By Barbara Rowley
explorebigsky.com contributor

A unique scholarship fund has been established in the name of Walkin’ Jim Stoltz, the famed singer-songwriter who passed away in 2010. The Kid for the Wild Scholarship will be awarded to two applicants annually (age 12-17) who want to attend a summer nature or outdoor program or camp.

“We’ve raised just shy of $10,000 so far,” says Kid for the Wild Scholarship Committee member Leslie Stoltz. “So we feel confident to begin awarding two applicants $750 each to be used toward a summer adventure in the outdoors.”

The committee has created a list of programs that fit with the Kid for the Wild philosophy, but are also willing to consider any program that gets a kid outside enjoying, learning and appreciating the natural world. “Jim felt strongly that kids could be the strongest advocates for the planet,” says Stoltz, “but he worried that too many young people weren’t even having the opportunity to experience nature.”

He was not alone. In response to statistics showing kids spending more and more time inside in sedentary electronic pursuits, a national movement—No Child Left Inside—has been growing. Stoltz sees the Kid for the Wild scholarship as part of this movement. “Jim grew up exploring the Michigan woods around him, and it made him who he was. We will launch this scholarship with a specific goal of getting local Montana kids out appreciating the mountains.” To this end, the fund will accept applications from all kids, but will give preference to local Montanans in the selection process.

Applications are available at Ophir School and on-line at musemusic.org. Due January 15. For more information contact Leslie Stoltz at 995-4906.