Shelby, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m 25. I grew up on a small ranch outside of Dillon. My father worked at a ranch supply store and raised Blank Angus cattle. I have a profound respect for agriculture because of my dad. I have watched him tend to his cattle for years, and it is no doubt a labor of love. During calving season he goes to check the cows every few hours throughout the night and still manages to get up at the crack of dawn the next morning, ready to tackle the day like he had a full nights rest. To me he is a special kind of super hero—the kind that can sustain himself on a thermos full of coffee and the pride of having saved a newborn calf from freezing.
For three years in high school I was an assistant at a local veterinary hospital in Dillon and thought seriously about becoming a veterinarian. I didn’t think I could put up with the long hours that are required of vets who are often on call. I now occasionally reflect on that reasoning and wonder what the hell I was thinking since I now work in a profession that never seems to sleep.
I became involved in politics in high school and am fairly positive I can lay claim to being the youngest member the Beaverhead County Republican Central Committee ever had (I know, I was a weird kid). Former Senator Bill Tash allowed me to carry his proxy vote at the Montana State Republican Platform Convention my Junior year of high school, and that is, more or less, what brought me to where I am now—over 8 years later, working in government affairs and public relations.
After high school I attended Carroll College. A large part of my decision to move to Helena was the fact I had been offered an internship at The Montana Group and a chance to get into politics. Needless to say I took it and haven’t really looked back since.
I worked my first State Senate race in 2010. Chuck Denowh somehow managed to convince Senator Murphy (R-Cardwell) to let a 19 year old who had little to no idea what she was doing run his re-election campaign. Senator Murphy took a chance on me and so did Chuck—and I am very glad they did.
There is something special about working for someone you truly believe can make a difference. And after working on that campaign, I was hooked.
Yes, I realize that sounds incredibly naïve and idealistic, but for the most part it’s true. Yes, there are those that are frustrated with politics and politicians, but I’ve always figured I shouldn’t complain unless I was ready to get up and do something about it.
Needless to say, it’s been a few years since that first campaign, and I am definitely still learning, but I am very thankful to be working where I am and for the clients who trust me with their work. I have had the opportunity work for campaigns, associations, corporations, and non-profits, doing everything from fundraising and lobbying to communications and web design. I wouldn’t trade those experiences, or the people I have met along the way, for the world.
You’ve managed to become quite successful at a young age, which seems to buck the millennial stereotype. What is your motivation and how have you achieved so much?
This is an odd question to think about. I guess that’s probably because I don’t consider myself “successful”—I consider myself a work in progress. There are a good many things I could be much better at.
My motivation? I want to get to the end of my days and feel I’ve accomplished something—and I don’t mean that in the sense most in my generation does. While some of my peers seem to peg their self worth on how many Instagram followers or Facebook likes they have have—which is a sad standard—I want to accomplish things that will make me happy, that will make the people I love happy, and ensure that I don’t look back and wish I would have done X, Y, or Z.
What does your perfect day look like?
A day hiking with my boyfriend and my dogs. No phone. No Internet.
If you could choose anyone to be your mentor, who would you choose?
Hillary Clinton…Ha ha, just kidding.
If forced to choose only one—Margaret Thatcher, hands down. I have great respect for the Iron Lady—she was a strong, conservative woman, who wasn’t about to let anyone tell her what she could and couldn’t do.
What was the last book you read?
I just finished reading Practical Scent Dog Training by Lu Button. I have an 8 month old German Shepherd puppy (the first Shepherd I’ve ever owned) that I would eventually like to train to do Search and Rescue work…I’ve discovered that the first step in learning to be smarter than my dog, which, if you have a Shepherd, you will understand that this is easier said than done.
What are a few of your favorite quotes?
“Dreams don’t work unless you do.”- John C. Maxwell (I’m not a huge fan of Maxwell, but I do like that quote)
“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” –Margaret Thatcher
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
What is one (or two or three) of your favorite books?
We the Living by Ayn Rand
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (A beautifully written book. As per the norm, the movie didn’t do the book a shred of justice.)
If you could have any other job besides the one you have, what would it be?
Although I think my job is pretty awesome, I’d probably choose to go to school to be a veterinarian.
What’s something you do strictly for fun?
Baking. I keep telling myself someday I will start a bakery when I have time and money to burn.
Hiking. My boyfriend and I love to take the dogs out, pack a lunch, and leave for the day.
Typing. I have an old black, metal, Royal typewriter from the early 1900’s. It is quite large and heavy, but is still fully functional and I enjoy occasionally taking time to type out some thoughts.
How would your friends describe you?
My friends have always given me shit about being a 40 year old in a teenager’s body, an old soul, etc. etc. I’m ok with that, or at least some aspects of it. I mean, who wouldn’t have wanted to be around in the in the 1920’s-1950’s—the clothes were more flattering, the music was better, and things were a great deal simpler than they are now. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m as much of a fan of watching people from high school on Facebook as the next person, but sometimes I think as a result of the advancements humanity has made we have become needlessly busier with less time for the things that really matter.
What do you value most in a friendship?
Understanding, reliability, and honesty.
Coffee or tea?
Chocolate or vanilla?
Ha! Who chooses vanilla? Do those people exist?
Introvert or extrovert?
Introvert. I can play the role of an extrovert extremely well when necessary, but if given the option I’ll opt for a night at home over a night on the town every time.
Rural or urban?
Urban is nice to visit, but rural is where it’s at.
Dress up or dress down?
Cats or dogs?
Sunrise or sunset?
Detailed or abstract?
Classic or modern?
Call or text?
If it’s about work—text.
If it’s someone I love—call.
Fiction or non-fiction?
Salty or Sweet?
Trailmix—the best of both worlds.
What do you love most about Montana?
What’s a lesson you are currently learning?
The human body needs more than 4 hours of sleep a night and cannot subsist of tea and trail mix alone.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
Everything? I am still breathing and living, I am healthy, I have an amazing boyfriend, a supportive father, an awesome and talented younger brother, and a small group of friends whom I’d trust with my life. I have a great deal to be thankful for.