Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Alumni Spotlight: Emily Clark

Emily served as both an AmeriCorps Leader at Montana Campus Compact, and later as a staff member! Of the service year, Emily said "I was able to witness inspirational community service occurring across the vast state of Montana. MTCC college student members served a breadth of community needs: from health classes at the Poplar Wellness Center with Fort Peck Community College to the TRIO peer tutoring at UM Western in Dillon. MTCC fostered collaborations between non-profits and college campuses to meet community needs and encouraged student members to be proactive citizens. I feel fortunate to have met many engaged and charitable Montanas while working for MTCC."
Emily is currently a hydrologist with WGM Group, Inc..Thanks for your service, Emily!

Alumni Spotlight: Sydne Campbell

Sydne served as a Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA at Fort Peck Community College from 2004-2005. Of the service year, Sydne said "It helped me to be able to work with those from other areas of the United States and see what we do have in common as one. It gave me a positive encouraging push to strive to help others in a positive way. It helped me to give back to my community and the organization."
Sydne currently works as a Legal Assistant/Administrative Assistant at the Fort Peck Tribes Chairman's Office. Thanks for your service, Sydne!

Almuni Spotlight: Katie Koga

Katie served as a Campus Compact AmeriCorps Team Leader at The University of Montana from 2010-2011. Reflecting on the service year, Katie said "This experience helped shape my view of public service and what it looks like for different individuals. Following my time with Campus Corps, I transitioned to working for a social justice organization, addressing issues of prejudice, oppression, and discrimination. As I'm transitioning to a career in healthcare, my service experience continues to strengthen my commitment to work that serves and benefits the public while engaging me as a community member."
Katie is a current student at the University of Montana, in the pre-nursing program. Thanks for your service, Katie!

Alumni Spotlight: Jon Stephani

Jon served as an AmeriCorps Team Leader at The University of Montana Western from 2009-2011, and was a staff member at Montana Campus Compact from 2013-2015. Reflecting on service, Jon said "I would not be where I am today without my experience with the Montana Campus Compact. My two years of National Service set the stage for my future career. While serving, I was involved in many training and development opportunities that allowed me to build skills in Situational Leadership, Group and Team Dynamics, and Project Planning and Implementation. National Service pushed me to become not grow professionally, but to become a better person. As a staff member for the Montana Campus Compact, I was able to pass on the same passion for national service and skills to other National Service Members. In a sense, I was able to pass the torch to a new generation."
"I am eternally grateful to the Montana Campus Compact for all the opportunities that were provided to me. I developed a deep sense of community involvement that I have carried with me into a new career. The Compact instilled the desire to serve my community, and to make the world around me a better place."
Thanks for your service, Jon!

Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Gardner Newbold

Jennifer was an AmeriCorps Leader with the University of Montana Campus Corps from 1999-2000. Reflecting on service, Jennifer said "It really solidified in me a sense of responsibility to my community. I was always civic-minded, but my second year with AmeriCorps as an AmeriCorps Leader with Campus Compact really instilled in me a lifelong sense of duty in me. I think that’s because I developed a deep appreciation for service through my time with AmeriCorps. You see so many needs met, but also so many needs left unfulfilled. You learn that you actually can – and do – make a difference. It also helped me develop many professional skills that I rely on today – particularly understanding how different personalities can work together and how positivity and organization really do help you get things done!"
"I feel I can say with confidence, that without my AmeriCorps experience, my life could have taken a different path. The opportunity to engage in something meaningful after finishing college, but before moving on to the next phase of my life, is something I will always be grateful for. AmeriCorps is a unique experience, and one that without a doubt, shaped who I am today."
Jennifer is currently an attorney with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thanks for your continuing service, Jennifer!

