Founded by Sarah Calhoun, Red Ants Pants is a company dedicated to making workwear for women.
Having grown up on a farm and completed years of work leading trail crews and instructing for Outward Bound, she became fed up with the lack of workwear for women. So she moved to Montana and started a business making work pants for women in 2006. Red Ants Pants is headquartered in White Sulphur Springs, Montana, and all products are Made in the USA.
To show support for the hard-working side of Montana and beyond, the Red Ants Pants Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3), was born in 2011. The Foundation supports women’s leadership, working family farms and ranches, and rural communities, the three things most important to Calhoun, the company, and the Red Ants Pants Community.
Amy spent her youth on a farm in the rolling hills of Wisconsin's dairyland. At a young age, Amy's family instilled in her a love for the outdoors. After college, she served in Americorps for several years, with a focus on conservation of public lands, in Colorado, Maine, and Alaska.
In 2015, Amy arrived in Helena, MT and through her work with the Montana Conservation Corps she gained valuable experience in personnel, program, and operational management. She went on to expand her skills in human resources through public service for the State of Montana.
Amy has contributed to the Red Ants Pants Foundation as both a Timber Skills Instructor and a Girls Leadership Program Mentor. She passionately believes in the power of community and is thrilled to be part of the work of the Red Ants Pants Foundation.
Heather serves as steward of a beautiful piece of prairie along Big Coulee Creek in Lavina. She and her husband Bart raise cattle and sell grassfed beef direct-to-consumer in the Billings to Bozeman area. She has also worked as an outdoor educator for close to 20 years, and enjoys sharing nature and the joy of exploration with students of all ages.
Heather became involved as a Board member with the Red Ants Pants Foundation because she deeply values her rural community, and understands the pivotal role that small businesses play in keeping communities alive across Montana. She is now thrilled to join the Red Ants Pants Foundation team as program coordinator and to become more integrally involved in strengthening women's leadership and resilience in rural communities.
Board of Directors
In 2005, when Sam needed a roommate, she was lucky enough to fill the spot with a new gal who had just moved to town wanting to start a pants company for women. And better yet, Sarah needed a fit model for the straight pants and Sam is a square as they come!
Since day one, Sam has been inspired by the vision of the Red Ants Pants Foundation and delighted to be a member of the team. She believes deeply in the connection between food, agriculture, economic vitality, and community. She holds a B.S. from University of Montana in Resource Conservation, and a M.S. from Montana State University in Sustainable Food Systems, and is a Registered Dietitian. Sam is currently the Director of the Food and Agriculture Development Center at Prospera Business Network in Bozeman, Montana.
Chelsea Cole Thomas
Chelsea Cole Thomas grew up on her family’s potato farm in Manhattan, Montana. While playing Class C sports, she had the opportunity to experience what her mom fondly called “the small towns of Montana tour.” That experience served her well when she worked in the U.S. Senate and was responsible for introducing international ambassadors and diplomats to the state of Montana and its people. It was because of one such ambassadors’ tour that Chelsea had the opportunity to meet Sarah Calhoun and learn about her passion for outfitting makers and doers with the clothes (through Red Ants Pants) and the means (through the Red Ants Pants Foundation) to make their dreams come alive. Following that first meeting, Chelsea has made the trek on Hwy 89 several times to visit Sarah and work at and attend the Red Ants Pants Music Festival.
Chelsea lives in Washington, DC, working as the Executive Director of the App Association, helping small businesses make sense of state, federal, and international tech legislation. Along with her husband and daughter, she gets home to Montana as often as possible, including for at least one month in the summer. Serving on the Red Ants Pants Foundation board is an opportunity for Chelsea to offer her professional experience in honor of her rural roots.
Sarah Fitzgerald is a Partner and Chief Operations Officer at NorthFork Financial, an independent financial planning and investment advisory firm, specializing in socially responsible investing. Prior to joining NorthFork, Sarah spent over 10 years working in impact finance, providing small business loans to entrepreneurs, structuring large real estate deals, utilizing New Markets Tax Credits, and designing and deploying a custom impact fund, focused on food security, low income housing, indigenous communities and BIPOC entrepreneurs. Sarah is originally from Helena and is grateful for her Montana roots. Beginning in college, she spent summers working in Glacier National Park and went on to spend nearly a decade working seasonally in remote, wild places in Montana, Utah, Arizona and Alaska. Sarah holds undergraduate degrees in Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development and a Masters in Business Administration.
