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Blackfoot Challenge

In partnership with the Blackfoot Challenge in Ovando, Montana, Shattuck-St. Mary’s is proud to offer a field course class for our students for a second year.

This course, which is hosted in a region where ranchers, farmers, and conservationists live and work alongside grizzly bears, wolves, bull trout, and trumpeter swans, focuses on leadership, collaboration, conflict resolution, and consensus building. Students will learn the importance of keeping land and rivers healthy, vibrant, and safe for all - people, animals, and plants.

Course goals include:

  • To develop future leaders in collaboration and community-based initiatives.
  • To understand the science behind community-based wildlife, water, and land stewardship and conservation in the Northern Rockies.
  • To learn how to navigate conflict and develop consensus among diverse stakeholders.
  • To learn how to make positive change in the world through the Blackfoot Challenge’s key collaboration principles.

How Does the Course Work?

The Shattuck-St. Mary’s Montana field course is an innovative program for our school. While we have traveled with students before, this is a unique opportunity to connect travel with an academic course.

Students in grades 9-12 are eligible to participate in this class for a one-term academic credit. If interested, juniors and seniors will be able to connect the Montana experience with their ScholarShift work for the year, too.

Students will take this class as an additional course, and it will not take up a class period in their schedule. Students who complete this course will still enroll in a minimum of five core academic classes in the fall term. Most of the class will take place on-site in Montana; students will also have additional requirements to complete here in Faribault before they leave and after they return.

This course format means that students who participate will be immersed in their Montana experience, missing a week of their other classes. While in Montana, students will stay at the historic E Bar L Guest Ranch in Greenough, Montana. They will learn about forest fires and controlled burns, how the community supports humans living in proximity to grizzly bears and wolves, and how the Blackfoot Challenge successfully reintroduced trumpeter swans to the area. Students will explore the landscape on foot, on bikes, on rafts, and on horses.

To learn more about this unique opportunity, please contact Stephanie Vagle

I found the experience very humbling because going in I knew of the stereotype of ranchers…that they were all agriculture, not the environment. Coming out of this experience though, I realized how much they work with the watershed and the natural resources around them to preserve the ‘wild west’ of Montana. I already had an interest in environmental study, too, so this course was very helpful as I continue to look into that profession.

Paige Ostroushko '24

Students studying the affects of drought on the Blackfoot watershed