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I not only learned about the physical work of ecological restoration, but I also learned how to interact with the community and the politics that surround the people and the land.
~Laura Guptill, Internship with Missoula Parks and Recreation

My internship allowed me to feel like I am a part of something bigger. The people I got to interact with on a regular basis were incredible and inspirational. ~Jessica Crowley, Internship with the Blackfoot Challenge

The internship took me out of the safety of the classroom and exposed me to a world where I had to step forward and rely on myself.
~Liz Bailey, Internship with the Flagship Alternative School

"I had never been exposed to such an in-depth study of land issues... What I have learned is how to think differently, particularly about the society/culture that I live in and the land that I live on.
~ Student

College of Forestry and Conservation

Community Engagement and Service Projects

Throughout the year, Wilderness and Civilization students engage with a wide range of conservation advocates, land managers, tribal leaders, and innovative landowners. Internships and community service projects provide an opportunity for students to work directly with community organizations or land management agencies on specific projects. Through community engagement, students apply knowledge learned in the classroom to real-world problems, and explore strategies to effectively deal with conflict and make changes.

Wilderness and Civilization students offer dozens of hours of community service in the Missoula area. Students may spend a weekend restoring a portion of a Missoula city park, stabilizing the degraded shores of a pond and planting red-osier dogwood, woods rose, choke cherry and other native plants or helping to establish native gardens in city space. They helped build a straw-bale house and advanced Missoula’s recycling project. Students also contributed to several citizen science projects, including the annual Clearwater Game Range carcass count and the National Wildlife Federation’s sage-grouse survey.

weed pull

Students relax after pulling invasive plants on Mt. Sentinel

Each year students intern with a variety of organizations including conservation groups, land trusts, research institutes, farms, schools and education groups, and county, state, and federal land management agencies. Students have interned with these organizations>>

Each year, new Wilderness and Civilization internships are established based on student interests and community needs. For North Slope Sustainable Wood, student Dave Whisenand researched the possibility of acquiring Forest Stewardship Council certification for larch flooring made from small-diameter trees. For the Carhart Center, student Andrea Davidson developed Wilderness management case studies for classroom teaching purposes. For the Missoula Food Bank, student Anna Leslie helped to expand their food recovery program. For the Sierra Club, students Mike Ausman and Kari Musgrove worked on several grassroots campaigns. For Wildlands CPR, student Eliza Donoghue researched and wrote grant proposals. For the Blackfoot Challenge, student Jessica Crowley developed education and outreach materials. For the National Wildlife Federation, student Alicia Hines researched and educated members about the Farm Bill’s conservation programs.

Students Provide Service and Participate in Public Forums

Each Spring, Wilderness and Civilization students give over 300 hours of service to local groups and organizations. They work at local organic farms, help coordinate the Wildlife Film festival, work with the community on local transportation issues, and much more. Students also participate in various public forums, taking part in city council hearings on local transportation planning; commenting on Forest Plan Revision proposals; speaking at a campus food forum; and providing comments at a BLM planning meeting about development on the Rocky Mountain Front, and other current issues.

Students break ground for a garden at the historic Randolf Homestead

Community Engagement and Service Learning News....

Summer 2008 Wilderness and Civilization student, Brett Klaassen, planned a Climb for Climate on Mount Rainier to raise awareness of climate change and booste climate change education. Another Wilderness and Civilization student, Alaina Abbott, interned as a jounalist in 2008. Read more about Brett's Climb for Climate in an article in the Missoulian by Alaina.

April 2006 Three Wilderness and Civilization students traveled to New York City to present a poster at national symposium on Conserving Birds in Human-Dominated Landscapes at the American Museum of Natural History. Under the guidance of Visiting Scholar Chris Filardi, students Audra Labert, Nathan Taylor, and Jessica Crowley presented information on the immigration of snowy owls into the Mission Valley and proposed reasons for the shift in the public’s attitudes toward these birds. The symposium gave the students a glimpse into the complex challenges involved in conserving biodiversity in lands affected by humans; it reinforced the importance of community education and involving the public in science, and helped connect their studies in Western Montana to national and global affairs.

Wildlands Community Project gives UM students hands-on experience
Nov. 14, 2005
By BILL SCHWANKE of The Missoulian

Each year since 1998, 20 to 25 University of Montana students have gotten hands-on intern experience that for some might lead to fulltime employment in a field they love. It happens through the Wildlands Community Project, a collaborative effort of the University of Montana's Wilderness and Civilization program and numerous Missoula-area organizations.

Instructor and program coordinator Nicky Phear says it gives students more meaning to their class work.

"It's often the best part of their academic year," Phear said Monday. "Very fulfilling and rewarding for them because they work on issues that are of concern to them. They get connected into the community and their learning becomes much more real." More>>

Students Collect Fruit to Protect Hungry Bears
During the Fall of 2004, student collected apples in Missoula's wild/urban interface to prevent bears from coming into resident's yards and causing human/wildlife conflicts.

UM students revive New Crystal Theater
The 2002-2003 Wilderness and Civilization program ran Missoula's New Crystal Theater as their Community Service Project during the spring semester. Students chose to work with the Theater because they saw film as forum for bringing together community members around important regional and global issues. The students coordinated films, worked at the theater, and put on a fundraiser for this Missoula landmark. Their work helped the struggling Theater continue to bring more alternative, educational and documentary films to the area. For the students, running the Theater was an opportunity to engage the Missoula community and network with local filmmakers, bakeries, media sources, and community members



Branding in the Paradise Valley
Wilderness and Civilization students participate in spring branding near Emigrant, MT in the Paradise Valley.