What I Learned From Three Years of Volunteering By Sarah Poole

I started my service journey more than three years ago, when I decided to join the Peace Corps with my partner. We accepted positions in the Nepal Food Security program, where we practiced sustainable agriculture with community members, encouraged folks to eat more nutritious meals, built improved cook stoves, and educated people on menstrual hygiene and gender equality. An experience of a lifetime that taught me about a world much different from where I grew up and what I knew in Montana. I think it is only fair and honest to say that I learned so much more from the…

What I’ve Learned in Six Months by Gabe Alderson

When I joined the Montana Campus Compact AmeriCorps program, I was looking to not only make a change in the world, but a change in myself and how I viewed my role in the world. I had been working for years in the private sector chasing money and reputation, which is what I had originally wanted for most of my young life, but it was leaving me with a lingering sense of emptiness that couldn’t be satisfied with money or career aspirations. When I joined AmeriCorps, it was nearly instantaneously that life changed, and the lingering sense of emptiness began…

MTCC VISTAs in Service to Combat COVID-19 Crisis

Two of our VISTAs, Sarah Poole, serving with the University of Montana Food Pantry, and Haransh Singh, serving at OCHE, are dedicating their service to combating issues that have arisen due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Before the outbreak, Haransh spent the majority of his service developing positive mental health programs for students within the Montana University System. Sarah spent her time in service before the outbreak organizing the UM Food pantry by training pantry volunteers, taking inventory of food donations and other such important pantry functions.  Since the outbreak, Haransh has continued creating positive mental health programs, now through a…

New VISTAs Begin Service

Montana Campus Compact has recently welcomed two new VISTAs! At the beginning of March Cony Craighead and Siddarth Paladugu began their service.  Cony Craighead is currently serving in Butte, Montana with the Montana College Attainment Network. The network supports and serves affiliate members in their work aiding all Montanans to achieve their higher education goals. These first few weeks have certainly proved unique, and have meant that Cony has spent most of her time getting to know her new organization remotely.  Cony herself holds a BA degree in International Political Economics and Comparative World Religions from the University of Puget…

“Community” by Sara Feilzer, MTCC AmeriCorps and VISTA Alum

Playing with Dry Ice in Potions class! Thinking back on my year of service with spectrUM Discovery Area in Missoula, one theme really stands out to me, community. The community of support from my AmeriCorps family, the community of scientists and coworkers and the community of Missoula, which is truly like no other. I grew up in Missoula and when I graduated from Big Sky High School it only made sense to continue my education at the University of Montana. Right away (actually, while I was still in high school!) I started volunteering at spectrUM, UM’s hands-on science center, and…

Who Would Have Ever Thought by Laurie Berg

In the summer after my college graduation, I was working at a bed and breakfast and trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life, now that I held a degree. I really had no idea what was next. I found myself looking at tons of jobs, but nothing looked exciting. I somehow came across some AmeriCorps programs, and eventually I was only looking at those programs. When you make an AmeriCorps profile, cohorts all across America reach out to you with a message similar to: “come serve with us!” That’s what the messages sound like,…

you’ve got mail by Bri Howerton

My relationship with the United States Postal Service has been a tumultuous one. A new piece of mail in my box nearly every day not actually addressed to me, ever increasing postage prices, medical bills which arrive beyond their due date. The most egregious offense, though, was the failure of a “stop package” order put in by my aunt when I first moved to Great Falls. The package had been labeled with an incorrect address, so she shelled out the fee to have it held at the post office. The package wasn’t stopped, whisked away to its unintended home. Multiple…

The Warrior’s Way by Joe Wagner

  When I started my service year I was lost. I was a lost warrior, a United States Marine fighting a battle I didn’t understand. It’s so funny to think about now, because of how the story turned out. But anyways it is always good to start from the beginning. That is where this story begins.  To begin, after my time in active service, I would have never thought of giving back to the community. I understood the sacrifices my brothers and sisters in service made, but the general American public, no way they never knew hardships, they didn’t know…

Spring 2020 Community Building Institute

Montana Campus Compact is happy to announce that our Spring 2020 Community Building Institute (CBI) begins next week! CBI is a six-part training for National Service members and community organization professionals; sessions focus on transitioning community-based projects from ideas to well-supported and developed programs. Through this lens, CBI supports sustainable development of community-based initiatives. Below is an overview of CBI offerings: Feb. 18th, 11AM-12:15PM: Community Assessment with Dr. Laurie Walker Learn about tools and techniques to assess and understand the needs of a community. Dr. Laurie Walker will guide us through how to look at what resources exist, and what…

When One Door Closes, Another Opens By Megan Ahern

From the personal benefits and life-long connections to the professional development and education award, there are myriad reasons someone may choose to serve in AmeriCorps. For me, the decision was easy. I first heard of AmeriCorps as a high school student when my mother hosted an AmeriCorps member that worked to alleviate food insecurity within my rural community in northwest Montana. Experiencing the benefits of her service as a member of the community ignited within me an interest in the program, but at the time I was too young to join. I decided to keep it on the back burner,…

