Outreach Seed Grant Proposals Now Being Accepted

Deadline is Friday, April 5, 2024.

The Montana State University Outreach and Engagement Council (OEC) invites proposals for FY25 Outreach and Engagement Seed Grant funds. The program goal is to promote engagement activities that involve faculty, students and staff in partnership with local and regional constituents to address the needs of citizens in Montana and beyond.

2024 Outreach Seed Grant Proposal RFP

About the Seed Grant Program


In Fall 2015, the O&E Council launched a seed grant program after research showed such programs to be an excellent catalyst for encouraging external and multidisciplinary partnerships. Funding for the program was provided by the MSU Office of the President. 

The council invited proposals for grants that would address the needs of citizens in Montana and beyond and that would encourage external and multidisciplinary partnerships. When the proposal deadline arrived, council members were delighted to see numerous applications and ideas--far more than had been anticipated. Further, project ideas represented dozens of disciplines and community partners across the state.

Four awards of $5,000 were issued that semester; four more were issued in Spring 2016; four more in Spring 2017; seven awards in Fall 2018; and seven awards in Fall 2019. (Total: $120,000 awarded).

Successful Proposals

Successful proposals must meet a demonstrated community need; include reciprocal collaboration with off-campus partners; and aim to improve quality of life and benefit the public good. Project proposers are encouraged to include MSU students in their plans.

Why Submit a Proposal?

Seed grant recipients report using the funds to leverage other external resources; to launch a program and demonstrate a successful track record that leads to more funding; and to build new collaborations with a seed grant partner. Recipients have expressed overwhelming support for the program, with one faculty member saying, “This program launched my research career at MSU.”

Other Comments from Recipients

“Thank you for the funding! We have several ideas to expand our program and if we will be able to collect pilot data, we hope to be competitive for a major standalone grant in the future.”

“I would not have been able to complete the project with only the O&E budget, but it gave me a way to get started and then seek additional funding.”

“We cannot express how grateful we are to have had the opportunity to launch this program. We would not have been able to get started without the seed funds.”

Recipients: 2015-2023

Read the MSU News press release

Remembering Early Chinese Immigrants in Montana: A Study of Artifacts in Butte's Mai Wah Museum 

Primary project coordinator

Hua Li, professor, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, College of Letters and Science

Primary external partners

Pat Munday and Mark Johnson, board members, Mai Wah Society

Other partners

Aubrey Jaap, director, Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives; Crystal Alegria, director, Extreme History Project

This student-led research project partners with Butte’s Mai Wah Museum, Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives and The Extreme History Project in Bozeman. Its goal is to give MSU students and the local Chinese-speaking community an opportunity to interact with the artifacts exhibited in the Mai Wah Museum in Butte by using Chinese language skills to translate Chinese business signs, names of teas and medicines, and historical documents into English.

The Mai Wah Society collects and conserves artifacts, preserves historic buildings and sites, presents public exhibits, and supports research and publication of scholarly and general interest materials. Visitors can connect with Chinese history in Montana and learn how early Chinese immigrants influenced Montana culture, particularly from 1860 to 1960. The project also hopes to recognize and appreciate the value of the Asian community in Montana, both past and present.

Academia Familia Latina

Primary project coordinator

Bridget Kevane, professor, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, College of Letters and Science and director, Liberal Studies Program

Primary external partners

Tina Visscher, director, Bienvenidos a Gallatin Valley

Other partners

Sarah Maki, associate dean, and Anna Reardon, outreach project manager, Gallatin College MSU

The Academia Familia Latina is a five-week program that is part of the Humanities, Arts and Social Services-funded Latino Pathways Initiative. This program seeks to educate parents about higher education opportunities in partnership with Bienvenidos a Gallatin Valley, a nonprofit that welcomes and empowers Spanish-speaking newcomer families in the valley.

Through this project, Gallatin College MSU will build upon its outreach to the Latino community and provide information about vocational and certificate opportunities for both parents and their students. The AFL certificate program will provide Latino families with practical knowledge and skills, such as navigating admissions, financial aid and the knowledge needed to guide their children through post-secondary education.

Community Engagement through Recreational Water Quality Assessment of Pathogenic Amoeba

Primary project coordinator

Brent Peyton, professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering

Primary external partner

John Doyle, director, Crow Water Quality Project, Crow Environmental Health Steering Committee

Other partners

Margaret Eggers, assistant research professor, and Sandra Halonen, associate professor, Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, College of Agriculture; Jonathan Shikany, doctoral student, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering

Waterborne pathogens pose an increasing public health risk to recreational water users due to the impacts of climate change. Pathogenic amoebae prefer the warmer water sources that develop during the summer months. Naegleria fowleri is a free-living amoeba, also known as the “brain-eating” amoeba, that causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis upon infection.

