Speaking at the Bioneers Conference in Anchorage, Alaska. October 2011.|
Author, Builder, Educator, and Conservationist
- Founder and Director of Green University® LLC, established in 2004. Mentors young adults in wilderness survival skills and sustainable living.
- Founder and Director of Outdoor Wilderness Living School (OWLS), originally established in 1991 as Hollowtop Outdoor Primitive School, LLC. Brings school groups into immersive wilderness survival skills experiences to help reconnect kids with nature.
- Founded HOPS Press, LLC, established in 1992. Publishes numerous books and videos on wilderness survival, nature, and sustainable living.
- Founder and president of the Jefferson River Canoe Trail. Promoting conservation and recreation along the Jefferson River in southwest Montana since 2002.
- Former board member of Primitive Found. Provides grant funds to individuals for projects to practice, preserve, promote, and teach primitive and ancestral skills and technology.
- Former chairman of the Concerned Citizens of Pony. Convinced the state of Montana to spend $250,000 on reclamation work to clean up the Pony Mill Site.
Speaking, Presenting, and Teaching
- Interviewed by Ricardo Sierra about reconnecting with nature for The Wolverine Way, January 2014.
- Interviewed online by Nebraska Future Problem Solvers (50 school kids) on the topic of desertification and climate change, November 2013.
Taught at the Montana Education Association (MEA) annual conference, October 2013 and the Montana Environmental Education Association (MEEA) annual conference, March 2013.
- Interviewed about reconnecting with nature for the Back to the Wild Summit, September 2013.
- Gave the keynote presentation, The New Era of Self Sufficiency at the Bioneers Alaska conference, October 2011.
- Provided an Energy Audit and Sustainable Building: Theory and Practice presentation at Alaska Pacific University, October 2011.
- Gave Integrated Design and Construction presentation at the Sustainable Building & Living Conference in Kimberley, British Columbia, January 2010.
- Taught wilderness survival and botany at Rabbitstick Rendezvous almost every year since its inception in 1988, as well as intermittently at Winter Count, Saskatoon Circle, and Buckeye.
Written and Published Seven Books
- Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat
- Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills
- Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
- Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids Ages 9 to 99
- Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
- Direct Pointing to Real Wealth: Thomas J. Elpel's Field Guide to Money
- Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, and the Blossoming of Human Spirit
Hosted and Produced Seven Videos
- Classroom in the Woods: Primitive Skills for Public Schools
- Art of Nothing Wilderness Survival Video Series: 3 Days at the River
- Art of Nothing Wilderness Survival Video Series: Mountain Meadows
- Art of Nothing Wilderness Survival Video Series: Mountain Lakes
- Art of Nothing Wilderness Survival Video Series: Canoe Camping
- Slipform Stone Masonry
- Build Your Own Masonry Fireplace
Architecture and Construction
- Built 10' x 10' split-face block castle guest house with dome roof and turrets of mostly recycled materials. Pony, Montana. 2012.
- Built 2,300 square foot passive solar stone house with mostly recycled materials. Silver Star, Montana. 2005 - 2009.
- Built 1,000 square foot, energy efficient stone home. Three Forks, Montana. 1995.
- Built 2,300 square foot, passive solar stone and log home from local and recycled materials. Pony, Montana. 1989 - 1998.
- Assisted with numerous other stone masonry, log, and strawbale construction projects.
- Built dozens of primitive shelters, including pit shelters, grass huts, wickiups, and a 23 foot diameter Mandan-style earthlodge.
- Hiked, camped, and canoed thousands of miles over several western states.
- Participated in a month-long Stone Age Immersion in 2009.
- Walked 500 miles across Montana in 1988.
- Participated in a 250-mile, twenty-six day walkabout with Boulder Outdoor Survival School in 1984.
See also Tom's Biography:
Grandma Josie and Me
I just wanted to thank you for your book Botany in a Day. I read it in high school and it is the reason I became so fascinated by botany. Now I'm pursuing a PhD in botany and plant ecology and I think this is in large part due to the inspiration I gained from your book.
Syracuse, New York