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Montana

Ecosystem Restoration & Climate Resilience

June 30 — July 12
$6,390 + airfare

Montana

Ecosystem Restoration & Climate Resilience

June 30 — July 12
$6,390 + airfare

Engage in conservation projects and discover how to build sustainable communities and ecosystems in support of a more resilient future. In this hands-on, college-credit course with the University of Montana Western, explore the geology, flora, and fauna of southwest Montana. Meet with Nimi’ipuu (Nez Perce) tribal members to learn about the tribe’s history and cultural connections to the land. Learn how scientists study past climates to help us understand future scenarios, and witness how community design can improve public health and well-being to inspire your college and career paths.

This program is offered in collaboration with the University of Montana Western in Dillon, Montana. Students will receive 3 college credits in Environmental Sustainability. The course will be a mix of classroom (~25%) and field experience (~75%).

• Reimagine our relationship with the land with Nimi’ipuu tribal members
• Search for wildlife floating down the scenic Big Hole River
• Explore how the built-environment shapes health and well-being
• Soak in natural hot springs at a historic lodge in Jackson, Montana
“It was a fantastic experience and a great way to experience what college is like for a high school student. She got SO much out of it!”
—David K., New York, NY
Featured

Expert

An Expert joins each Career program for a portion of the itinerary, lending their insights and perspectives to the experience.
neil-foley
Dr. Neil Foley
Dr. Neil Foley teaches classes in Physics and Environmental Geophysics at Montana Western. Dr. Foley has expertise in mapping what lies beneath us using near-surface electrical and electromagnetic methods. He has studied permafrost, glaciers, and the...
View Bio
rob-thomas-montana
Dr. Rob Thomas
Dr. Thomas is a renowned geologist, Carnegie Professor, author, and speaker. His latest book, Roadside Geology of Montana, was recently awarded the 2021 High Plains Book Award. He is passionate about taking students in the field to share the wonders and...
View Bio
arica-crootof-faculty-image
Dr. Arica Crootof
Dr. Crootof is a human-environment geographer. She designs courses that explore how human activities interact with the natural world and empower students to develop sustainable solutions that protect and enhance natural resources. Students must work together...
View Bio
neil-foley
Dr. Neil Foley
Dr. Neil Foley teaches classes in Physics and Environmental Geophysics at Montana Western. Dr. Foley...
View Bio
rob-thomas-montana
Dr. Rob Thomas
Dr. Thomas is a renowned geologist, Carnegie Professor, author, and speaker. His latest book, Roadside...
View Bio
arica-crootof-faculty-image
Dr. Arica Crootof
Dr. Crootof is a human-environment geographer. She designs courses that explore how human activities...
View Bio
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Itinerary

This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

Departure — Travel Day

Meet your fellow high school student travelers and one or more of your program leaders in Bozeman, Montana, and travel together to your program base in Dillon, Montana. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

University of Montana Western — 10 days

Using the University of Montana Western campus as your base, develop a holistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities of climate change and sustainability. Explore how water resources, ecology, geology, and humans interact in a dynamic landscape. Meet with the Nimi’ipuu (Nez Perce) tribal members to learn about the tribe’s history and cultural connections to this region, and how traditional ecological knowledge can be a guide moving forward. Learn to identify native plants and local wildlife within the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Piece together the clues that tell the geologic history of this land. Develop a scientific understanding of climate change and how people and communities are building more sustainable futures. Join experts in the field examining lake cores and tree rings to learn how scientists study past climates. Rethink how we design and build communities that promote ecological and public health.

Put your knowledge to work through hands-on field-based projects that build climate resilience. Work alongside restoration specialists to learn about ecosystem services, and how to restore streams and meadows using low-tech and nature-inspired designs. Meet with local ranchers implementing sustainable ranching practices. Visit a solar farm to learn about renewable energy transitions, create functional art, and see how art and science can be woven together to support sustainable housing. Learn how community planning, design, and policy impact individual, community, and environmental health. Finally, synthesize new knowledge and understanding to design resilient communities as part of your independent project.

