This spring Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and Inspired Classroom offered a statewide distance learning program, The Grizzly Bear Challenge, to high school students and teachers. The program involved asking Montana students to share their ideas about managing this magnificent but complex and, at times, controversial predator. The program encouraged youth to learn about the public comment process, providing input and taking part in managing our state’s fish and wildlife.
The six-week program is a problem-solving project hosted on a virtual platform. Students walk through the steps as they react to a real-world scenario and view a video introduction of Montana’s bear managers. The students participate in two Livestream events — one with FWP bear managers, and the other with a panel of stakeholders. They then research, brainstorm, apply criteria, and develop and submit action plans to be reviewed and evaluated by individuals working in the field of grizzly bear management, conservation and education.
Students’ action plans had to demonstrate:
- Research was used to support their action plans and included information about grizzly bears and stakeholders in their region
- Solutions that took into consideration the needs of people and grizzly bears
- Solutions that were adaptable and could be applicable to other communities
- A creative, polished and professional presentation
Corvallis High School presented the best action plan based on the above criteria.
FWP and Inspired Classroom would like to thank the students Danielle Coates, Vitoria Ferreira, Jake Flowers, River Gladwin, Sammantha Shegrud, Harley Wise and Kara Wissenbach, as well as their teacher, Jeffrey Kaiser, for putting so much time and effort into the program. Other schools submitting exemplary work included, in second place, Flathead High School students Mikayla Shinn, Anna Dingerdissan, Mary Staggs, Bethany Lyford, Kaylee Briggs and Morgan Kelly (teacher, Renee Cordes); and in third place, Cutbank High School students Falon BigSpring, Dawson Vasboe, Hayden Harrell and Aryana Black (Teacher, Bess Hjartarson).
The FWP IC Grizzly Bear Challenge was free to classrooms across the state through the generosity of the Montana Outdoor Legacy Foundation, Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation, Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation, TransCanada and Cabelas. For more information on the Grizzly Bear Distance Learning Program, contact Laurie Wolf, FWP MT WILD Education Program Manager, at 406-444-9945 or Lwolf@mt.gov.