The Little Big Horn River plays a vital role in recreation, ceremonial traditions and agriculture on the Crow Reservation. Pathogenic free-living amoebae may become increasingly prevalent in the Little Big Horn River — and other waters — as water temperatures increase. This project will educate the community about potential health risks from pathogenic amoebae and provide students at Crow Little Big Horn College and the Guardians of the Living Water Program participants (Crow middle school through college students) with hands-on experience.

Social Optics: Helping Neurodiverse Students Successfully Transition from High School to University

Primary project coordinator

Nadezhda (Nadya) Modyanova, research scientist, Pennington Educational Research Lab, College of Education, Health and Human Development

Primary external partner

Carolyn Long, co-founder and chief strategy officer, Social Optics

Other partners

Hannah Haygood, teacher, and Jessie Lee, speech-language pathologist, Bozeman Public Schools; Mike McNeil, director, MSU Disability Services; Amy Lincoln, director, Office of Student Success

This project focuses on neurodiverse people — that is, those showing behavior or thinking that is different from the neurotypical majority of humans — especially those with autism spectrum disorders, or ASD, which affects 3% of children. ASD often dramatically impairs social behavior and communicative abilities, leading to challenges in social, economic, academic and overall well-being.

Neurodiverse students are an underrepresented group at MSU, according to the project leaders, who say knowing more about a student’s social and communicative strengths and challenges allows faculty and staff to better support them.

Social Optics is a computer-based instructional program to teach social and communication skills to children and young adults. The program also generates a holistic profile of students' social and communicative strengths and challenges. Researchers note that the Bozeman School District has piloted Social Optics with promising results.

This project will support a workshop in November for MSU and Bozeman School District partners on how to enhance and support the transition between high school and college for neurodiverse students and increase their retention once in college.

Read the MSU News press release

Using Storybooks to Teach Children and Adults about Alzheimer's Dementia Program Training

Primary project coordinators

Marsha Goetting, professor and MSU Extension family economics specialist, and Jennifer Munter, graduate student in MSU’s Department of Health and Human Development

Primary external partner

Renee Brooksbank, associate director, Montana Geriatric Education Center, University of Montana

Other partners

Tim Summers, director, AARP Montana; Amelea Kim, lifelong learning librarian, Montana State Library; Jennifer Williamson, distance learning coordinator and technical support, Child Care Resources in Missoula

The project enhances knowledge and awareness of Alzheimer’s dementia and its impacts on children and families. The training will introduce bibliotherapy, an evidence-based practice that uses storybooks to help children cope with difficult issues such as Alzheimer’s. The team will also use the virtual training to create a continuing education credit course for child care providers, teachers, librarians and activity directors in long-term care facilities. The team also plans to partner with the Department of Native American Studies at MSU to develop a storybook capturing the Native American experience.

Bar1Wellness: Food Rx Program and Support from Gallatin College Culinary Arts

Primary project coordinators

Mike Dean, director, Gallatin College Culinary Arts Program

Primary external partner

Amber Barone, nutritional consultant, Bar1Wellness

Other partners

Community Health Partners-Belgrade, Bozeman HRDC/Gallatin Valley Food Bank, Community Wellness Collective

The grant will provide students with opportunities to work with Food Rx clients on several aspects of producing their own healthy meals at home, including economy, nutrition, healthfulness and sustainability. The team will also offer Food Rx clients instruction in the Gallatin College kitchen on the use and preparation of locally produced and affordable food items.

Honor Bound - IWIKUA Exchange

Primary project coordinators

Steven Davis, director, Honor Bound

Primary external partner

Josh Mori, executive director, IWIKUA

The Honor Bound Program is an American Indian/Alaska Native student recruitment and retention initiative in MSU’s Honors College. This student-led outreach project will establish an annual exchange program with IWIKUA, a Bozeman nonprofit with a mission of empowering current and future generations to be culturally centered lifelong learners and to take active community roles as teachers, leaders and farmers. Honor Bound students will spend 10 days immersed in Hawaiian culture in Kauai, Hawaii. They will learn about traditional Hawaiian knowledge and apply 21st-century farming and wellness practices.

Partnering to Provide Equitable Care to Unhoused Individuals Impacted by Opioid Use Disorder

Primary project coordinators

Lindsay Benes, associate professor, Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing in Missoula

Primary external partner

Becca Goe, director of innovation, Partnership Health Center

Other partners

Christa Weathers, executive director, Open Aid Alliance; Azure Skye McGinty, executive director, All Nations Health Center

The project will work to bring medication-based treatment for opioid use disorder, or MOUD, and harm-reduction services to people living on the streets. The grant supports a three-pronged approach to develop a street-based MOUD model. First, the project will gain insight and guidance from unhoused individuals with opioid use disorder. Second, they will coordinate their response by partnering with organizations serving this population. Finally, it will work with interdisciplinary health profession students to build a pipeline of nursing, medical and behavioral health clinicians capable of implementing this equity-focused model of care.