Overnight Excursion — 2 days

Enjoy a cabin getaway in the remote Pioneer Mountains. Stay with your group in one of the most well-preserved Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps from the 1930s. From here, hike through the surrounding forests, dip in the beautiful alpine lakes that are punctuated by rocky cliffs, and try fishing for native cutthroat trout. At night, observe the stars and tell stories around the crackling fire. The group may also take day excursions to Lewis and Clark Caverns, Jackson Hot Springs, or Bannack State Park and Ghost Town during the program.

Return — Travel Day

Head to Bozeman’s Yellowstone International Airport for independent flights home, or arrange for parent pick-up from University of Montana Western. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Itinerary

This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

Departure — Travel Day

Meet your fellow high school student travelers and one or more of your program leaders in Bozeman, Montana, and travel together to your program base in Dillon, Montana. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

University of Montana Western — 10 days

Using the University of Montana Western campus as your base, develop a holistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities of climate change and sustainability. Explore how water resources, ecology, geology, and humans interact in a dynamic landscape. Meet with the Nimi’ipuu (Nez Perce) tribal members to learn about the tribe’s history and cultural connections to this region, and how traditional ecological knowledge can be a guide moving forward. Learn to identify native plants and local wildlife within the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Piece together the clues that tell the geologic history of this land. Develop a scientific understanding of climate change and how people and communities are building more sustainable futures. Join experts in the field examining lake cores and tree rings to learn how scientists study past climates. Rethink how we design and build communities that promote ecological and public health.

Put your knowledge to work through hands-on field-based projects that build climate resilience. Work alongside restoration specialists to learn about ecosystem services, and how to restore streams and meadows using low-tech and nature-inspired designs. Meet with local ranchers implementing sustainable ranching practices. Visit a solar farm to learn about renewable energy transitions, create functional art, and see how art and science can be woven together to support sustainable housing. Learn how community planning, design, and policy impact individual, community, and environmental health. Finally, synthesize new knowledge and understanding to design resilient communities as part of your independent project.

Overnight Excursion — 2 days

Enjoy a cabin getaway in the remote Pioneer Mountains. Stay with your group in one of the most well-preserved Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps from the 1930s. From here, hike through the surrounding forests, dip in the beautiful alpine lakes that are punctuated by rocky cliffs, and try fishing for native cutthroat trout. At night, observe the stars and tell stories around the crackling fire. The group may also take day excursions to Lewis and Clark Caverns, Jackson Hot Springs, or Bannack State Park and Ghost Town during the program.

Return — Travel Day

Head to Bozeman’s Yellowstone International Airport for independent flights home, or arrange for parent pick-up from University of Montana Western. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Featured

Leaders

Meet some of our featured leaders. Please note that these may not be your leaders for the program. 

2023_sloa_stephanie-smith
Stephanie Smith
View Bio
2023_sfija_evan-frost
Evan Frost
View Bio
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Featured

Leaders

Meet some of our featured leaders. Please note that these may not be your leaders for the program. 

2023_sloa_stephanie-smith
Stephanie Smith
View Bio
2023_sfija_evan-frost
Evan Frost
View Bio
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About the Destination

Southwest Montana, within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, harmonizes indigenous heritage (such as the Nimi’ipuu tribe) with diverse landscapes. From Rocky Mountain summits to rolling hills, flora and fauna thrive alongside rivers like the Missouri and Yellowstone. Conservation balances ranching and outdoor pursuits. This blend of culture, nature, and history defines its unique character.

Language

English is the official language of the United States.

Climate

Southwest Montana experiences a relatively dry, mild to warm summer climate. Daytime temperatures range from around 75–90°F (24–32°C), while venings are cooler, with temperatures dropping to around 45–55°F (7–13°C).

Cuisine

Southwest Montana's cuisine celebrates its frontier heritage with hearty and locally sourced offerings. Expect dishes like bison steaks, trout caught from nearby rivers, and game meats. Farm-to-table ingredients and artisanal products feature prominently, creating a fusion of Western flavors and contemporary culinary trends.

