SuzAnne Miller, a fourth-generation Montanan, grew up roaming the mountains and fishing the streams of western Montana with her family – a family who was so in love with their home state, that they all would get out of the car and kiss the ground of Montana every time they returned home from an out-of-state trip – see Coming Home to Montana.
As a youngster, SuzAnne clearly didn’t fit the mold. She was the first girl in Butte to have her own paper route. She refused to learn how to type because she feared that would doom her to working in an office the rest of her life; and her father went before the school board so she could take classes in mechanical drawing instead of home economics. Fresh out of high school, SuzAnne became one of the first women to “man” a Forest Service fire lookout by herself.
She met the love of her life, Sterling Miller, at the University of Montana while she was studying forestry and he was studying wildlife biology. After marrying, they joined the Peace Corps and spent three years in Chile.
They returned to the US for graduate school at the University of Washington, where SuzAnne majored in biomathematics. They then migrated north to Alaska, where they spent more than 24 years in professional posts with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game – Sterling as a research biologist specializing in bear research and SuzAnne as a biometrician involved in research on nearly every species of fish, bird, or mammal in Alaska. SuzAnne’s experience included countless field trips, where she fine-tuned her outdoor skills under extreme conditions – including going toe-to-toe with a 1,000-pound sea lion in the Gulf of Alaska.
The Millers’ time in Alaska brought fulfilling careers, fantastic adventures across the entire state, and two wonderful sons: Jake (born in 1987) and Mark (born in 1992).
Yet for all the beauty and grandeur of Alaska, Montana retained a strong hold on their hearts – in part because of SuzAnne’s love of horses and her desire to return to “horse country.” They bought Dunrovin in 1997 and have since turned the property into a quality Tennessee Walking Horse ranch.
When not introducing Montana to guests, SuzAnne continues to consult with government and private agencies on the human dimensions of managing natural resources. One of her consulting projects, The Montana Challenge, established the link between the health of Montana’s natural landscape – its land, water, and wildlife – and Montana’s socioeconomic landscape. She has been across the state meeting with public groups to discuss the economic importance of maintaining Montana’s environmental quality. SuzAnne served as the vice president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Association of Montana, has been a member of the Missoula Backcountry Horsemen, and has served on the board of the Montana Natural History Center.
Sterling is a world expert on grizzly bear ecology and population dynamics and past president of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. He recently retired as the Senior Scientist for the Northern Rockies Office of the National Wildlife Federation. He remains an associate professor for the University of Montana and the University of Alaska.
While Sterling’s interest in the outdoor center around rivers and canoes, he embraces SuzAnne’s love of animals, especially dog and horses. He has proven to be a Sterling Horse Husband!
SuzAnne’s and Sterling’s two sons are great students with broad interests. Jake graduated with a law degree from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, in 2015 and is currently getting an additional degree in computer science with an eye towards becoming a patent attorney. Mark graduated from Montana State University with a degree in computer science and mathematics and is now employed by an international software development firm with offices in Montana. Both boys are carrying on the family tradition of outdoor activities: Jake recently biked over 300 miles from Spokane to Seattle; and Mark and his college buddies are hooked on fishing and canoeing. Mark is the proud owner of two dogs that he adopted from the Bozeman animal shelter.
The entire family shares a deep appreciation for travel, the arts, and sports. The boys were active in the Missoula Children’s Theater and family trips have taken them to New York City, Las Vegas, Montreal, Europe, and Australia to enjoy theater productions, festivals, hiking, boating, swimming, scuba diving, and touring. Jake is an accomplished competitive swimmer while Mark has a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo. Both boys spent part of the summer of 2010 in Europe – Jake studied in Russia and Mark toured central Europe with his British cousin.
Most important to SuzAnne and Sterling: Dunrovin Ranch and the opportunity to help you explore connections with the natural world, animals, and people from across the globe. Their long careers in natural resource management and their world travels have taught them just what a privilege it is to live and work in Montana – the last best place!