MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s Department of Experiential Learning and Career Success has recognized freshman Natalie Temple with its annual Outstanding Student Volunteer Award.
The award salutes one outstanding individual who has volunteered his or her time, energy and resources to making a lasting impact to an organization.
Temple, a philosophy major from Glendive, volunteers at CASA of Missoula, an organization dedicated to advocating in court for children who are at risk of abuse and neglect. She volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, serving the court system by meeting with the children, biological parents, foster parents, family attorneys and the social workers to gauge the well-being of family.
“The role of a CASA is not easy, and Natalie’s passion to help our vulnerable populations shines through,” said Katie Didier, CASA’s education and volunteer coordinator, who nominated Temple for this award. “She demonstrates a true desire to be thoughtful and thorough in her advocacy role.”
Didier said Temple works with three children in the program who have suffered significant abuse and neglect.
“Typically, we would not assign such a difficult case with multiple children as a first case,” Didier said, “but staff were confident Natalie would be a strong CASA and could take on anything.”
Temple said working with CASA has been one of the best challenges she’s ever taken on and that advocating for the safety and well-being of children is something she is passionate about.
“Every child deserves to feel safe and loved, and being a consistent source of comfort and trust for a child who has experienced trauma has the power to change lives and communities,” Temple said. “The University of Montana has been supportive of my work, and I’m fortunate to attend an institution that prides itself on giving back to the community.”
Jordan Blow, AmeriCorps Vista service member with UM’s ELCS department, said they received a number of outstanding nominations from nonprofit organizations this spring.
“We wish we could recognize all of our nominees for the work and effort they have invested in Missoula,” said Blow. “These students represent the spirit of giving back that personifies UM’s commitment to making a contribution to the world around us.”
In addition to recognizing Temple, the ELCS department selected two honorable mentions for their work: Hannah Benshoff, who volunteered at Forward Montana Foundation, which is dedicated to increasing the involvement of younger generations in politics; and Christopher Johnson of Kalispell, who volunteered for the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center.
The ELCS department works with students to enrich their college experience and develop career building skills. It helps students connect with jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, international experiences and student exchanges.