Engaging Montana Youth in Citizen Science

Primary project coordinator

Chloe Moreland, science communications intern, MSU Science Math Resource Center

Primary external partners

Rachel Wanderscheid, executive director, Montana Afterschool Alliance; Maggie Lowry, family engagement and adaptive arts director, Eagle Mount

Other partner

Camille Sampley, president, Aspiring Educators of MSU

The grant supports creating adaptive and engaging methods of communicating citizen science to Montana youth and youth educators by partnering with Eagle Mount, the Montana Afterschool Alliance and the student club Aspiring Educators of MSU. Working with Aspiring Educators of MSU, MSU students will lead projects and training. Aspiring Educators of MSU will expand their STE(A)M (short for science, technology, engineering, arts and math) teaching tools to be more inclusive and create adaptive lessons for varied audiences.

The Cultural Adaptation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinical Services: A Capacity Building Project with Tribal Communities in Montana

Primary project coordinator

Molly Secor, associate dean and professor, Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing

Primary external partner

Jacqueline Isaly, family and community health bureau chief, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

Other partner

Haven Gourneau, president, Fort Peck Community College

Students and faculty from MSU’s Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing and Department of Health and Human Development will partner with tribal nations to address disparities in sexual and reproductive health outcomes for adolescents in Montana. This project will bring together MSU faculty and students, tribal health leaders and key stakeholders to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health in tribal communities across Montana. The project will provide a tribal context for adapting and applying evidence-based clinical best practices for American Indian youth.

Sparking Interest in German

Primary project coordinator

Kate Kithil, instructor, MSU Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

Primary external partner

Elizabeth Williamson, program coordinator, World Language Initiative

Other partner

Tommy Flanagan, Goethe Institute, Washington, D.C.

The MSU German Program has partnered with the World Language Initiative and the Goethe Institute in Washington, D.C., to implement a program called Spark to address the teacher shortage, specifically in German teaching. The partnership will result in MSU German students getting practical teaching experience in elementary school classrooms using the Spark for German program. In addition, students will use materials created by the Goethe Institute to assist teachers in early language learning programs. Currently, German is taught after school at Irving Elementary in Bozeman. The team hopes to grow the Spark program by adding an extra after-school German program in a second elementary school.

Read the MSU News press release

Resilience and Health: Seniors’ Reflections on the Pandemic

Primary project coordinator

Alice Running, professor, College of Nursing

Primary external partner

Aspen Pointe at Hillcrest

Other partner

Olivia Andrus, student assistant MFA coordinator, School of Film and Photography 

This project will allow residents of Aspen Pointe at Hillcrest, a retirement community in Bozeman, to describe health and resilience in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. This new data will be compared to data collected from residents in this same community in the early 1990s to assess how the meaning of health and resilience for participants in this age group may or may not have changed over time. “Resilience and Health” features collaboration efforts between the College of Nursing and the Science and Natural History Filmmaking program in the School of Film and Photography in the College of Arts and Architecture at MSU. It will involve faculty and students in the creation of a film that can be shared with students, professional colleagues, senior centers and others across the state and region. Publications from this work could reach far beyond the state and region.

Strengthening Gardening Skills and Community Food Security Through a Social Media Campaign

Primary project coordinator

Macdonald Burgess, associate professor, Department of Plant Science and Plant Pathology

Primary external partner

Jill Holder, food and nutrition director, HRDC

Other partners

Friends of Local Foods (MSU student club), Legion Villa affordable housing community, city of Bozeman (Story Mill Community Park)

This project builds upon an existing partnership between MSU’s Towne’s Harvest Garden and the Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems program and HRDC programs, specifically the Gallatin Valley Food Bank and the Story Mill Community Park Learning Garden/Edible Forest Trail. The project will address a growing interest in home gardening in response to community food security concerns that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic. This project is student-led by a SFBS program intern and practicum students at Towne’s Harvest Garden. The students will share home gardening information and practical skills demonstrations throughout the 2021 summer/fall growing season via a series of one- to two-minute videos that will be shared on social media. Links to the videos will be disseminated through multiple channels at MSU and throughout the Bozeman community, with a focus on participants within HRDC food and nutrition programs.

Investigating Neighborhood Character in Bozeman’s Northeast Neighborhood

Primary project coordinators

Susanne Cowan, associate professor, School of Architecture; Sarah Church, assistant professor, Department of Earth Sciences

Primary external partner

Sarah Rosenberg, associate planner, city of Bozeman

Other partners

Nicholas Fox, instructor, Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences; Dani Hess, neighborhoods coordinator, city of Bozeman; Reno Walsh, president, Northeast Neighborhood Association; Karen Filipovich, chair, Visions NE, North East Neighborhood Association

This study examines the changes occurring in the built environment and in the social character of Bozeman’s northeast neighborhood. The project was initiated at the request of the Northeast Neighborhood Association, or NENA, whose members are concerned that growth is negatively impacting the affordability, inclusive social character and informal social interactions of their neighborhood. Working with the city of Bozeman and NENA, this project aims to document the existing character of the neighborhood and the residents’ perceptions of social, economic and architectural changes. Students from three MSU departments will help to conduct and analyze a physical inventory of the built environment, as well as run a survey, interviews and focus groups. This project will provide data for future planning in the northeast neighborhood.