About the Destination

Southwest Montana, within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, harmonizes indigenous heritage (such as the Nimi’ipuu tribe) with diverse landscapes. From Rocky Mountain summits to rolling hills, flora and fauna thrive alongside rivers like the Missouri and Yellowstone. Conservation balances ranching and outdoor pursuits. This blend of culture, nature, and history defines its unique character.

Language

English is the official language of the United States.

Climate

Southwest Montana experiences a relatively dry, mild to warm summer climate. Daytime temperatures range from around 75–90°F (24–32°C), while venings are cooler, with temperatures dropping to around 45–55°F (7–13°C).

Cuisine

Southwest Montana's cuisine celebrates its frontier heritage with hearty and locally sourced offerings. Expect dishes like bison steaks, trout caught from nearby rivers, and game meats. Farm-to-table ingredients and artisanal products feature prominently, creating a fusion of Western flavors and contemporary culinary trends.

What to Expect

Review specific program expectations here. For more general information:

Program Themes

During the program, you will have opportunities to engage with the following subject areas.

The Land & Traditional Ecological Knowledge • Meet with Nimi’ipuu (Nez Perce) tribal member(s) to learn the tribe’s history and cultural connections to the land.

Global Change • Learn the science of climate change and how climate and land use changes are shaping land, water, and ecosystems in Southwest Montana.

Building Resilience Through the Natural & Built Environment • Engage with issues of land and water stewardship, renewable energy, sustainable building techniques, and health and wellness.

Renewable Energy, Sustainable Building, and Public Health • Explore the challenges and opportunities of renewable energy and sustainable building design.

Place-Based Education • Connect local-level projects to national-scale discourses relating to field-based approaches with energy, water, land, wildlife, public health, the built environment, and traditional ecological knowledge.

Final Project

Called the “Building Resilience in the Face of Global Change Project,” each student develops a sustainability portfolio based on field notes, discussions, and course content, presenting it to the group at the end. Students are then able to pursue the Program Theme of their choice to explore in more depth with the guidance of University of Montana Western instructors.

Physical Activity

This is a physically active summer program. The group participates in a range of physical activities, including hiking and river restoration projects such as willow planting or constructing beaver dam analog structures. Most days are spent outside, with extensive time spent in field workshops, ecosystem restoration, and other activities. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about participating in all activities.

Altitude

This program visits high altitude destinations. There may be some excursions up to 11,000 feet/3,353 meters, but these will be brief and occasional. Dillon, Montana is at approximately 5,000 ft/1,524 meters.

Accommodations

Students experience dorm life at the University of Montana Western, with two students per room. Common and dorm lounge areas include a variety of games for group bonding. Leaders reside in the same dorm as students throughout the program.

Meals

We take most meals at the University of Montana Western’s dining hall. On field days, we pack picnic lunches and occasionally we eat out at restaurants in and around Dillon.

What to Expect

Review specific program expectations here. For more general information:

Program Themes

During the program, you will have opportunities to engage with the following subject areas.

The Land & Traditional Ecological Knowledge • Meet with Nimi’ipuu (Nez Perce) tribal member(s) to learn the tribe’s history and cultural connections to the land.

Global Change • Learn the science of climate change and how climate and land use changes are shaping land, water, and ecosystems in Southwest Montana.

Building Resilience Through the Natural & Built Environment • Engage with issues of land and water stewardship, renewable energy, sustainable building techniques, and health and wellness.

Renewable Energy, Sustainable Building, and Public Health • Explore the challenges and opportunities of renewable energy and sustainable building design.

Place-Based Education • Connect local-level projects to national-scale discourses relating to field-based approaches with energy, water, land, wildlife, public health, the built environment, and traditional ecological knowledge.

Final Project

Called the “Building Resilience in the Face of Global Change Project,” each student develops a sustainability portfolio based on field notes, discussions, and course content, presenting it to the group at the end. Students are then able to pursue the Program Theme of their choice to explore in more depth with the guidance of University of Montana Western instructors.

Physical Activity

This is a physically active summer program. The group participates in a range of physical activities, including hiking and river restoration projects such as willow planting or constructing beaver dam analog structures. Most days are spent outside, with extensive time spent in field workshops, ecosystem restoration, and other activities. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about participating in all activities.

