Community and Economic Impact

Education Programs and Outreach

CFWEPThe Clark Fork Watershed Education Program (CFWEP) at Montana Tech (Rayelynn Brandl, Director) has been placing scientists in the classroom for STEM education/outreach since 2005.   The CFWEP provides robust educational experiences to all 36 Superfund-affected communities of the Clark Fork Watershed.  CFWEP provides teacher professional development along with authentic research experiences for K-12 students. To date, CFWEP has served over 68,000 students and over 700 teachers.  The annual operating budget of CFWEP is $767,000, funded by the MT Department of Justice Natural Resource Damage Program (NRD), with additional contributions from Butte-Silver Bow, the National Institutes of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency.  With the projected sunset of the NRD contract in early 2024, CFWEP is actively seeking philanthropic and federal support to continue its education and outreach to disadvantaged Montana communities.

SURF poster presentationsMontana Tech’s PHAGES grant from the National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award hosted several summer research projects on campus. These projects will discover and characterize bacteriophages (a.k.a. phages), which are tiny viruses that infect bacteria. Phages have been used to successfully treat infectious diseases caused by bacterial pathogens. The overwhelming majority of phages, the most numerous biological entities on the planet, have not yet been discovered. Two undergraduate students, Kylie Marks, a sophomore biochemistry major from Helena and Sara Burgmeier, a senior biology major from Drummond will work with Biology Professor Marisa Pedulla and CFWEP’s Chris Doyle to isolate, purify, and characterize bacteriophages that infect a devastating fish pathogen bacteria. Partnerships with FWP Fish Scientists at the Washoe Fish Hatchery and Great Falls will test these phages for therapeutic applications in future studies. The Montana Tech undergraduates also worked with a group of middle and high school teachers and six high school students in the PHAGES Pipeline Program. The PHAGES project is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.  See also:  https://youtu.be/0XwzWcWyERY

The Montana Tech Public Lecture Series (Susie Anderson, Coordinator) was expanded in Fall 2021 to involve at least one speaker per month speaking about topics that would be of interest to the general public.  For example, Josh Bryson of the Atlantic Richfield Company spoke on September 22 on “Nature Based Solutions for Soil Remediation Management in Butte.”  In addition to students and faculty at Montana Tech, the public lecture series is advertised to the Butte community and surrounding areas.  These presentations are available via Zoom.  Speakers this Fall included scientists from New York, Montana, Wisconsin, Michigan, etc.  A presentation “Restoration and Reciprocity” in September by Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer of the State University of New York had over 100 attendees, including students, faculty, and the general public.  The lecturers this year were chosen and hosted by Professors Cox and Pal, and the MBMG.