Montana State University

MSU Outreach and Engagement Council awards four seed grants

June 28, 2016 -- MSU News Service

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BOZEMAN -- A Montana State University organization awarded seed grants to four projects that promote outreach and engagement between the university and the community through community service, cultural outreach and historical preservation.

This is the second round of funding by MSU’s Outreach and Engagement Council since beginning its seed grant program in fall 2015. The program is designed to bring MSU faculty, staff and students together with local and regional partners to address the needs of Montana’s communities.

The council awards grants of up to $5,000 to four projects that embrace the spirit of engagement and integration and will help advance MSU’s land-grant mission.

Kim Obbink, chair of the Outreach and Engagement Council, said the number of proposals increased with this second round of funding.

“The growing interest in the seed grants lets us know we are meeting our mission to support and encourage new partnerships and programs that foster collaboration between MSU and the community,” Obbink said. “Once again, council members were highly impressed by the quality and diversity of the submissions.”

Another call for proposals will occur early in the 2017 spring semester, Obbink said.

The seed grant awardees and their projects are:

The World Language Culture and Exposure Program proposed by Hua Li, associate professor of Chinese and interim director of Asian Studies in the College of Letters and Science, will provide an opportunity for MSU students to teach Mandarin Chinese to students in grades K-5 at Bozeman’s Irving, Hyalite and Whittier elementary schools and expose them to Chinese language and culture.

The program is a partnership between MSU’s Department of Modern Languages and Literature, the Greater Gallatin United Way, Friends of World Language and World Language Enrichment and the three Bozeman elementary schools.

Through the program, elementary school students will gain exposure to Chinese language, culture, art and cooking, regardless of their ability to pay for extracurricular classes, while MSU students will gain in-classroom experience and build strong relationships with community partners.

Organizers also will study whether the program could be a replicable model that could be expanded beyond Bozeman and into other Montana communities.

Li called the seed grant “indispensable to the project,” along with the educators who will participate in the program.

“The coordinators and teachers in the three elementary schools' world language programs -- Elizabeth Williamson, Christina Clark and Karen Filipovich -- play a key role in carrying out the project,” Li said.

Boardroom Bobcats, submitted by Laura Demmel, project manager in the MSU Leadership Institute, is a partnership between the MSU Leadership Institute and several local nonprofit organizations. The aim of the project is to place upper-level undergraduate and graduate MSU students as non-voting members of regional nonprofit boards.

“Boardroom Bobcats offers regional nonprofit boards the chance to utilize the diverse perspectives and skills of MSU students and at the same time gives students an opportunity to experience boardroom service firsthand. It’s a win-win for both parties,” Demmel said.

Seed grant funds will support student recruiting, match-making opportunities with nonprofits, and professional development training on mentoring, governance, marketing, networking and other topics.

The Creating Community Partnerships to Preserve Fort Ellis: A 19th Century Military Outpost, proposed by Crystal Alegria, coordinator of MSU’s Project Archaeology, is a partnership between MSU’s Project Archaeology and the Gallatin History Museum to educate the public about historic Fort Ellis.

Fort Ellis, located east of Bozeman, was a U.S. Army fort founded in 1867. The site is now part of the Bozeman Agricultural Research and Teaching (BART) Farm.

For this project, faculty, staff and students of MSU’s award-winning Montana Site Stewardship Program and the Bureau of Land Management’s Project Archaeology program will work with the museum to host a site stewardship training and recruit local volunteers to analyze surface artifacts unearthed after spring plowing.

The group also will create educational signage for the Fort Ellis site and share information with the public.

“Through this project, the citizens of Gallatin Valley will better understand the importance of preserving and protecting archaeological and historical sites and the significance of these places to our shared history and identity,” Alegria said. “Bozeman residents will have the opportunity to engage in their collective history and play a part in protecting a historic place that is of national significance.”

The Fort Peck Buffalo Connections Project: Storypole Prototypes and Implementation, proposed by Michael Everts, associate professor in the School of Architecture in the College of Arts and Architecture, will provide freestanding story poles that will be marked with colors and story elements to honor the buffalo.

The project is a collaboration between MSU’s School of Architecture and MSU’s Department of Health and Human Development in the College of Education, Health and Human Development, in conjunction with Fort Peck Community College and a Fort Peck community group.

Since the reintroduction of ancestral buffalo to Fort Peck Reservation lands in 2012 and 2014, faculty and staff of MSU have been engaged with Fort Peck community partners to exchange and apply knowledge and resources to improve the physical, mental and spiritual health of the Fort Peck indigenous people and communities.

The seed grant will help project organizers develop and install the story poles. MSU architecture students will work with community stakeholders to choose prototype materials, paints, carving and other methods for recording symbolic stories.

For more information about the seed grant program and to access the request for proposal form, go to http://www.montana.edu/outreachengagementcouncil.

Contact: Kim Obbink, kobbink@montana.edu or (406) 994-6550

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