Altitude

This program visits high altitude destinations. There may be some excursions up to 11,000 feet/3,353 meters, but these will be brief and occasional. Dillon, Montana is at approximately 5,000 ft/1,524 meters.

Accommodations

Students experience dorm life at the University of Montana Western, with two students per room. Common and dorm lounge areas include a variety of games for group bonding. Leaders reside in the same dorm as students throughout the program.

Meals

We take most meals at the University of Montana Western’s dining hall. On field days, we pack picnic lunches and occasionally we eat out at restaurants in and around Dillon.

A Day in the Life: University of Montana Western​

Due to the dynamic nature of this summer program, each day is different and the group remains flexible throughout the program to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Here is a sample day at University of Montana Western.
8:00am
Enjoy breakfast together with your group in the Campus Dining Hall
9:00am
Morning class to identify key terms and concepts for the day
10:00am
Set out on a morning field adventure in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem
12:00pm
Find some shade and break for lunch
1:00pm
Meet with a professional to learn about possible career paths
2:00pm
Return to field-based learning in the Centennial Valley, Dillon, or beyond
5:00pm
Down time to relax or work on independent projects
6:00pm
Eat dinner together as a group on campus
8:00pm
Group meeting to discuss the day and learn about the next day’s activities

A Day in the Life:
University of Montana Western​

Due to the dynamic nature of this summer program, each day is different and the group remains flexible throughout the program to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Here is a sample day at University of Montana Western.
8:00am
Enjoy breakfast together with your group in the Campus Dining Hall
9:00am
Morning class to identify key terms and concepts for the day
10:00am
Set out on a morning field adventure in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem
12:00pm
Find some shade and break for lunch
1:00pm
Meet with a professional to learn about possible career paths
2:00pm
Return to field-based learning in the Centennial Valley, Dillon, or beyond
5:00pm
Down time to relax or work on independent projects
6:00pm
Eat dinner together as a group on campus
8:00pm
Group meeting to discuss the day and learn about the next day’s activities
“Thank you, Putney, for such an authentic and immersive experience.”
—Leslie W., Manchester, MA
micah-sewell

This Program is Directed by

Micah Sewell

If you have questions or would like to talk further about this program, please get in touch!

micah-sewell

This Program is Directed by

Micah Sewell

If you have questions or would like to talk further about this program, please get in touch!

Enroll in two programs & save $1,000!

$800 tuition discount + no application fee

Montana
Ecosystem Restoration & Climate Resilience

2024 Dates
June 30 — July 12

Duration
13 days

Tuition
$6,390 + airfare

Eligibility
Currently* in grades 9–12
*Your grade as of the day you apply

Typical Group
16–18 students, 2 leaders

Group Flight
Departs from Bozeman, MT


 

Additional Info

Questions? Visit our FAQ or call us at (802) 387-5000

 

2024 Dates
June 30 — July 12

Duration
13 days

Tuition
$6,390 + airfare


 

Eligibility
Currently* in grades 9–12
*Your grade as of the day you apply

Typical Group
16–18 students, 2 leaders

Group Flight
Departs from Bozeman, MT

 

Questions? Visit our FAQ or call us at (802) 387-5000

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Request More Info

Alaska
Baja & the Gulf of California
Barcelona
Belize
Chile & Peru
Germany & Sweden
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Montana
Peru
Switzerland
Australia, New Zealand, & Fiji
Croatia & Slovenia
Cuba
Faroe Islands & Iceland
Italy & Greece
Japan
Kilimanjaro
Panama & Colombia
Patagonia: Skiing
Spain, France, & Portugal
Switzerland, Italy, France, & Holland
Spain
France
Ecuador & the Galápagos
Tuscany
Barcelona
Tokyo
Argentina
Costa Rica
Ecuador & the Galápagos
Fiji
Hawai'i
Morocco
Nepal
Peru
Puerto Rico
Tanzania
Thailand
Vietnam
Iceland
France & Holland
Italy & Greece
Spain
France
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador & the Galápagos
Hawai'i

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