Humanities in the Field: A Gathering of Montana’s Humanities and Extension Practitioners

Primary project coordinator

Mary Murphy, professor of history and director, The Ivan Doig Center for the Study of the Lands and Peoples of the North American West

Primary external partner

Randi Tanglen, executive director, Humanities Montana

Other partners

Molly Kruckenberg, director, Montana Historical Society; Chere Jiusto, executive director, Preserve Montana 

This project will bring together MSU Extension agents, MSU humanities scholars and students, and representatives of statewide humanities institutions to discuss the ways Extension and humanities practitioners can work together to improve the quality of life for Montana citizens. The project consists of virtual networking throughout the 2021-22 academic year, culminating with an in-person workshop in Lewistown in May 2022. The goal is to form partnerships between Extension and humanities practitioners that may result in joint research and engagement projects, seeking grants from agencies with which neither group is yet familiar, internships for students, a resource guide for all parties and a multi-perspective way of looking at issues facing contemporary Montanans.

Rural Education Needs Assessment Project

Primary project coordinator

Tena Versland, associate professor/program leader, Educational Leadership Program, Department of Education

Primary external partner

Janessa Parenteau, superintendent, Froid Public Schools

Other partners

Jayne Downey, professor, Department of Education, and director of the Center for Research on Rural Education; Jennifer Luebeck, professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences, and faculty fellow, Center for Research on Rural Education; Sarah Schmitt-Wilson, assistant teaching professor, Department of Education, and faculty fellow, Center for Research on Rural Education

This project will create and conduct a needs assessment for rural school teachers and administrators to better enable MSU’s Center for Research on Rural Education to partner with rural schools in ways that support programs and people. Needs assessments developed specifically for rural schools are somewhat rare, and many of the specific needs of rural schools go unaddressed through proposed changes in policy and practice, according to project partners. Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest, REL, a regional educational laboratory, and the School Administrators of Montana, SAM, recently completed needs assessments in Montana that address educator recruitment and retention, job satisfaction and policy related issues. However, few questions focused on the needs of rural school educators. Conducting this comprehensive needs assessment will help the Center for Research on Rural Education fill the gap in the REL/SAM needs assessments and provide assistance to rural partners and improve educational outcomes.

Gallatin Commuter Project Rebrand Social Marketing Campaign

Primary project coordinator

Matthew Madsen, research associate, Western Transportation Institute

Primary external partner

Dani Hess, neighborhoods coordinator, city of Bozeman

Other partners

Vanessa Palmer, Transportation Program manager, HRDC; Nicole “Cola” Rowley, deputy county administrator, Gallatin County; Paul Edlund, project coordinator, MSU Office of Sustainability

Many people who work in Bozeman live in neighboring communities such as Belgrade and Livingston, resulting in longer and more expensive commutes. GoGallatin.org (formerly BozemanCommute.org) launched in 2018 and encourages people to replace drive-alone trips to work with trips by bike, foot, bus, carpool, vanpool and telework in the greater Gallatin Valley area. It allows participants to track trips, receive incentives, access Guaranteed Ride Home vouchers, find rideshare partners, use a multi-modal trip planner and participate in commuter challenges. In addition to the newly rebranded GoGallatin.org platform, a new website, GallatinCommute.org, will be launched as a one-stop hub to provide regional transportation resources.

This seed grant will engage MSU students and community partners by continuing to develop and implement a social marketing campaign to engage more people with the Gallatin Commuter Project. This project builds on the 2020-21 project to rebrand BozemanCommute.org to GoGallatin.org and seeks to engage more people in trying out different transportation options available to them in the Gallatin Valley area. 

Read the MSU News press release

Bozeman English Literacy Learner Association (BELLA)

Bozeman English Literacy Learner Association (BELLA), submitted by Bridget Kevane, professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures in the College of Letters and Science. BELLA is a collaborative initiative designed to support newcomer youth in Gallatin County through English learner literacy and mentorship. The nonprofit World Languages Initiative-MT, Bozeman School English Language coordinator and faculty and students from the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures will work together to help students new to the U.S. navigate the public school system and their new community. They will provide non-English speaking K-12 students with academic tutoring and organize a summer literacy camp in 2021.