Alumni Spotlight: Jenny Eck

Jenny served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Poverello Center, Inc. from 2004-2005. Reflecting on the service year, Jenny said "The work I did during my year as an AmeriCorps VISTA helped me prepare for future employment in many ways. It was my first job in a professional office setting, and my first job in the nonprofit sector. It was also how I gained experience in grant writing and fundraising. I have since gone on to build on those skills I first learned at the Poverello Center."
"When I come across people in the professional world who were once VISTA’s, I often know it right off the bat. There’s something about AmeriCorps volunteers: their work ethic, their hopefulness, their commitment to their communities and to service. I know that AmeriCorps service members and alums are transforming our country and our state for the better, one project at a time!"
Jenny is currently the Executive Director of the Friendship Center in Helena, MT and Minority Leader of the Montana House of Representatives. Thanks for your continuing service, Jenny!!

Monday, November 26, 2018


Thanks to Campus Compact and the University of Montana, last week I was able to attend the Newman Civic Fellows Conference in Boston, Massachusetts as the University of Montana’s Newman Civic Fellow.

Held at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, the conference brought together student leaders from across the country to celebrate our work and strategize for the future. Fellows had the special opportunity of debating current issues, such as the DREAM Act and the Farm Bill, in a way that closely resembled real-life deliberations in the Senate. We also toured the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, and used the space to continue discussing the theory and practice of organizing for change. Connecting with other young activists in Boston helped me realize both the common threads that run through all of our work, and how we can collaborate to address big problems, as well as the characteristics that make my community unique. I left the conference feeling truly inspired by the incredible activists that I met and empowered to make a tangible, positive change in my community.

Sophie Moon, a Political Science and Environmental Studies student from the University of Montana, is one of seven Montana Newman Civic Fellows.

Monday, November 19, 2018


Tech Camp 1I had never heard the phrase “gamify education” before I joined the Tech4Good team at Salish Kootenai College.

Gamifying education is a trendy term for efforts to create immersive, engaging experiences as opposed to traditional lecture or classroom learning and it’s something I continue to enjoy implementing into our various programs at. Another term commonly used to describe the practices in place at Tech4Good and in the Digital Design Technology department is “experiential learning”.

Our keystone program at Flathead Tech4Good, now in its third year, is called Gaming the Future. The goal of this yearlong project is to gamify our educational opportunities and help students realize interests they may otherwise have not known existed by introducing various technologies and practices often reserved for those working at a more advanced level of study than the 6th thru 12th graders we recruit for our programming. 

Tech Camp 2Halfway through my tenure with Tech4Good, I now believe in the concept of gamifying education as strongly as I believe in the facts like reading for pleasure and practicing music increase your ability to learn and retain information, or that learning a second language has endless benefits.

In past years, the output from our Gaming the Future program has been collaborative board games based on issues stemming from food sovereignty on the reservation to preventing aquatic invasive species in Flathead Lake.

This year, our challenge theme is community health and we’ve taken a different approach to our student projects by working off of a “data jam” model we were introduced to by our partners at Flathead Lake Biological Station.

Implementing datasets and asking students to interpret them has been a challenge, but it’s a challenge I have enjoyed facing and I’m looking forward to the output projects we will see produced by our students throughout the course of the academic year.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


For just over two months now I have been serving at Montana Tech in Butte, Montana. This is not new territory for me; I was born and raised in Anaconda, MT just 20 miles away. After completing a first term of service last year in Havre, MT I wasn’t sure I wanted to complete a second. However, I felt it was my “duty” to perform one more round of AmeriCorps service – specifically at this site.

I was raised in a low-income household and neither of my parents went to college. As a result, I was never sure I would go to college, let alone afford the high costs of schooling myself or even with help of my family. College was not necessarily something I thought could or would be in my future. Then one day in the sixth grade, a woman named Holly came to my school. She was bearing candy and applications for a program called “Talent Search.” She ensured us that this was not for a talent show, but was for those of us that thought we might want to go college one day. So I signed up. I was accepted and was able to visit UM and MSU on trips where I didn’t have to pay anything. It was AWESOME.

Fast forward to high school. I was approached by a man named Brandon McLean. He said he knew I was in Talent Search and that he ran a program called Upward Bound that was similar to Talent Search, and he thought that I would be a good fit. Another application and an acceptance letter later, I was in TRIO Upward Bound and moving toward the goal of completing high school and applying for college.

