Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Students from across the Flathead Reservation gathered at Salish Kootenai College for Flathead Tech4Good’s Winter Game Jam the weekend of February 9th. Games were played, tested, and dissected as we refined prototypes from our Fall Game Jam and made plans for our next collaborative project!

The game’s Water Warriors and Mussel Hustle were prototyped the first weekend in November. Since then, students behind the project spent time with our partners at Native Teaching Aids designing the game board, playing pieces and cards.
On Saturday morning, both polished games were play-tested for feedback and refinement. Students and volunteers, who had never seen the games, played in groups of four or five. Volunteers from Native Teaching Aids and the students who crafted the games took notes on the game’s mechanics and educational components for further refinement.

With feedback in hand, both games will be finalized in time for presentation at our Spring Game Jam in May.

Polson, Charlo, Ronan and St. Ignatius were represented by students from 1st to 10th grade. Because of the wide age range, we structured the weekend into blocks to allow more unique interests to be explored.

For example, Saturday afternoon we had students designing “Choose Your Own Adventure” style stories using a free application called Twine; at the same time, we had students exploring virtual reality with an art-based program called TiltBrush that allows users to paint in a fully immersive, 3D environment. Other students learned some tips and tricks for Photoshop while some kept playing and designing games!

“Do you have these every weekend?” one girl asked.
The first steps towards creating a virtual “scavenger hunt” on the reservation were taken Saturday night and Sunday morning. We wrapped up the weekend with a to-do list of goals to accomplish between now and the Spring Game Jam and a plan to see the new project to fruition in the coming months.

In the Summer, participating students have the unique opportunity to present their work in front of the Immersive Learning Research Network at their annual conference. Last year it was held in Portugal; this year it will take place in Missoula, Montana. We’re excited to continue working with the students involved and can’t wait for their chance to present on a global platform!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Today we're lucky to have guest piece from Isabel Langlois, a University of Montana student and Newman Civic Fellow with Campus Compact. Thank you, Isabel!

Newman Civic Conference Fellows in Boston
In November 2017, with the support of the UM Civic Engagement Office, I was able to attend the Newman Civic Fellowship Conference in Boston, MA at the Edward Kennedy Institute. 

I took on the identity of a
Democrat from Colorado to debate the
controversial Farm Bill.
A few days were packed with elevator introductions, Farm Bill riders, and Ted Talks; beyond this, the Newman Civic Fellowship Conference in Boston Massachusetts was the gathering of motivated college students sharing stories of the organizing challenges, successes and the potential of our generation. One moment in particular demonstrated the engine of change that Newman Civic Fellows hold is when the President of Campus Compact, Andrew Seligsohn, asked those who were the first generation in their family to graduate stand up in a closing meeting. A moment later close to three quarters of the mock Senate floor in the Edward Kennedy Institute stood up, the others stood clapping in concert. We looked around relishing in the energy of cultural change that hover in this room. Moments like this seemed to roll in throughout the weekend.

A part of the Conference included free access to Ted Talks where we were able to listen to the first women astronaut in space. She discussed her mediocre skills playing the flute while showing footage of a concert with Jethro Tull; he played live in Germany and she floated through Space. Another resonating conversation included a local prosecutor from Boston discussing his story becoming a prosecutor, a powerful actor in the controversial issue of mass incarceration. A fellow student spoke about his desire as a young adult to become a lawyer for the profits, a required internship for his degree with a public defender, and a powerful lesson. After his
Newman Civic Fellows at the Kennedy Center for the U.S. Senate
internship with a local public defender, he described watching many people that looked like him being locked up over and over again; however, that he began to see the power of helping them through the prosecutor instead of the public defender. He went on to be a prosecutor in Boston, looking to keep people out of jail rather than putting them in; which he spoke of as redeeming the position. Many of the fellows were of mixed ethnicity and race, and the discussion, again, spoke to the struggles that seemed quite apparent to this audience.

