BSI gives local students push to science fair, offers summer programming

BY ABBIE DIGEL

The mission of BSI is to develop and effectively communicate a scientific understanding of the Greater
Yellowstone Ecosystem, and Jessie Wiese, the Big
Sky Education and Outreach specialist has been
bringing BSI programming to Big Sky since May
2010. Most recently, BSI mentors from MSU accompanied 15 Ophir/LPHS students at the state science
fair in Missoula.
“The idea behind the mentor program was for the
MSU graduate students to gain outreach experience,”
said Wiese of the fi ve BSI mentors. “And for Ophir
and LPHS students to be able to access resources at
MSU and to feel science is fun and something they
can do,” she said.
This was the pilot year for the mentor program, and
Wiese hopes it will set a precedent for the future.
“Next year we hope to get the funding to place mentors in all grades, and not just for science fair projects,” said Weise.
The funding for the science fair mentorship program
came from BSI and a grant from YCCF.
In early April, BSI will help with the school’s Expedition Yellowstone trip. They will also offer an after
school program in May for fi rst through fourth graders in conjunction with the Jack Creek Preserve. This
summer, they will sponsor a set of summer hikes
covering local science and issues.
BSI also strives to be part of the larger community.
They host a summer event series, and an open house
showcasing their beautiful space near the Town Center. The biggest event is the evening gala, which is the
main source of funding and will take place July 30.
Currently, Wiese is part of a group writing a grant to
build a greenhouse on Big Sky Institute property. The
school also received a Lowe’s Toolbox for Education
grant, which Wiese is coordinating. The grant will
support new landscaping, a butterfly garden, sundial,
rain garden and an interpretive path that will lead to
BSI’s land.
BSI brings locally relevant research to the area
through a partnership program called Science and Society Fellows, which brings MSU graduate researchers to present their findings to the community. “It’s important for a small community to have access
to these resources,” said Wiese.
The BSI office in Big Sky has two Mac computers
open for public use, and space to host up to 25 people
for events.
The Big Sky office of Big Sky Institute opened in
2008 as part of the vision of local residents and a
national advisory board.
The MSU branch of the Big Sky Institute has many
exciting projects taking place—two notable ones
are the launching of a new Butterfl ies and Moths of
North America webpage, and a project called Wildfire Pire that looks at how climate change, fire suppression, drought, land-cover alteration, and invasive
species are related.
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