I am telling this story because now I am serving with the same TRIO programs from which I am an alumnus. When I was investigating AmeriCorps sites to serve I was originally set on leaving Montana, but then I saw the listing for Tech. My head and heart were suddenly screaming at me that I could not walk away from this. AmeriCorps members helped me on my way to adulthood and college alike through serving through TRIO programs. I needed to pay that forward and give back to those that had given me all of the amazing opportunities that I would otherwise have undoubtedly never had. I would not have been afforded the experiences that were given to me. Without these programs I would not be who I am today, and I owe them more than I will ever be able to pay back.

Now I find myself back in my old communities bringing upwards of 70 students on college visits. I am helping with numerous FAFSAs, and filling out what seems like hundreds of college applications. I have become someone who has to be a hard a** and kick some butts to show some of my students their potential. I have become someone who is becoming an expert in all levels of high school math. I have become a shoulder to cry on, a trusted confidant, and a cheerleader. I am exhausted and the work seems to never end. It seems like there are always “fires” large and small that need attention, but I am not complaining. This service position gives me purpose. For what may be the first time in my “working” life I wake up and want to go to my “job.” I love every student that I work with (even the incredibly difficult ones), and I am increasingly excited to see what they will do when they leave this program, just like I did.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


No automatic alt text available.One week ago I hit my two month mark in Missoula Montana, two thousand miles from my old Kentucky home. And of course, it started snowing transforming this valley in the Rockies into a widespread blanket of white. It went from a Kentucky September fall day to a Kentucky harsh winter day in the middle of February. Can you tell that I feel unprepared for the winter that is here? However, that’s a part of the experience I wanted when I signed up to be an AmeriCorps Leader at the SpecrtrUM Discovery Area here in Missoula Montana six months ago. Except the experience I’ve received so far is very different than what I expected.
Over the past two months there is one family that I have come to know very well from serving at SpectrUM and Empower Place. The family consists of a mother, her 9 year old daughter, 4 year old son and 6 month old girl along with their cousins. I expect this clan on Fridays after school hours and Saturdays after their morning trip to the Public Library. The older girls are pretty vocal about their living situations and their troubles, but that doesn’t impact how much fun we have while digging in the giant nose at SpectrUM or engaging in the science activity at the Discovery Bench. The baby girls sit quietly situated right next to each other in their double stroller while mom takes a break in our comfy chairs. You can see how tired she is, but nonetheless she has the sweetest and most genuine smile while her eyes dart about the museum ensuring all kids are accounted for and happy. From this family her 4 year old son has come to be one of my favorite people I’ve met on this journey so far. Cameron loves building tall structures with our Keva blocks and loves trying to figure out how to make a hotel from our geometric magnets. Cameron also works with the 3D printer and likes figuring out what the next big project is for him to build. Engineering ideas from his imagination is one of my favorite parts of the week. We have long discussions about how to plan our next project. For example we will talk about what materials to use and what is the best strategy to make his imaginary building a reality. In the hours we have spent building together I have learned that his favorite color is red, but sometimes green, his favorite song is “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor (I’m sure the cleanest of versions) and that even though he is always quiet he loves to tell you a nice compliment for the day. He talks to me as if we are peers and I appreciate him for that. While I am there to encourage him and support his curiosity, I am overcome with the feeling that I am gaining more from my experience with him than he is from me sometimes.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup and outdoorI cherish every moment I have with this family and the many other families that I get a chance to connect with at SpectrUM and Empower Place. Seeing the excitement on a kids face when the light bulb in their head turns on, listening to their elaborate stories or outlandish thoughts, and getting to share a mutually new experience are all why AmeriCorps gives more than just an experience. This journey is new but feels so right. To seek curiosity in others, speak with compassion, and to have courage to try out new ideas daily is what AmeriCorps, and Cameron, have given me. Thank you AmeriCorps!