Montana State University

Four projects awarded seed grant funding by MSU's Outreach and Engagement Council; new round of funding announced

March 1, 2016 -- MSU News Service

Subscribe to MSU Newsletters

Bobcat Bulletin is a weekly e-newsletter designed to bring the most recent and relevant news about Montana State University directly to friends and neighbors via email. Visit Bobcat Bulletin.

MSU Today e-mail brings you news and events on campus thrice weekly during the academic year. Visit the MSU Today calendar.

MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571

Dinosaurs, digital storytelling, cultural collaboration and social services support make up the four projects that recently received seed funding from a Montana State University organization that promotes outreach and engagement between MSU and the community.

Last fall, MSU’s Outreach and Engagement Council announced a new seed grant program designed to bring MSU faculty, staff and students together with local and regional community partners to address the needs of Montana’s communities.

Numerous grant proposals were submitted, with projects spanning disciplines and community partnerships across the state.

Kim Obbink, chair of the Outreach and Engagement Council, said council members were pleased with the amount of interest in the seed grants and with the diversity and quality of proposals submitted during the first round.

“The Outreach and Engagement seed grants are designed to launch new programs, participants, and partnerships into the world of MSU engagement, as well as elevate existing efforts to the next level,” Obbink said. “It was gratifying to see such a great response to our first request for proposals and the council members were extremely impressed with the quality of the submissions.”

The council chose to award $5,000 to four projects that embraced the spirit of engagement and integration and will help to advance MSU’s land-grant mission.

The seed-grant awardees and their projects are:

Christine Stanton, an assistant professor in the Department of Education in the College of Education, Health and Human Development, and Lucia Ricciardelli, an assistant professor in the School of Film and Photography in the College of Arts and Architecture, are collaborating with Blackfeet Community College on a project to collect digital stories from the Blackfeet tribal community. Through the “Piikani Digital Storywork project, students and faculty at BCC and Blackfeet Academy will learn filmmaking techniques from MSU students and faculty, who, in turn, are engaged in culturally responsive, community-centered filmmaking and education. The project concludes in the fall with a “Day of the Piikani” showcase.

Christa Merzdorf, an assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience in the College of Letters and Science, is collaborating with Montana’s Aaniih Nakoda College in Harlem and Chief Dull Knife College in Lame Deer to bring together tribal college students and MSU students as student-teachers for an intensive research practices course for undergraduates. The one-week research course was taught by MSU faculty last summer; the expansion will allow tribal college and MSU students who are actively participating in research to share their skills with fellow students while learning about each other’s cultures.

Kalli Decker, an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Development in the College of Education, Health and Human Development, will collaborate with Montana’s Department of Health and Human Services to study the effectiveness of support services for families of children with disabilities. Current state programs offer support services to families, enforcing the importance of early intervention for children with disabilities. However, resources are not available to provide in-depth feedback from the families as to how well the services are working. MSU students will be trained to conduct interviews with families in rural communities in order to provide critical data to early childhood professionals.

Angela Weikert, education and public programs director at MSU’s Museum of the Rockies, will partner with the Carter County Museum and a Carter County High School mathematics teacher to develop a collaborative education program called the “Mobile MAIA Science Lab.” Students in rural communities will connect with Montana’s agricultural economy and rich fossil history by measuring the bones of cattle, chicken and the dinosaur called Maiaisaura in order to better understand the mathematical and biological concepts of growth curves.

With the four awarded projects in progress, the council is now inviting proposals for a new round of grant funding, Obbink said.

“We truly look forward to receiving the next round of proposals to build new partnerships with communities around the state,” she said.

MSU students, faculty and staff members are invited to apply for a maximum award of $5,000, with approximately $20,000 available for this round of funding. The proposal team must include an MSU faculty or staff member and a community partner.

Successful proposals may:
• Identify and develop reciprocal relationships with external constituents
• Aim to improve quality of life and benefit the public good
• Test innovative solutions and applications for specified measurable outcomes
• Influence professional practice
• Apply proven strategies or unique solutions to a well-defined problem
• Establish a new engagement activity or expand an existing program to an advanced level

The 2016-17 request for proposals can be accessed on the Outreach and Engagement Council’s website. Proposals are due by 5 p.m., April 1, with awards announced during the last week of April. Funds will be made available to awardees in July.

For more information about the seed grant program and to access the request for proposal form, go to

Kim Obbink, or (406) 994-6550