Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame Past Winners
2015 Hall of Fame Inductees
Dr. George Frison
Dr. George Frison was Wyoming’s first state archeologist. The Wyoming Legislature created the position in 1967 and Frison, who had recently received his Ph.D from the University of Michigan, returned to his native state to take on the role. For nearly 50 years his deep curiosity in Wyoming’s natural world has guided his research, his writing, which includes 14 books and more than 100 academic articles, and his teaching.
Frison’s memoirs are titled Rancher Archaeologist and his life was a combination of those vocations. Frison was born in Worland in 1924 and grew up on the family ranch near Ten Sleep, which sat near notable excavation sites. As a boy on the ranch he discovered fossils of dinosaurs and mammoths and interacted with the paleontologists, anthropologists and other researchers working in the area.
After high school, Frison went to the University of Wyoming but left to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war he went back to the ranch, but maintained his interest in archaeology. At the age of 40 he finished his bachelor’s degree at UW before heading to Michigan.
In his archaeological work, Frison brought his knowledge of animals to the academic world. In fact he has been adamant that you cannot talk about the prehistoric world and hunting of that era without understanding the behavior of the prey species. His background in hunting and ranching gave him knowledge of the behavior of animals.
Not only did Frison have an impact on archaeology in Wyoming by cultivating students’ interest in the field and by providing large amounts of research about the history of this land, he also contributed to a major shift in how all archaeological research is conducted on hunting societies.
This came about due to Frison’s excavation of the Glenrock Bison Jump and the Wardell Bison Trap near Big Piney. He focused his analysis on more than just the human cultural artifacts at those sites. Frison also examined the animal’s bones, an overlooked and often times discarded artifact by others in the field. His approach was controversial and highly debated but has led to additional learning about prehistoric human hunting.
Frison has had a highly decorated career as an archaeologist, as a researcher and as a teacher at the University of Wyoming, where he spent his entire career. To honor that legacy UW created the George C. Frison Institute, a facility dedicated to studying the archaeology and culture of the High Plains and the Rocky Mountains. He continues to serve as a professor emeritus at the university.
For wildlife enthusiasts, Frison has created an impressive resource in all his writings, but particularly Survival by Hunting. Most of us can be enlightened by reading this work on Wyoming’s prehistoric animals and the people that hunted them.
Frison currently resides in Laramie.
Stephen Nelson Leek is known as the “Father of the Elk.” It is not hyperbole to say he played a significant role in the conservation work that made the current abundance of elk throughout Wyoming and the Rocky Mountains possible. The species’ future was once very much in doubt. Elk were nearly extirpated, in the continental United States the last remaining animals were found in and around the recently established Yellowstone National Park.
Leek was the driving force behind Congress’ creation of the National Elk Refuge north of Jackson. The refuge served as a reservoir for the re-population of elk across the Rocky Mountain West.
Leek, who was born in 1858, in Ontario, Canada, had his conservation ethic ignited by early life experiences. In his youth he recalled flocks of passenger pigeons blocking out the sun. Then he was witness to their disappearance. Leek eventually moved to Nebraska and while there saw firsthand the decimation of the great bison herds.
In the 1880s, he struck out for Wyoming. He first settled in a cabin in the Bighorn Mountains, a cabin now on display in Cody at Old Trail Town. Then Leek made his way, via Yellowstone, to Jackson Hole. He reportedly fell in love with the area, its wildlife and a local woman. Leek married Etta Wilson, whose family is namesake for the town of Wilson.
The Leeks ran a dude ranch and guided hunters and anglers. One of whom was George Eastman, a founder of the emerging photography industry and inventor of Kodak film. Eastman gave Leek a camera, which became a tool in his future conservation efforts.
In the early 1900s, another species seemed to be headed towards extinction before Leek’s eyes. The local elk population suffered as migration corridors were blocked and some of the continent’s most crucial winter range was replaced by houses and businesses. Leek poured time and personal finances into saving the elk. He was elected to the Wyoming Legislature, secured funding to feed the elk, pushed changes to prevent groups from harvesting elk for their teeth and tusks. Leek championed abolishing market hunting and then went east with photos he had taken of starving elk to advocate for the animals in New York and Washington, DC. He again had success. This time getting Congress to create the National Elk Refuge.
Elk from the Refuge were eventually shipped by rail to areas across Wyoming and the West.
Leek’s photos can now be found at the University of Wyoming and at the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum.
Dr. Oliver Scott
Dr. Oliver Scott was one of Wyoming’s foremost amateur ornithologists. He significantly contributed to many of the birding resources in our state and in the West. Dr. Scott’s passion for birds fostered Wyoming’s birdwatching community in many ways.
