most importantly, feed the itch for the golf bug that will gladly never go away!

Casey Moen and his Father-in-law

What brought you back to Montana?

After leaving Montana and experiencing a greater part of the United States, I always knew I would someday make it back to Montana. My wife Natalie, originally from Great Falls, and I had a long term goal of getting closer to family and growing together in the place we know best.

On vacation over the winter in 2018, we had a great conversation regarding our future plans, and where we wanted to settle long term. Clearly, destination Montana started right then. We immediately began planning our move, and it wasn’t 40 days later we were settled in Great Falls. If you’re lucky enough to live in Montana…you’re lucky enough right?

Why a career as a Real Estate Loan Officer?

With a limited number of career golf opportunities, particularly in Montana, I wanted to be open to other careers. I’ve had a number of friends and colleagues transition from golf to roles in the finance industry, particularly Real Estate Lending. I was able to connect with these individuals and look for guidance when making this transition. I was lucky enough not only to find a role that would suit my strengths but find a reputable institution like Stockman Bank!

How do you balance golf, lending and family time?

I am fortunate to be a part of a strong golf family. My wife grew up playing the game and played collegiately as a Lady Griz in Missoula and my father-in-law has been a PGA Professional for nearly 35 years. Although the days can get long juggling multiple tasks and duties, it’s hardly work when you do what you enjoy. From getting families into their first home, organizing next week’s Pro Am, or playing a late 9 holes with my closest friends and family, each day is truly a blessing. And to do all of this under the Big Sky makes it all the more special.

We tip our hat (cap!) to Casey and the Stockman Bank people who wear many hats to make our communities better places to live, work, and play!


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Many Hats: Kerry Neils

The Many Hats of Kerry Neils

The Many Hats of Stockman

Kerry Neils

Kerry Neils, VP Senior Portfolio Manager Stockman Wealth Management

Meet Kerry Neils. You may know Kerry from our annual Stockman Calendar. His stunning Montana photos always appear at least a few times within its pages! It may surprise you to know that Kerry is actually a Vice President, Portfolio Manager for our Wealth Management team in Helena. In conversation with Kerry we learned that whether he is analyzing market prices or showing us Montana through his camera lens, his creativity knows no limits.

Q: How long have you been taking pictures?

I have been taking pictures since I was in middle school. My love for bird hunting and being outdoors coupled well with wildlife photography. By 20, I was busy with work and other aspects of my life so I stopped taking photos. 35 years later my wife, Laurie, bought me a digital camera and I fell in love with photography all over again!

Q: How long have you been a Wealth advisor?

It doesn’t seem possible, but I have been working professionally in the investment world for 32 years! I don’t know where the time went.

Q: What you do professionally is a very left-brained career but taking photos is very right-brained.  Is there any overlap between these two passions?

Kerry NeilsI guess the common denominator is that I started both photography and investment analysis, in an amateurish way, when I was still a child.  My dad had subscribed to Barron’s Magazine for many years and he kept all the old issues.  Barron’s published tables of each week’s high, low, close and volume for most US stocks.  With graph paper, pencil and ruler I would plot the high, low, close and volume for every week over the past four or five year’s worth of data. I kept all the charts up to date with each new week’s data as it became available.

In addition, I believe that a bit of deliberate analysis of a scene or a landscape, or of the ambient light, makes a better photograph than just “winging it”.  So both investment management and photography involve art as well as science.

Q: What is your most memorable photo excursion and why?

That’s a tough one! There have been many great trips to Glacier National Park, the Rocky Mountain Front, Jewel Basin, Flathead Valley, the Cabinet Mountains, and so many others. It’s a long list with great memories.

Kerry Neils - Various Photos

Lost Lake

I’d rather talk about an exceptional, little-known area of Montana that I have visited many times. Grab a map and draw a triangle from Great Falls to Fort Benton to Lewistown and back to Great Falls. Contained within that triangle are a multitude of geological features on the landscape that are entirely unique.  Lost Lake, for instance, is a basin carved into the earth when an ice dam broke. Today, it has left a remnant horseshoe shaped “dry falls” of Shonkinite rock that stands higher and broader than Niagara Falls.

Kerry Neils - Lost Lake

Square Butte

Another place that comes to mind is Square Butte, which is north of Stanford. It is made from hard, igneous rock that formed when magma forced its way upward through the existing bedrock. The dark Shonkinite on its flanks makes it look like something out of a Tolkien novel.

Kerry Neils - Square Butte

Arrow Creek Breaks

One of my favorite places is the Arrow Creek Breaks. Arrow Creek currently flows in an old river channel 500 feet deep in some places, and is as much as two miles wide from rim to rim. Today, just a very small stream, it meanders along the bottom of this old ice-age river channel. You can also find huge, perfectly round spheres of hard, dark sandstone coming to light as the softer, lighter colored sandstone erodes away. They are called “concretions” and can be found all over the world ranging from pea to grape size. In Arrow Creek, however, the sandstones tend to be around eight feet in diameter! Ancient fossils of trilobite and ammonites have also been found in the sandstones of central Montana.

Kerry Neils - Arrow Creek

There you have it. Kerry Neils, portfolio manager on weekdays and photographer over the weekend. He truly wears many hats! Be sure to stop by any of our branches at the end of the year to pick up our 2020 calendar. I’m sure you will see a photo or two taken by Kerry.

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