Seed grants promote outreach and engagement between the university and the community through pilot projects, research, service learning and education. 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.

This was the third round of funding by MSU’s Outreach and Engagement Council since the council began its seed grant program in 2015.

Read the MSU News press release about 2017 recipients

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.

Previous Recipients: 2015-2021