By Gus Hammond EBS CONTRIBUTOR
There is a new path for Lone Peak High School students after they leave the Big Sky School District. This path is being paved by the Big Sky Futures Program, led by junior Charlee Sue Dreisbach and Matt Kidd, managing director of Lone Mountain Land Company.
Dreisbach came up with the idea to begin Big Sky Future after experiencing the HATCH Summit. This is essentially an opportunity for high school students to be involved in creating a sustainable future. Dreisbach was chosen to attend the HATCH Summit, where a group of students work through workshops and meet with business owners from around the world.
From this experience, Charlee used what she learned from this eight-week-long program and applied it to career opportunities for high school students.
“The school system can be frustrating,” Dreisbach said, “And when you don’t understand what you are learning and how that applies to your future, that can be tough on students.”
Big Sky Futures is a program that introduces students to possible career paths in Big Sky. Every month, during the school year, there’s an assembly at the Warren Miller Performing Art Center where Charlee will bring a business owner to tell their story. This gives insight to the students of LPHS into what it is like to own a business in a growing town like Big Sky.
In the October assembly, Dreisbach brought in Kara Blodgett, a local restaurant owner who founded the Rocks. Blodgett came to the assembly, where she told the students where she came from, her story of becoming an entrepreneur, and what it’s like to work in the kitchen.
Dreisbach envisions many possible internship opportunities among Lone Peak High School students. The main intention is to have these students get some experience under their belts before entering their lives outside of high school.
“We are trying to connect what we are doing in school and how that is used in careers,” Dreisbach said.
Each month, they hope to have a new business to be incorporated into. While there is no exact schedule for when all the assemblies will happen, each one will be different. Students will hear from various business owners each time. This is in the hope that the students will listen to a new person, perspective, and story.
Matt Kidd wanted to incorporate his own ideas into this new program. Kidd said he was influenced after talking with Andy Dreisbach, Charlee’s father.
“We spoke about helping craft a vision for the youth of Big Sky to understand the businesses of Big Sky and southwest Montana,” Kidd said, “so that down the road students could envision a career here, maybe even after college and working elsewhere for a time.”
Not only that, but Kidd introduced this idea to the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. This would make it so it doesn’t only benefit the students but the local businesses of Big Sky so these students could have a possible internship.
“The Chamber offers a Leadership Big Sky program to applicants of various businesses, and part of what we are doing with Big Sky Futures was inspired by that program—helping the youth of Big Sky understand how Big Sky works,” Kidd said.
Matt Kidd stated that this was an opportunity for him to give back to the community and hopefully move forward with the program for the students of LPHS and the businesses of Big Sky.
According to Kidd and Charlee Dreisbach, many businesses want to participate in the program.
“We have lots of interest from businesses that want to be a part of the program—both for speaking and internships,” Kidd said.
The Big Sky Future Program will present at the high school once a month with a new business owner to teach the students that what they are learning will be helpful later in life.