Hilleman and Vaccines: Connecting Culture to Scientific Curiosity

Hilleman and Vaccines: Connecting Culture to Scientific Curiosity, submitted by Angela Weikert, director of operations of education and public programs at the Museum of the Rockies. In partnership with the Carter County Museum and Ekalaka Public Schools, the Museum of the Rockies will create a new collaborative curriculum, “Hilleman and Vaccines.” The project will share recently donated objects from the Hilleman family, an MSU alumnus who was a groundbreaking microbiologist and vaccine developer, along with lesson plans that expand student understanding of scientific concepts, a screening of the documentary “Hilleman: A Perilous Quest to Save the World’s Children” and livestream programs. Because Hilleman was born and raised in rural Montana, project organizers hope to inspire curiosity in Montana’s rural students and spark interest in global public health.

Community Ice Observations: An App-Based Approach to Map and Photograph River Ice by Citizens Across Montana

Community Ice Observations: An App-Based Approach to Map and Photograph River Ice by Citizens Across Montana, submitted by Eric Sproles, assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences in the College of Letters and Science. Seasonal river ice, which can have profound impacts on river dynamics and the economies of nearby communities, is of particular concern in Montana, Sproles said. This proposal will support the initial development of Community Ice Observations, an app that will allow citizens across Montana to map and photograph river ice. The information gathered will feed a database of river ice to be shared with community safety managers, streamflow forecasters and MSU researchers. The project will engage with educators in eastern Montana as ambassadors for the project, as well as work directly with stakeholders along the Yellowstone River corridor.

Bozeman Commuter Project Rebranding and Social Marketing to Increase Affordable and Sustainable Transportation Choices in Southwest Montana

Bozeman Commuter Project Rebranding and Social Marketing to Increase Affordable and Sustainable Transportation Choices in Southwest Montana, submitted by Matthew Madsen, research associate for MSU’s Western Transportation Institute. This seed grant will support a collaboration between MSU students and community partners, including Gallatin County and the city of Bozeman, to develop a social marketing plan and rebranding for BozemanCommute.org. The website encourages people to replace drive-alone trips to work with trips by bike, foot, bus, carpool or vanpool and telework in the greater Bozeman area. Organizers hope the project will encourage higher participation and a greater understanding of transportation options available to people living in and around the greater Gallatin Valley.

Addressing "Period Poverty" in Rural Montana Schools: A Multilateral Approach

Addressing "Period Poverty" in Rural Montana Schools: A Multilateral Approach, submitted by Crescent Montana, a student organization at MSU. This project will address the problem of Montana students missing school due to a lack of access to adequate menstrual hygiene products and reproductive education. Crescent Montana has partnered with the Central Montana Family Planning Clinic to provide free menstrual hygiene products in 24 school restrooms in central Montana. Crescent Montana also will create and distribute quality reproductive educational materials to complement these products. Since January 2019, Crescent Montana has successfully piloted similar programs in three schools in the Bozeman area. The partnership with CMFPC will allow Crescent Montana to expand its efforts beyond the Gallatin Valley.

Establishing an Experiential Food Entrepreneurship Curriculum with the A.K.F Wakhine School in Senegal to Support Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Establishing an Experiential Food Entrepreneurship Curriculum with the A.K.F Wakhine School in Senegal to Support Indigenous Food Sovereignty, submitted by Wan-Yuan Kuo, assistant professor in the sustainable food systems program in the Department of Health and Human Development in the College of Education, Health and Human Development. Team PATH (Promoting Agricultural Transformation Holistically) will collaborate with the A.K.F Wakhine School in Senegal, Africa, to develop a food entrepreneurship curriculum focused on Indigenous food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture. Team PATH, a student-led research organization at MSU that was founded by members of the MSU Food Product Development Lab, has expertise in education, agroecology, nutrition and food enterprise, a field that focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship in the food sector. Specifically, the curriculum will introduce activities in aquaponics, food product development and field projects with rural women farmers to establish food entrepreneurship. Team PATH will expand the project impact through conference presentations and connecting with other schools in Senegal.

Read the MSU News press release

Reimagining Rural Initiative

Reimagining Rural Initiative, submitted by MSU Extension agent Jennifer Anderson. Reimagining Rural is a collaborative, innovative effort to create opportunities that support small-town leaders in building vibrant futures for their communities. The initiative’s second phase will involve creating a statewide virtual community where leaders in rural communities can connect, learn, share and discuss ways of reimagining their communities’ future. Discussions and activities will be guided by a local, trained facilitator.

Inclusive Community Camp

Inclusive Community Camp, submitted by Jody Bartz, the Don and Sue Fisher Endowed Chair in the MSU College of Education, Health and Human Development. Held in summer 2020, the camp will provide an inclusive, active, creative, hands-on, playful summer experience for approximately 36 students, about half of whom will be students with disabilities. MSU elementary education teacher candidates will work to modify lessons and activities for the camp so that all students have a meaningful experience.

