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Researchers at Montana State working to unlock algae’s potential, Over $5.5 million raised for nonprofits with specialty license plate program, Fresh Italian food featured at FVCC pop-up restaurant...and more

Researchers at Montana State working to unlock algae’s potential, Over $5.5 million raised for nonprofits with specialty license plate program, Fresh Italian food featured at FVCC pop-up restaurant...and more
Image by Kaitlyn Hannan 

Researchers at Montana State University working to unlock algae’s potential, including as fuel source

Montana State University researchers continue to delve into algae's potential, including fuel, food, fertilizer, cleaning products, and more. Research Professor Huyen Bui shared, “We basically take what -mother nature- came up with and adapt it to our purpose.” After decades of research, it is now known that algae can be utilized for fuel in trucks and cars; however, algae fuel cannot generally compete in price with gasoline. This is something that may change with high oil prices. Other aspects of algae are constantly being pursued and can be rapidly developed in the lab. [KBZK]

Fairfield potter’s work will be featured in television show

Fairfield potter Andrew Watson has just completed a project that will be featured in a television show called “The Chosen.” Watson has been a potter for nearly 52 years. After teaching students in Utah for many years, he decided to come back to Montana, commencing Big Sky Pottery in Fairfield. His ceramic art can be enjoyed at his gallery, but he has also gained the attention of some directors in Hollywood. Watson shared, “My first movie was in 1994 or 1996. I believe once set directors kind of heard that I was good at delivering emergencies, it all just came together from there.” This makes sense as Watson’s record is throwing 436 pots in only six hours. This comes in handy when orders, such as creating 180 pots in less than three weeks are requested, as was the case when the creative team from “The Chosen” requested pots from Watson. [KBZK]

Missoula couple spends Earth Day giving back to the Clark Fork River

Recreating on the Clark Fork River is popular among many Missoulians, which is a huge reason the Clark Fork Coalition wants to keep it clean. Missoula couple, Delaney Wells and John Stetka wanted to give back to the beloved river. “Our bags are looking pretty full but, that won’t stop us too much. We still got some space, so we’ll keep going ‘till our bags are full,” shared Wells. They are just two of more than 100 volunteers taking part in the event that covers over 180 miles of the river. “I think we’re so lucky to live in such a beautiful place, so we have to keep it beautiful, even if that means picking up a can every once in a while. You’re doing your part as much as you can, however you can,” Wells said. [Montanarightnow.com]

Free access to counseling available for Montanans in agriculture

The stress that farmers and ranchers are under because of the COVID 19 pandemic and unfavorable weather conditions is well known among Montana agriculture workers. The Montana Department of Agriculture and Frontier Psychiatry have partnered to provide free access to counseling and other resources for Montanans involved in agriculture. This program is being funded through the USDA. The partnership provides a variety of services such as individual counseling, telehealth, and medication management, all at no cost to the recipient. Christy Clark, Montana Department of Agriculture Director, shared, “Montana/s farmers and ranchers are carrying heavy workloads, braving the elements no matter the weather, not to mention taking care of equipment animals, family members, and everything else that comes along with their work of feeding the world. Our department is excited to roll out resources to ensure our producers are taken care of first and foremost because they are truly the most important part of their operation.” [KBZK]

Fresh Italian food featured at FVCC pop-up restaurant

As part of a capstone class, students of the Flathead Valley Community College Culinary Program have commenced running a pop-up Italian restaurant on campus. Students designed a menu, workshopped a mission statement, tested recipes, formulated a marketing plan, and went through cost and profit analysis before opening the restaurant. After the restaurant closes, students will present in front of a panel of local business owners and investors to discuss the profitability or loss the business incurred. Chef Manda Hudak, program director of the FVCC Culinary Institute of Montana said that the restaurant emerged after students in a world cuisine class were captivated by the idea of the slow food movement, born in Italy. Students decide their trajectory for after graduation, but Hudak shared that she believes the culinary program has an entrepreneurial benefit that teaches students about the business side of the food service industry. “A lot of people in Montana are entrepreneurially interested. They want to open up a food truck, they want to open up a bakery, so we’re giving them what it takes to do that well,” shared Hudak. [Flathead Beacon]

Over $5.5 million was raised for nonprofits with specialty license plate program

Montana’s specialty plate program works to support nonprofits throughout Montana. The program brought in over $5.5 million for Montana nonprofits in 2021 alone. In 2001, the 57th Montana Legislature passed an act allowing Montana’s Motor Vehicle Division to issue specialty plates. The first two plates offered were the Glacier National Park plate and the Lewis & Clark bicentennial plate. Any nonprofit can apply to have its own plate, and there are 235 specialty plates available currently, with an average of 6-8 new plates introduced bi-annually. [KBZK]

