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.