The mock Senate floor in the Kennedy Institute
where Fellows would give speeches based
on which Senator we became for a mock Senate trial.
The Conference overall provided space for networking among students and worshiping with leadership skills as well. We crafted different ideas in how we would like to stay communicated, and have followed through with numerous. One in particular is sharing online petitions concerning important regional and national issues, and contacting one another about regional issues that could be misunderstood across the country. For example, a student in Utah and I discuss via email the differences among the framing of the Public Lands Transfer movement in Montana versus Utah. Currently, we share local ads and propaganda that frame the issue for locals differently between State, so as to understand how issues of importance differ among communities of our own country.  Another example, is students in the Southeast in particular wrote petition in support of The Dreamers and circulated them through the Fellow network. The Conference provided space to demonstrate to Fellows the engine of change possible through the youth of our nation. I left feeling confident in what others Fellows around the nation are doing for all of us, and energetic in addressing challenges in my own community.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Montana Campus Compact VISTA Harley Fredriksen currently serves at University of Montana (UM) Broader Impact Group bringing UM Graduate Students and Researchers into Public School classrooms across the state. I was lucky to get out of the office for few hours and tag along with Harley and Kate Perkins on their recent trip down to Hamilton Middle School where Kate taught physics through hula hooping. 

The Broader Impact Group Model was developed to help form working partnerships between  various University departments. Over the years the program has had great success in connecting university departments around extending campus resources into surrounding communities. MTCC VISTAs, Katy White and Harley Fredriksen have been helping shape those successes for the past two years. 
“For me the best of of service has been translating great UM resources, largely science curriculum into approachable lesson plans for smaller and more under-served communities and students across Montana.” – Harley Fredriksen 
On a cold and grey Missoula Wednesday Kate, a UM MS student in Systems Ecology studying river ecology in the Upper Clark Fork, stepped up as a We Are MT in the Classroom (WRMT) volunteer for the second time. She led Hamilton students through the core concepts of mass, gravity, force, and friction and then turned them loose to team test these concepts with hula hoops. 

Harley noted, “It is always nice to go into classrooms and get students moving - learning through doing. We have been to Hamilton a couple times now. The students know what the Role Models program is, we know them, and it is a great experience overall.” 

As the program looks to consistently grow capacity through the VISTA project Harley intends to make the most of visits down to the Bitterroot. WRMT will begin hosting Open Houses in Hamilton and Corvallis Schools in February and throughout the spring to connect classroom teachers with local professionals who can become WRMT mentors too. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Blogging about one’s own event can be difficult in my eyes. This is when I’m conscious of coming across as stuck up, fake, or WORSE to hype up an event that really wasn’t that eventful. So I’ll tell you a bit about the event and hopefully the video links below from NBC Montana and KPAX T.V. below will reflect that as well.

 KPAX T.V. MLK at the ROXy
NBC Montana MLK Day at the ROXY

Image result for MLK made of GoldAcross the state Montana Campus Compact and AmeriCorps members helped continued the MLK Read for Peace mission with a few creative add-ons within the community. In Missoula I (Jason Forges, AmeriCorps Senior Leader) was part of the MLK committee and implemented the screening of “Selma” at the Roxy theater here in Missoula. Selma is a story of Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama where racism was strong and openly expressed in 1965. This story not only shows the great work of Dr. King and others, but also shows how Martin Luther King Jr. was human too.

What I’ve learned from that experience is that it’s the importance appreciate people that helped behind the scenes. With that I would like to thank Carly Hosford-Israel (AmeriCorps VISTA Leader) for brain storming the idea with me and Ja’ton Simpson for facilitating the community discussion. Selma at the Roxy Theater was a packed event! So much that we had to open up a second theater so people wouldn’t have to stand in the back or sit on the floor. I think that shows something. The things that come to mind are curiosity, awareness, or both.

In the middle of the screening Selma was paused where Dr. King talks about the unlawful death of Jimmy Lee Jackson by the police officers in Selma. We then had a facilitated discussion with the audience from both rooms that was led by Ja’ton Simpson.

Creating an event like this you’ll never know what you’ll get from those discussions and what we got was GOLD! Community members young and old talked about their perspective on race in America now and back in the 60s. A couple community members even talked about their experience in going to Selma, Alabama in 1965 and joining the march. Overall this event started a conversation on how to move forward as we deal with current issues and not to only just talk about issues but to have ACTION, look for action or create an action plan with you and others. Hope you enjoy the videos.

Friday, January 12, 2018


Photo credit: Adrienne Hopkins, Missoula Aging Services.
I just got back at my desk after being at Lewis and Clark Elementary School here in Missoula. Today's when many of Campus Compact's Read For Peace events happen, and I'm nearly always moved to tears at some point during the day. I wouldn't say I'm a very emotional person, but there's something about six, seven and eight year old kids s thinking about segregation and learning about the civil rights movement, and applying it to their realities that always gets me choked up. The bafflement on kids faces when you talk about separate "white only" drinking fountains, parks and restaurants tells me that this country, for a rough as it can be in 2018, has made headway. Certainly, I'm a white person and male, and I know those facts give me privileged vantage point, but the reminders I got in classrooms, that kids' default settings are to love, accept, support each other really helped to give me  some hope for the future.