New textbook seeks to inspire a love of Montana history

Fourth-grade students across the state will soon be learning Montana history from a textbook written in Montana. The textbook titled, “Montana: a History of our Home,” covers 13,000 years of Montana history in an easily understandable and enjoyable manner. Montana Historical Society outreach and interpretation program manager, Martha Kohl wrote the textbook and 320-page curriculum to accompany it. The textbook and lessons extend beyond mining, gold rushes, and European settlers. Kohl felt it was of utmost importance to cover Montana’s indigenous peoples. “I hope students know there have been people living here from time immemorial, and the 12 tribal nations still live here today and are really important to society today,” shared Kohl. Despite working for the Montana Historical Society for 27 years, she shared she is still learning new things from primary sources while working on the textbook. [KPAX]

Renovations take place at the Montana Rescue Mission in downtown Billings

Volunteers and guests of the Montana Rescue Mission worked to help renovate building 21 on the MRM campus in downtown Billings. This building is the future site of a variety of services including a daycare, a woodshop, a medical clinic, and much more. These renovations are part of an $18 million project to unify and expand MRM’s presence. [Billings Gazette]

Ski resort on Big Mountain joins Whitefish’s climate advocacy efforts 

Whitefish Mountain Resort on Big Mountain has joined the city and its promotional partners to raise awareness about climate change through collaboration with Protect Our Winters (POW). This organization launched 15 years ago to advance climate change initiatives. This multi-year partnership with POW is designed to raise awareness about climate change, craft solutions that reduce emissions, and supply residents with the tools needed to preserve their lifestyles and livelihoods from climate change. The partnership will work closely with Climate Smart Glacier Country and Whitefish Climate Action Plan Standing Committee to help facilitate community discussions, education, and increased actions to reduce emissions. [Flathead Beacon]

Fresh Italian food featured at FVCC pop-up restaurant

As part of a capstone class, students of the Flathead Valley Community College Culinary Program have commenced running a pop-up Italian restaurant on campus. Students designed a menu, workshopped a mission statement, tested recipes, formulated a marketing plan, and went through cost and profit analysis before opening the restaurant. After the restaurant closes, students will present in front of a panel of local business owners and investors to discuss the profitability or loss the business incurred. Chef Manda Hudak, program director of the FVCC Culinary Institute of Montana said that the restaurant emerged after students in a world cuisine class were captivated by the idea of the slow food movement, born in Italy. Students decide their trajectory for after graduation, but Hudak shared that she believes the culinary program has an entrepreneurial benefit that teaches students about the business side of the food service industry. “A lot of people in Montana are entrepreneurially interested. They want to open up a food truck, they want to open up a bakery, so we’re giving them what it takes to do that well,” shared Hudak. [Flathead Beacon]

Billings business has recycled 850 tons of worn-out carpet product

During the past 12 years, Carpet One has recycled about 1.7 million pounds of carpet padding. The padding is collected in Billings, then transported to a recycling company. The decision to pursue this action came from both a business and environmental mindset. Randy Mostad, one of the owners of Carpet One Floor & Home of Billings shared, “It’s urethane. You know, it’s a petroleum byproduct. I couldn’t tell you how long (it takes to decompose). It’s not going to be in our lifetime.” Mostad says recycling has decreased what the company pays to have old padding hauled to the landfill. Most of the material gets made into sound-deadening products and park bench planks. [KXLF]

Spotlights

Child Bridge

The Crisis: The truth is there are not enough equipped families to care for Montana’s most vulnerable children who enter the foster care system due to abuse and neglect.  

The Solution: Whether a child’s need is a few days, a few months, or forever our vision is a family for every child. We raise up bold and passionate Christians to do the hard work of caring for these children in our communities. Our mission is to find and equip foster and adoptive families for children who have suffered abuse and neglect. 

Child Bridge has three roles available: 

Human Resources Manager: The Human Resource Manager oversees a variety of processes, procedures, and systems that cares for our most valuable resource, our people. This position is both people and detail, creative and tactical. Human Resources at Child Bridge is all about making the systems work for the people, not the other way around.  

Regional Director: A Regional Director is a vital part of the Child Bridge mission, recruiting new foster families across Montana. Their primary focus is to engage hearts to the mission by asking people to step forward in their scriptural obedience to foster and to empower families with the training and resources needed to care for a child who has suffered abuse and neglect. 

 Family Education Specialist: The Family Education Specialist is a vital contributor to the Child Bridge mission by developing training curriculum that is used throughout all Child Bridge services. Their primary focus is to educate foster families through training and resources that are needed to care for a child who has suffered abuse and neglect and returning families to their scriptural obedience to foster.