Outdoor Recreation Scholarships*


The Michael A. Cavaness Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in 2013 to honor Mike whose passion for life, and outdoor recreation, in particular, impacted the lives of the Montana State University community for over thirty-three years.  During his tenure, which began in 1979 and ended with his retirement in 2012, Mike nurtured the fledgling outdoor center at MSU and grew it into a nationally recognized program.

As an avid outdoor enthusiast, Mike’s love of everything wild took him on adventures throughout the Rocky Mountain and Southwest Regions of the US and from Ecuador to Alaska.   As a skilled fisherman, wilderness guide, backpacker, and rafter, Mike held certifications in Swift Water Rescue, Avalanche Safety, Wilderness First Responder and was a Leave No Trace Trainer. 

Mike’s passion and respect for the great outdoors was contagious and he spent his career instilling that appreciation and passion in others. Seeing Outdoor Recreation through the constant influx of new students kept him young and appreciative of all opportunities he had in his position as ASMSU Director of Outdoor Recreation. His influence on the students, staff, faculty and administration of MSU, the City of Bozeman and the National Outdoor Recreation Community cannot be understated.

*Scholarship Applications will be reviewed and awarded twice a year. Oct. 15th and April 1st.   Submit applications to Ty Atwater at ty.atwater@montana.edu.  Please include a completed application form, resume, and outdoor statement document. Awards are dependent upon the number of applicants and a variety of other factors. Applications will be reviewed by ORP scholarship board.

There are 3 scholarships available for submission. Please review categories and stipulations closely before submitting.

  • General Student Scholarship
  • ORP Student Staff Scholarship
  • ORP Instructor Professional Development Award

Outdoor Recreation General Student Scholarship Award*

The General Student Scholarship Award (up to $250, max $500) is intended for any current and full-time fee-paying undergraduate MSU student to use on an MSU Outdoor Recreation trip, expedition, workshop, or program. Fee paying graduate student applications will be considered should there be available awards after undergraduate consideration. Outdoor Recreation will consider the following criteria when evaluating candidates for the award:

  • Financial need and/or merit basis.
  • Involvement in MSU campus community.
  • Love of outdoors and adventure.
  • Good standing with University. 


Outdoor Recreation Student Staff Leadership Award*

The Student Staff Leadership Award (up tp $250 max $500) is intended for any MSU student who is employed by Outdoor Recreation. Student staff members can apply for this award to pay for any Outdoor Recreation Program(s) or other service providers' certifications, courses, workshops or conferences. Outdoor Recreation will consider the following criteria when evaluating candidates for the award:

  • Financial need and/or merit basis.
  • Duration of tenure working at OR (to be eligible for this award, candidates must at least be in their second semester of employment at OR).
  • Standing with the University and Outdoor Recreation (must be in good standing to be eligible).
  • Leadership positions held and/or efforts made to go above and beyond job description.
  • Intention to utilize this award for professional development (e.g. certifications, conferences).


Outdoor Recreation Instructor Professional Development Award*

Instructor professional development award ($250 award max $500). Being an outdoor leader is more than being able to climb or paddle; it’s a combination of passion, personality and quality training. When outdoor recreation instructors need to hone their professional skills, this award assists in that process. Bringing the skills you learn back to make the program better helps everyone involved benefit. This award helps allow outdoor recreation instructors the tools to pursue a lifetime of education and adventure, and pass that knowledge and skill along to students. These awards are on an individual basis, Outdoor Recreaion will consider the following criteria:

  • Member in good standing of Outdoor Recreation Instructor pool.
  • Have instructed at least 2 courses in the past 12 months for Outdoor Recreation.
  • Financial need and/or merit basis.
  • Involvement in the larger MSU campus community.
  • Love of outdoors and adventure.