Read For Peace works from a pretty simple idea, that volunteers reading books and leading activities in elementary schools is a good way to draw attention to the importance of the day, and a good way to add some oomph to thinking about how we live Dr. King's legacy. MTCC AmeriCorps VISTA Bess Palares started Read for Peace just about six years ago, when she served with the Missoula County Public Schools. Since then, we've grown the event to a statewide one, supported by Campus Compact and which partners heavily with Senior Corps and other folks who run National Service program. Here in Missoula, we always get a huge shot in the arm from the amazing team at Missoula Aging Services. In Missoula, the mayor turns out typically, University of Montana student athletes, and a huge crop of citizens. The same is true (accepting the Griz athletes) across Montana! Thanks to the volunteers who read, and the Compact Staff and leaders who spearheaded this.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


On Monday, January 8, the Veteran Support Center kicked off a semester long effort aimed at encouraging financial literacy among veteran students. The inaugural event was the Financial Success Summit, which covered scholarships, loans, and entrepreneurship. Subsequent events throughout the semester will have narrower focuses. Connor Harbison, the MTCC AmeriCorps VISTA serving at the MSU Blackstone LaunchPad, supported the staff at the Veteran Support Center, in order to put all of MSU’s resources to work for veteran students.

“Working with veteran and non-traditional aged students, finances can be a big source of stress,” said Joe Schumacher, Director of Veteran Services. “Any resources we can give them to remove that stress means they can focus on other things, like academics.”

The Financial Success Summit gathered veteran students, financial advisers, university administrators, and student loan experts together to share knowledge and empower the veteran student population. MSU has an unusually high concentration of veteran students, and veterans are a core constituency of Connor’s VISTA Assignment Description, or VAD. This makes for an ideal common cause between the Blackstone LaunchPad and the Veteran Support Center.

About three dozen students gathered for the pre-orientation event, which was held in the MSU Strand Union Building. Connor Harbison, one of the MTCC AmeriCorps VISTAs serving on campus, attended and gave a few brief remarks on the resources available at his service site, the Blackstone LaunchPad. Judging by the question and answer session, as well as walk-in visitors at the LaunchPad after the event, this outreach was a success.

“As a veteran student and entrepreneur, the resources at Montana State University, especially in the Veteran Support Center and the Blackstone LaunchPad, have been crucial, both now and in the past,” said James Rolin, founder of Cowboy Cricket Farms, a venture that works with the Blackstone LaunchPad.

The Financial Success Summit is just one of many collaborative events between the Blackstone LaunchPad and the Veteran Support Center. Connor has worked closely with Joe and the rest of the staff during the first six months of service. In the spring semester, this partnership will continue, with weekly outreach hours and a monthly sack lunch, focusing on a specific aspect of entrepreneurship. The goal of this effort is to retain more veteran students and ultimately prevent veterans from falling into poverty.

About the Blackstone LaunchPad: The Blackstone LaunchPad at Montana State University, housed under the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, is an entrepreneur resource for students, alumni, and faculty across the university and community that offers coaching, ideation, and venture creation support.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


On November 3rd through 5th AmeriCorps Leader Dayton Smith helped put on the Fall Game Jam at Salish Kootenai College, hosted by Flathead Tech4Good.

 “Water is Life” is this year’s theme at SKC. With that focus the purpose of the fall Game Jam was to bring local high-schoolers, SKC students and community volunteers together to tackle related issues with-in the community. With the"Water is Life" theme in mind, Tech4Good Game Jam focused on the unique challenges that Flathead Watershed faces.

Now what is a watershed? The first thing that comes to my mind is a “shed that holds water”, but that’s not the case.  Now if you know exactly what a watershed does congrats, but if you’re like me then welcome to the soon to be woke club. Overall we all live on a watershed. A watershed is like a funnel that drains from the land to the same location or body of water. And how our communities treat the land plays a big role on the water we have. Not woke? Watch a  short video on "What's a Watershed"( Soon to be Woke Club: What is a Watershed)

Now learning about watersheds can be useful, but making it useful and relatable can have a deeper connection with the students and community members. With that there’s the Flathead Watershed. That Friday students learned about the challenges that Flathead Watershed faces such as Invasive species, oil train derailments, pollution due to agriculture development and more.
Although there was not a big turnout for this year’s fall Game Jam the effort continues to bring students and communities member together to work towards a common goal.

For more information on the SKC's Fall Game Jam visit Tech4good.