Born in Massachusetts in 1914, Scott developed a deep interest in ornithology as a young boy. He was fortunate to have as a mentor, Ludlow Griscom, a premier ornithologist and Harvard professor, known as the “Dean of the Bird Watchers.” While Scott pursued bachelor and medical degrees at Harvard he learned from Griscom, who pioneered identifying free-flying birds rather than hunting them for identification.
When Dr. Scott came to Wyoming in 1948, he became the first board-certified pediatrician in the state, he also brought to Wyoming his love of birds and support for their conservation. He conducted the first Audubon Christmas Bird Count in Casper and was co-founder of the Wyoming Audubon Society, which became the Murie Audubon Society.
Dr. Scott traveled widely across Wyoming and North America finding new and rare birds. He identified 727 unique bird species, known in the birding community as a watcher’s “life birds.” But, what really established his legacy was Dr. Scott readily sharing this knowledge of birds and of Wyoming.
Dr. Scott helped others develop their skills at birding. He taught a popular bird identification class at Casper College encouraging people from his community to learn more about birds and to spend time outside. But, he also devoted time and resources into building resources that others use now and will be used into the future. Dr. Scott was the Rocky Mountain Region editor of Audubon Field Notes for more than two decades putting his mark on that publication, he also provided field identification and range descriptions for Wyoming birds in two editions of A Field Guide to Western Birds, and then in 1993, three years before his death, he published what he considered his life’s work: A Birder’s Guide to Wyoming. This book provides detailed maps and descriptions making it easy for those interested to see Wyoming’s bird species on their own. It is a treasure for Wyoming birdwatchers.
Beyond his passion for birdwatching Dr. Scott has left other lasting impacts for Wyoming’s wildlife. Buying ranches in Natrona County, he was an early advocate for showcasing the positive impact ranching can have on wildlife. He then made a permanent commitment to wildlife and open space by placing 8,000 acres in a conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy.
Dr. Oliver Scott’s passion for the outdoors, for birds and all wildlife left a mark on Wyoming, he passed on this ethic to the generations that have come behind.
The often-used description of Wyoming as a small town with long streets rings true to the people here because there are so many personal connections and because of individuals like Jerry Galles. He is a hub for those who care about the future of this “small town” especially in the sphere of people who are passionate about wildlife, the outdoors, hunting and fishing. He binds together those who share these values and interests because those who encounter Galles have been impacted by his character and kindness.
Beyond the way he treats people is also an incredibly deep commitment to Wyoming’s outdoor way of life. In a world where time translates to money, the way someone spends their time shows their life’s priorities. Galles has invested thousands upon thousands of hours into conservation. He has poured himself into efforts supporting all manner of wildlife by giving substantially to groups including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation, the Mule Deer Foundation, Muley Fanatics, the National Wild Turkey Foundation, the Old West Invitational Turkey Shoot, the Natrona County Land Use Committee, the Governor’s Big Game License Coalition, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and in fact the list goes on from there.
Listing all of the groups Galles is a part of is one way to illustrate the breadth of his passions and the depth of his knowledge. But, his involvement has been about more than attending meetings and giving, which he has done generously - it includes all aspects of conservation. As a young child he made the outdoors, hunting and fishing a big part of his life and he has been a lifelong learner, getting involved in wildlife stewardship from the ground up. Galles has developed experience and understanding about habitat, migration, herd dynamics, the importance of hunting and angling, regulations and land use. He also is a keen participant in making wildlife conservation work by seeking allies, fundraising and engaging with the general public. Galles was also a stalwart and enthusiastic volunteer at the annual Hunting and Fishing Heritage Expo in Casper.
Galles’ background and abilities contributed to him playing an instrumental role in several major wildlife management efforts. For instance he helped craft and get passed the policy that led to the gray wolf coming off of the endangered species list, similarly he was a part of Wyoming’s leadership on sage grouse management and grizzly bear recovery.
Throughout his life, and especially as a Game and Fish Commissioner, Galles put a special emphasis on ethical hunting practices. Above all he has made those practices and that philosophy part of his life and has taught it to many others, starting with his daughters who are also passionate about the outdoors.
Galles is a statesman for wildlife. His involvement in conservation has come at all levels and his enthusiasm and care for this heritage fosters action in others. That is imperative for the success, viability and relevance of wildlife management for the future. Volunteerism and philanthropy at Galles’ level has provided stewardship for what is one of the keys to Wyoming’s incredible quality of life: our wildlife and great outdoors.