Getting to Know Montana By Kathryn Danzlerward

Long-time Montanans love to talk about their famously arctic winters. “You live in the east, so this isn’t something you’ll be used to,” they would say with a smirk. Or: “Get ready. Layer up. Be prepared.” These wisdom nuggets were delivered to me at least twice a week. So I bought a winter coat and got ready for a winter apocalypse beyond my imagination. Visiting the Billings Fire Department on 9/11. It turned out to be a pretty normal winter. There were some very frigid days, but this was something I had experienced before in my hometown and on the…

Crossing: A Tale of Two Montanas By Chandler Padgett

I’m in my second year as a Montana AmeriCorps Leader, and my experience has been one of contrast. In the fall of 2018, I left Georgia and crossed a great swath of the country, prompted by a combination of necessity and a desire for meaningful education work.  I ended up in Sidney, a small sugar beet town about 15 miles west of North Dakota. Though hectic and stressful, the following year at the Boys & Girls Club there was indeed meaningful, and altogether an interesting and formative time. While in Sidney, I heard tell about Western Montana. Spoken of with…

The Gears of Change by Haransh Singh

As I surge into my 5th month of what truly has been a spectacular AmeriCorps VISTA service term at the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE), I am struck by how the experience has given me a detailed look at the gears of change. Ever since an enthralling AP US History class, during my junior year of high school, “change” has been a topic at the center of my intellectual crosshairs. How do we genuinely, markedly improve society? This question was at the center of my passion for Keynesian economics that I found in that AP US…

Sometimes No Plan is Best By Madison McDonagh

It’s always important to have a plan set for the future; you plan where you go to college, what your career will be, and what you will do afterwards. I never had a plan for anything; my attitude toward the future was that I’d figure it out along the way. I decided what college I’d attend a month before classes started, and I switched my major about three times before I graduated. Even as graduation came closer, I had no plan for what I was going to do after I received my diploma. As the reality set in that I…

Mentoring Awesome MT AIMS Students By Lana Petrie

American Indians in Math and Science (AIMS), a program through Indigenous Research and STEM Education (IRSE) at the University of Montana, serves middle school students in the Browning and Missoula areas. AIMS encourages students to stay on top of their grades and explore STEM based classes while in school, with the hopes that once the students arrive at college they will be able to confidently enter a STEM field. This program started last summer when 19 students visited the University of Montana campus and participated in a two week camp. They were able to explore the many options for STEM…

Finding Value by Ethan Marston

It was 2:29pm, and I heard a knock—I was so busy getting the room ready that I hadn’t noticed the police officer’s approach. I waved at him through the glass door, shuffled past the ball wall and the tables and reading nook, and hurried over to let him in. “Hi! I’m so glad you could make it!” I told him as I opened and unlocked the EmPower Place’s door. Career Day was about to begin! The EmPower Place is a collaboration between the Missoula Food Bank & Community Center, the Missoula Public Library, and the spectrUM Discovery Area. Because of…

That One Time I Ran Away to Small-Town Montana By Nicole Fortier

I’ve wanted to join AmeriCorps since I learned about it back in High School. At the time, however, I was far from ready for independence. So, I went straight to college and got my bachelor’s degree. Afterwards— and for some time during for that matter— I was interested in having a radical change of pace. So, I decided to commit to a year of service. I applied to several sites and eventually took a position at the Boys and Girls Club of Sidney, Montana. Sidney is an isolated town in the north-eastern part of the state, near the Dakota badlands….

The Duty to Serve – Jensen Lillquist

I chose to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA for many reasons—many of which are personal and selfish—but chief among them is a compulsion to serve the community that gave me an education. I grew up in Ellensburg, Washington to middle-class parents. I am blonde-haired, blue-eyed, male, and heterosexual. In other words, I’ve never experienced adversity related to my race, class, gender, or sexual orientation. I graduated high-school in 2014, and, due to a track scholarship, decided to attend the University of Montana that autumn. I had no concrete idea of what I wanted to study or what I wanted to…

To Be Continued By Emily McMath

One of the first things we learn to do as humans is communicate. Maybe it’s just through coos, wails, and large amounts of flailing, but we’re trying our best. This is where telling our story begins. My first day in service! Gradually, we learn to speak, and in my case, we find it hard to shut up. We have a need to voice every thought that runs through our growing, curious minds. As we go through school, we are taught the importance of reading and listening to others with intent. This is the first case we are actively told to…

Amber Mountains – Chloe Weber

My VISTA office is abnormally large: I’m allowed an overhanging light fixture and two wall sconces. I have two desks, two monitors, a table to host meetings and a loveseat to have one-on-ones. My desk even raises for me to stand at it if I want. Before I saw it for myself several future coworkers had hinted and teased, “oh, she’ll be in Marissa’s old office? That’s really nice.” And while they were and continue to be right, it’s also spacious enough to be more than a bit distancing from the world outside.  In my first months as a VISTA,…