Patagonia Founder Returns to College of Idaho


I have an old blue Pata-gucci pullover that I take almost everywhere I go. I wore it hunting last weekend. I wear it skiing, biking. I would wear it on a sailboat if that was ever in the cards. I have never been cold, though some would attest to a heavy dose of b.o. emanating from the thing at times.

My wife got it at a "puppy dog" sale at the company's Reno plant. It has a tattered collar, but the zipper still works. I have often thought: Whomever built this damn thing deserves an honorary degree or something.

Well, Patagonia co-founder Kristine M. Tompkins is on her way to Caldwell next week to get such an honor, from her alma mater, the College of Idaho. The 1972 C of I (nee Albertson College) graduate, went on to start Patagonia, Inc., which she ran until 1993.

Tompkins and her husband, Doug, who founded North Face and Esprit, live in southern Chile, where they are working to preserve the Patagonia region of Argentina and Chile.

According to the College of Idaho: Conservacion Patagonica has placed over 460,000 acres of critical Patagonian habitat into permanent protection. The organization has helped create one national park in Argentina and is in the process of establishing another— Patagonia National Park—in Chile’s Chacabuco Valley. Plans are for this park to grow to more than 650,000 acres and to encompass the many varieties of ecosystem found in the Patagonia region: grasslands, Andean foothills, parts of the Andes themselves, wetlands, southern beech forests, and arid and semi-arid Patagonian steppe.

Kristine M. Tompkins
  • Kristine M. Tompkins

You can read more about Tompkins' conservation work at Conservacion Patagonica.

Tomkins will be in Caldwell on Monday to receive her honorary degree. The event is at 7:30 p.m. in Jewett Auditorium. The event is part of the inauguration of the college's 12th president, Dr. Marvin Henberg, who will be installed at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1.