Participatory Open Space Planning in Bozeman

Participatory Open Space Planning in Bozeman, submitted by Susanne Cowan, assistant professor in the School of Architecture in the College of Arts and Architecture. Members of the research project team will provide open space mapping, trail counts, surveys, interviews and design charrette data to the city of Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley Land Trust that can be used to inform the Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails plan, which is slated to be updated in the next two years. The data is intended to help meet challenges the city faces as it grows, including retaining open space, meeting transportation needs and mitigating increasing air and water pollution.

Enhancing K-12 STEAM Education and Mentorship Opportunities in a Rural Community

Enhancing K-12 STEAM Education and Mentorship Opportunities in a Rural Community, submitted by Bernadette McCrory, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering in the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering. Through a peer-mentorship program, MSU undergraduate and graduate students will partner with high school students in Manhattan to craft a science, technology, engineering, art and math – or STEAM – project. Over the course of 16 weeks, MSU peer mentors will interact with teams of high school students to adapt and customize their projects and translate them into lessons to teach at Manhattan middle and elementary schools. The project is designed to enable students to link STEAM with higher education and their career aspirations.

Scientists and Latinos United against Disparities

Scientists and Latinos United Against Disparities, submitted by Sally Moyce, assistant professor in the MSU College of Nursing. Members of the project team will engage with the Gallatin County’s growing Latino community about their health concerns. Through the creation of a community advisory board and a series of focus groups, the researchers will work to identify barriers to optimal health and brainstorm strategies for ways to promote health.

Development of Water Quality Outreach Workshop to Reach Rural Montana Students

Development of Water Quality Outreach Workshop to Reach Rural Montana Students, submitted by Adrienne Phillips, assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering in the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering. Members of the project team will develop learning modules and a workshop highlighting water quality and water quality analysis. The modules and workshop will be designed for students at Fort Peck Community College and in eastern Montana schools. The work is intended to foster relationships between MSU faculty and students and the faculty and students of Montana’s tribal colleges in an effort to encourage more Native American students to pursue engineering degrees.

Near - Peer Cultural Diversity and Academic Mentor for High School Students in Montana

Near-peer Cultural Diversity and Academic Mentor for High School Students in Montana, submitted by Que N. Tran, doctoral student in adult and higher education in the College of Education, Health and Human Development. The project will use international graduate students from multiple disciplines at MSU to provide a cultural immersion experience for high school students. Five graduate students from different countries will share information with approximately 180 students, teachers, staff and leaders at Butte Central Catholic High School about opportunities and challenges they have experienced, perspectives on their cultures and information about their research and career opportunities. The project is intended to expose high school students to different international cultures, research disciplines and career opportunities.

Read the MSU News press release

Connect to an MSU Music Teacher

Connect to an MSU Music Teacher, proposed by Beth Antonopulos of the MSU School of Music, is a pilot project that allows high school students from Circle (a rural northeastern Montana community of 600 people) to receive music lessons via the Internet from MSU student musicians. Recognizing that rural communities often have few opportunities for students to access music lessons, the CMMT project will use interactive technologies to offer free weekly lessons to students in Circle.

Upper-division MSU students, supervised by faculty, will learn to teach one-and-one and will engage with a musical community far removed from campus. The pilot project will allow participants to compare online teaching to in-person teaching and to make recommendations for software platforms and pedagogy for future efforts. MSU students will also gain studio teaching experience, a particularly beneficial skill for those who plan to become professional performers.

Changing Conversations in Conservation

Changing Conversations in Conservation, submitted Mark Fiege of the MSU Department of History and Philosophy, is a collaboration with the non-profit Extreme History Project to shed light on under-represented voices in conservation. MSU students from The Last Best Place Collective will develop a traveling banner exhibit, public lectures, walking tours and community dialogue events that recognize the voices of conservation that have typically been marginalized or under-recognized. The project seeks to open people’s minds as to who was, is, and could be part of the conservation community. In particular, it will seek to recognize the voices of people who are –and always have been—on the land.

The Last Best Place Collective is an interdisciplinary group of undergraduate and graduate students in history, environmental studies, American studies and Native American studies. The group meets weekly and seeks ways to engage in inclusive local and regional collaborations surrounding land and history. The Extreme History Project is dedicated to public history and the conservation of historical and archaeological places. The organization strives to include more inclusive historical narratives. The resources created will be presented to the public via campus and community events such as Bozeman’s Music on Main or the Art Walk.

Financial and Legal Tools for Alzheimer’s/Dementia Caregivers Facing “Double Planning"

Financial and Legal Tools for Alzheimer’s/Dementia Caregivers Facing “Double Planning,” was proposed by Marsha Goetting, professor and MSU Extension family economics specialist. In partnership with several organizations in Valley County, the project team will develop an in-depth program for caregivers of a loved one with Alzheimer’s. The project will help caregivers complete two specific documents: financial power of attorney and health care power of attorney – not only for themselves, but also for the loved one with Alzheimer’s. The program model for Valley County could then be used for other communities that want to provide legal and financial education for the 50,000 caregivers across Montana.