In her free time, Sarah loves hiking, floating, skiing, traveling and attending the Red Ants Pants Music Festival!
Chris grew up in Sheridan, Wyoming and then married and moved to Montana where she and her husband Barry owned and operated a ranch for 14 years. Chris worked at the bank in White Sulphur Springs for 32 years and was serving as the bank’s Chief Loan Officer and Senior Vice President when she retired. She and her husband are the owners of 2 Basset Brewery in White Sulphur Springs, Montana.
Chris recalls that while learning the banking side and living the owner’s side of agriculture in a rural community, she was made profoundly aware of the hardships faced by agriculture and other small businesses. But more importantly, she saw the grit, dreams and determination of those who were willing to take the risk.
The work of the Red Ants Pants Foundation highlights and supports those very people and Chris is honored to serve as a Director.
As a fifth-generation Montanan and outdoor enthusiast, Mary has long been connected to the lands and waters of Big Sky Country. She holds University of Montana degrees in business finance and economics. She began her career in the U.S. Senate and later returned to Montana, where she worked for Paul Roos Outfitters. She ran a fishing lodge in the Blackfoot Valley and found great inspiration to further conservation efforts in Montana. Mary joined The Nature Conservancy during their acquisitions of Plum Creek Timber land in western Montana and for nearly 10 years she managed land deals and served as the Government Affairs Director for TNC in Montana. Mary joined Prickly Pear Land Trust in 2015 as Executive Director. Connecting people with conservation values and the outdoors way of life aligns with Mary's values and the mission of Prickly Pear Land Trust. Mary fills her soul with music as often as possible and looks for ways to share that too, with her family. They spend as much time as possible with their two bird dogs in the outdoors of Montana!
Maida Knapton grew up in Ennis Montana, and was a graduate in the first cohort of the Red Ants Pants Girls Leadership Program in 2018. She draws inspiration, pride, and grit from her hometown and feels a strong sense of leadership and self-resilience fostered by the knowledge of the incredible women involved in the Red Ants Pants.
Currently, she attends Montana State University studying Geospatial and Environmental Analysis with a plan to work in the natural resource management world. She has an interest in Western and Arctic landscapes, and folks' connections to them. She has dedicated her time to several efforts such as working with the Madison Valley Ranchlands group supporting landowners in managing Madison County landscapes, volunteering for the Jack Creek Preserve Foundation with education and land management projects, and has spent a year in the Arctic region of Norway studying norsk outdoor culture and philosophy along with completing multi-week winter expeditions.
Maida is particularly passionate about the Girls Leadership and Grant Programs managed by the Red Ants Pants Foundation. She looks forward to learning and contributing her perspectives to the work of the Foundation!
Courtney Lowery Cowgill
Courtney Lowery Cowgill is a writer, teacher, entrepreneur and recovering farmer. After a decade working as a reporter and editor, including co-founding the award-winning, now shuttered online magazine New West, Courtney and her husband Jacob moved home to central Montana to start a farm and a family in 2008. After 10 years of raising vegetables, grains and various livestock -- including turkeys -- the Cowgills transitioned their farm enterprises and efforts to a farm-to-loaf sourdough bakery, Blue Truck Bread. Courtney now helps with the bakery (just not the baking) and the growing of things while writing and teaching journalism at the University of Montana School of Journalism, through which she also runs the UM Legislative News Service. Courtney lives on her first-generation farm (as a fourth-generation farmer) in Teton County where she and her husband still raise heritage and ancient grains, kids and sometimes a little ruckus (just kidding, they’re actually quite mild-mannered).
Kaleena moved to Butte, America in 2011 for an AmeriCorps position. She quickly fell in love with Butte and Montana, which resulted in her dedicated search for a means to stay permanently. Currently, Kaleena works for Montana State University as an extension agent, serving Madison and Jefferson Counties. She provides education on agriculture, natural resources, and horticulture, working to address the diverse and evolving needs of residents in both counties.
Kaleena is passionate about leadership development and serving rural communities in Montana. Having served as a Red Ants Pants Girls Leadership Program Mentor from 2020 to 2023, she is excited to continue supporting our organization by joining the Foundation Board.
Kaleena holds a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Economics and Management from the University of Rhode Island and a Master's Degree in Environmental Policy from Bard College. Kaleena lives with her husband, Dave, in Butte. In her free time, you can find her doing something active such as hiking, skiing, or playing volleyball. She also enjoys the challenge of gardening in Butte's short growing season.