UM Seeks Partners for Second Annual Big Sky Experience

MISSOULA – The University of Montana will hold its second annual Big Sky Experience, a team-based immersion opportunity for new undergraduate students, at the beginning of fall semester 2020 and seeks community partners to help host it.

The Big Sky Experience, a part of New Student Orientation, is designed to help students build connections and friendships with one another, as well as become integrated within the larger Missoula community. The events aim to increase students’ sense of belonging and engagement in their first few days, which increases retention over time.

Incoming students pose for a photo along the river during a fishing trip
New UM students participate in an event hosted by Backcountry Hunters and Anglers during last year’s Big Sky Experience.

This year’s Big Sky Experience will run Tuesday through Thursday, Aug. 25-27. Groups of 20 students, led by a UM Advocate student leader, will join their community partner for three hours each day. Each community partner determines how many groups it can accommodate, as well as the project and activities to complete.

Big Sky Experiences can fall within any of five categories: outdoors; science and technology; arts and culture; entrepreneurship; or diversity, service and leadership. One of last year’s community partners, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, found the Big Sky Experience to be a great way to showcase its conservation mission and collaborate with UM to immerse students in the local community.

“As an organization that focuses on public land, we led students on a hike in the Pattee Canyon area, taught them how to fly fish on the Clark Fork River and involved them in a trash pickup to demonstrate the importance of stewardship and leave no trace ethics,” said Kylie Schumacher, collegiate coordinator at Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “The Big Sky Experience gave us the chance to reach out to a new audience, many of which joined our college club and organization after the event and remain engaged today.”

Any community partners interested in hosting a Big Sky Experience can complete a project proposal online.

For more information call Devin Carpenter at 406-243-2332 or email


Contact: Devin Carpenter, director of New Student Success, UM Office of the Vice Provost for Student Success, 406-243-2332,