The organizations partnering with Extension are the Senior and Long-term Care Aging Services Bureau, Montana Department of Health and Human Services, AARP-Montana, the Montana Geriatric Education Center, the University of Montana, and the Alzheimer’s Association-Montana Chapter. The project also involves high school and MSU students. Valley County 4-H members will examine a 4-H curriculum that helps youth better communicate with a grandparent or other relative who has Alzheimer’s. These students will also help publicize the workshops in their community. MSU students who are working towards their gerontology certificate will also participate; some are working at a Valley County long-term care facility during the summer.

Gallatin College Skills to Service

Gallatin College Skills to Service was submitted by Stephanie Gray of Gallatin College in partnership with the Human Resources Development Council of Bozeman. The goal of Skills to Service is to match Gallatin College students with community service opportunities that benefit low income or working poor individuals and families. Students will be carefully matched with projects that are relevant to the skills they are learning in their academic programs of study.

Gallatin College students will launch each project by meeting with HRDC staff to discuss their needs, including budget, equipment, materials or other required personnel. The students will then actively plan, design and implement a project, working alongside faculty, HRDC staff and community members. The program hopes to place 60 Gallatin College students in various service projects.

Gallatin College Manufacturing Metrology Kits for High Schools

Gallatin College Manufacturing Metrology Kits for High Schools, was submitted by Aubrin Heinrichs, CNC machining program director at Gallatin College MSU. Metrology is the science of measuring, wrote Heinrichs, and the ability to use advanced measuring equipment is an important skill for STEM workers, which will be particularly beneficial to Montana’s growing manufacturing industry.

Working closely with career and technical education teachers, the project will develop hands-on kits that feature machined parts, CAD drawings and detailed written or video instructions. High school students can then learn to use basic measuring tools, interpret the instructions and practice making the measurements against a known standard. Gallatin College students will develop the initial parts and mechanical drawings and train the high school teachers and students to use the kits.

“This program would dovetail nicely with my classes in metals technology, woods technology and drafting,” wrote Mike Houghton of Manhattan Schools. “Accurate, hands-on measuring and spatial visualization are key to what I am teaching.” Houghton added that the program would also prepare students for continuing their education at Gallatin College or other programs in the state.

Rural Voices on the Big Screen: Connecting Teachers and Students Through Film

Rural Voices on the Big Screen: Connecting Teachers and Students Through Film was proposed by Allison Wynhoff Olsen, assistant professor of English education and director of the Yellowstone Writing Project. The project will connect teachers and students across Montana and beyond through a partnership with the International Youth Silent Film Festival.

“Teachers working in rural and remote areas have limited access to resources, as their geographic locations can make collaboration difficult,” wrote Olsen. The Rural Voices on the Big Screen project will create a supportive and resource-rich network for teachers across the Yellowstone region whose students are creating silent films to submit to the international competition. The network will support teachers as they guide students through the rigorous and complex process of multimedia writing, filming and editing.

MSU pre-service English teachers will lead training opportunities and help develop the curriculum for rural teachers. These students will also benefit by growing their own professional networks as they connect with practicing teachers from communities across Montana.

Gaming for College Success: Indigenizing College Transition Board Game

Gaming for College Success: Indigenizing College Transition Board Game is a project proposed by Tricia Seifert, associate professor and department head of Education. Seifert had worked previously with MSU student game developers to create a board game called Tabletop University that demystifies university jargon and introduces the programs and services available on college campuses to support student success. The goal was to support high school students with their questions and concerns about transitioning to college.

The project team will work in partnership with Fort Peck Community College and high schools in Brockton, Poplar, Wolf Point and Frazer to make the game more relevant for students from the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes. By adding an indigenous perspective, the game mechanics and story will ideally better resonate with the situations encountered by youth on the Fort Peck Reservation. The team hopes to better understand Fort Peck reservation students’ post-secondary aspirations and how the process of developing an indigenized version of a college transition board game may influence those aspirations.

“(The proposal) will be a wonderful support/resource for students who are entering college, especially for Native American students whose retention rates are alarmingly low,” wrote Haven Gourneau, president of Fort Peck Community College. “Nearly 50 percent of all Native American freshmen who enter college do not return the next year. Engaging students in initiatives such as the Board Game will provide them with valuable information and tools that can help them attain their educational and personal goals.”

Read the MSU News press release

Bounty of the Bridgers (BoB), A Food Pantry on the MSU Campus

Bounty of the Bridgers (BoB), a food pantry on the MSU campus, was proposed by Mary Stein, leader of the Sustainable Foods and Agriculture program in the College of Education, Health and Human Development. Stein wrote that MSU students in a sustainable food and bioenergy capstone class researched food insecurity on campus and found that 30 percent of respondents reported some degree of food insecurity, defined by the US Department of Agriculture as “not having access to a sufficient supply of nutritious and safe food.”

