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BSCO welcomes new donor engagement leader 

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Scott Pankratz brings experience leading a Missoula-based nonprofit with international impact 


In late 1994, a former California ski patroller joined the Big Sky Ski Patrol. It was the final winter before the Lone Peak Tram would take Big Sky to new heights.  

“I interviewed for a job at McDonalds, in Bozeman right beside the highway,” Scott Pankratz recalled. “I got the job. But luckily, the job was to work on ski patrol here in Big Sky.”  

He laughs. That joke has been a go-to as he introduces himself around Big Sky since returning in 2023. 

Pankratz says he loved Big Sky during that short stint on patrol. He made great friends and connected with the landscape. He’s been visiting from Missoula almost every year since, enjoying summer and winter in Big Sky with his family.  

Scott Pankratz worked as a patroller in Big Sky long before coming to work with BSCO. COURTESY OF SCOTT PANKRATZ

Now he’s the director of donor engagement with Big Sky Community Organization, fundraising and finding the resources needed to run the philanthropic-based organization. 

“[BSCO] doesn’t depend entirely on philanthropy, but philanthropy is a required part of the funding mechanism for everything that BSCO does,” he explained. Other funding comes through earned revenue from BASE passholders and fee-based services, and resort tax grants. 

Pankratz says he returned to Big Sky for the place, his job’s purpose, and the people—both the “incredibly motivated, smart, leading-with-the-heart people” at BSCO and the greater community.  

“It’s a basic human need that we all have a sense of identity and belonging,” Pankratz said. “In a place like Big Sky, that can be pretty tough to find.” 

He’s proud that BSCO is “so influential in bringing people together” and that he’ll now play a part in expanding the organization’s influence.  

For 15 years, Pankratz founded and ran an organization called Ecology Project International. The Missoula nonprofit organized field programs—conservation service work and research—for high school and college students, international in reach but working as close as Yellowstone. 

While visiting Big Sky in August 2022, he met BSCO CEO Whitney Montgomery at a gathering. They bonded over similar experiences: Montgomery previously worked with Outward Bound, and Pankratz had worked with NOLS—organizations with a friendly rivalry, Pankratz noted with a grin.  

They broke the ice with playful jabs, and Pankratz recognized their common background: “outdoor education, providing experiences for people in places that can change how they see themselves in relation to the world,” he said.  

Pankratz and his wife, Julie Osborn, at the Grand Canyon. COURTESY OF SCOTT PANKRATZ

The two stayed in touch. This past winter, Montgomery offered a tour of BASE.  

“After spending time with him in the work environment, [BSCO] was something I really felt like I could add value to, and really interested me,” Pankratz said. He began with BSCO on March 30. 

Pankratz believes the mental and emotional benefits of sharing experiences outdoors go well beyond the physical benefits.  

“They build community, they bring us together,” he said. “And they make us feel better. I think that integrated sense of how this organization operates in the community for me, is very powerful and important.”  

For Pankratz, skiing is a huge draw to the outdoors. Hiking and mountain biking too, and as a former river guide, floating. He’s run The Rut three times, including one go at the 50K. 

“Probably won’t do the 50 again, especially with a full-time job and two kids,” he said.  

Just in time to celebrate 

On July 7, BSCO will host its annual Parks, Trails and Recreation Gala at BASE. This year, the event celebrates the organization’s 25th anniversary in Big Sky.  

The ticketed event will include live music, dinner, and silent and live auctions. The gala is BSCO’s main fundraising event every year. Pankratz said it’s a summer kickoff, a chance to connect and get an update on the organization and raise some money. This year, they’re expecting 300 people. 

“We really would love to have the community come out, participate, celebrate with us,” Pankratz said.   

Montgomery told EBS, “BSCO is at another great inflection point, where we’re planning our next big strategic initiatives which will require our team to grow so we can initiate more fundraising.” 

He’s excited for the first public announcement of BSCO’s three-year strategic plan, which will be unveiled at the gala.  

Pankratz said the 25-year celebration will “[look] at where we started, where we are with BASE, and [look] out at the future—parks, trails and recreation.” 

Montgomery recalled BSCO’s community forums in October, three well-attended sessions allowing community members to voice their priorities. Although a community pool caught headlines, popular opinion also supported the expansion and protection of trails and park space, and upgrades to athletic fields at Big Sky Community Park, Montgomery summarized. 

“We listened to what they said,” Montgomery said. “And we have set our strategic plan around delivering on those community projects.” 

Pankratz said listening to the community, understanding their priorities and adjusting is another big part of BSCO’s work.  

“We’re really excited about the projects we’ll announce at the gala next week,” Montgomery said.  

Upcoming Events

september, 2023

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23sep12:00 pm4:00 pmLPHS Soccer vs. Lockwood High School12:00 pm - 4:00 pm Lone Peak High School

23sep5:00 pm8:00 pmLPHS Volleyball vs. Gardiner5:00 pm - 8:00 pm Lone Peak High School

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