During the 2022 Montana Range Days in Shelby, MT Noel Keogh, a rancher from Nye, MT was honored as the 2022 inductee for the Montana Range Days Hall of Fame.
Noel gave more than two decades of his time to Montana Range Days (MRD) – first as a member of a local range committee in Columbus that had range days for two consecutive years, beginning in 1997 and then served for 21 years on the MRD State Board of Directors.
Noel became familiar to many instructors, teachers, young students and local range days committee members over this time. He was involved in many duties at each Range Days event, including site selection for the workshop and contest sites, making sure that each workshop station had the materials that were needed, instructing station leaders and students, workshop and contest rotations, making sure workshop instructors had completed answer sheets for the contest and any other duties that needed immediate attention.
Not only the number of activities he was involved in during a given MRD event, but his genial attitude was most appreciated by all who worked with him. Noel always wanted to make sure that the sites selected for the workshop and the contest met the needs of the instructors. Without exception he would be the first person to arrive at the workshop session in the morning to make sure things were in order.
Many years he would come the weekend prior to the start of Range Days to begin the work of installing signs for the event location as well as the workshop/contest site, setting up locations for the workshop and contest sites, a plant ID site and setting up the tents needed for the younger students and the lunch site. Noel always had a smile for everyone, and although he appeared pretty laid back, he was always in MRD mode, thinking ahead, making sure everyone stayed on track to meet the goal of a successful year. Whenever you saw Noel at the beginning of a Range Days event, you knew everything would fall into place for a successful Range Days.
Noel has also been in outstanding leader in his community, for Stillwater County, agriculture and the state of Montana over the years. Below are just a few of the organizations he has served in and in many cases continues to serve:
- Nye Volunteer Fire Department – 1977 to Present
- Stillwater County Weed Board – 1981 to 2015
- Absarokee High School Board – four terms
- Stillwater Protective Association 1977 to Present
- Northern Plains Resource Council Board of Directors – one term, helped negotiate the “Good Neighbor Agreement” with the Stillwater Mining Company
- Beartooth Stock Association – 3 terms as Director, Past President and Vice President, also chairman of “Corralling Change” committee
- Rangeland Resource Executive Committee Range Leader of the Year Award – 2007. Appointed to serve on the RREC board by Governor Schweitzer
- Stillwater Valley Watershed Council – initial board member, 2006 to present
- Nye Community Foundation
- Nye Community Church
Noel and his wife Penny raised two wonderful girls, Cassie and Kaitlin. Kaitlin is current on the State Steering Committee for Montana Range Days. Both daughters competed successfully at MRD over the years in a variety of age groups.
Noel has also been a hunting guide for the last 39 years and has led pack trips into the Montana wilderness near his ranch.
Noel is always trying to improve rangeland health and productivity on his ranch for the benefit of the ranch, the rangeland resource and the wildlife.
Noel is so deserving of this award for his commitment and the hard work he has put into so many successful Montana Range Days events!
Jon Siddoway – MRD Steering Committee
Photo Credit: Bud Chenault Photography