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 seventh 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 2021 recipients

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 partners: 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. (formerly 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 platform, a new website,, 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 to and seeks to engage more people in trying out different transportation options available to them in the Gallatin Valley area. 

Previous Recipients: 2015-2020