Using student volunteers from multiple disciplines, the BoB food pantry project will strive to educate the campus community about the level of food insecurity at MSU while working towards a “popup” campus food pantry that offers shelf stable food in a non-permanent location. During this first phase, students will analyze who uses the food pantry, which will inform the choice of a permanent location. In phase two, the group seeks to establish a permanent food pantry on campus with hours that complement those of the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, a key partner on the project.

The project will also seek support from an AmeriCorps VISTA member.

Stein wrote that research shows a correlation between food security and academic success, and that assisting MSU student in obtaining safe and healthy food could ultimately affect college retention rates.

Prairie Communities in Action

Prairie Communities in Action, submitted by Julia Haggerty, assistant professor of Earth Sciences engages a collaboration of MSU students, faculty and Montana citizens in conducting a community resilience assessment in Petroleum County. The assessment will help enhance the quality of life and strengthen rural economies in six Montana counties surrounding the C.M. Russell Wildlife Refuge.

Haggerty wrote that despite the national and international significance of the wildlife refuge, the priorities of wildlife conservation groups are sometimes at odds with those of agricultural producers in the region. In partnership with the CMR Community Working Group, a citizens’ coalition, MSU students will develop a research project that assesses community resilience: the network capacities and assets that allow place-based communities to respond to disruptive events in ways that minimize losses to livelihoods and natural resources while maximizing opportunities for transformative change.

Students from multiple disciplines will interview stakeholders, analyze data and disseminate research findings over the course of a semester-long class and week-long summer field experience. Their ultimate goal is to share information with the rural communities that will help guide long-term decision-making that affects healthcare, education, conservation, land management and other important areas.

Small Shelters for the Homeless

Small Shelters for the Homeless, proposed by Ralph Johnson, a professor in the School of Architecture, will support construction of a small shelter on the MSU campus that will help students test its viability for a larger-scale project that provides transitional housing to chronically homeless residents of Bozeman. In Summer 2017, students from the Architecture 451 Design for the Community course will construct the model shelter, through which they can test energy consumption, material appropriateness, assembly systems and human comfort factors.

The students and instructors have collaborated since Fall 2016 with the City of Bozeman, Human Resources Development Council and other organizations regarding the potential of “tiny homes” to meet the needs of the chronically homeless. They have also interviewed representatives of local churches, homeless individuals, city staff and local contractors to determine the feasibility of developing a small shelter housing unit and village.

According to Johnson, “no other academic institution is engaged in both the construction and evaluation of not only small shelters for the homeless but in parallel tiny homes. The project has strong local, regional and national interest.”

Montana Annie’s Project

Montana Annie’s Projectproposed by Jennifer Anderson, Extension agent for Rosebud-Treasure Counties, is an educational program designed to strengthen women’s roles in modern agricultural enterprises by fostering problem solving, record keeping and decision-making skills. The project, which has been successfully implemented in 33 U.S. states, seeks to support the large and diverse population of farm/ranch women – ranging from those who have come into the profession intentionally and with extensive experience to those who have found themselves immersed in running an agricultural operation by default through marriage, death, inheritance or other life circumstances.

In Montana, Extension agents who have been trained to lead and implement the project will form stakeholder steering committees in 18 counties that will help tailor Annie’s Project to their area’s local needs.

In addition to offering education on five risk areas (financial, human resource, legal, market, production), a long-term outcome of Annie’s Project is to develop a social network of education, skilled and empowered women throughout Montana.

Read the MSU News press release

The World Language Culture and Exposure Program 

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

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 19thCentury Military Outpost

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

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.

Read the MSU News press release

Christine Stanton, assistant professor in the Department of Education, and Lucia Ricciardelli, associate professor in the School of Film and Photography. Stanton and Ricciardelli are collaborating with Blackfeet Community College on "Piikani Digital Storywork," a project that collects digital stories from the Blackfeet tribal community. Through the project, students and faculty at BCC and at Blackfeet Academy high school will learn filmmaking techniques from MSU students and faculty, who, in turn, are engaged in culturally responsive, community-centered filmmaking and education.

Christa Merzdorf, associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience. Merzdorf is collaborating with Montana's Aaniih Nakoda College in Harlem and Chief Dull Knife College in Lame Deer to bring tribal college and MSU students together 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 and learn about each others' cultures.

Kalli Decker, assistant professor in the Department of Education. Decker will collaborate with Montana's Department of Health and Human Services to study the effectiveness of support services for families of children with disabilities. Currently, 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 regarding 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 the Museum of the Rockies. Weikert 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 measure the bones of cattle, chicken and the dinosaur Maiaisaura in order to better understand the mathematical and biological concepts of growth curves while connecting with Montana's agricultural economy and rich fossil history.