UM Seeking Partners for Second Annual Big Sky Experience

A first-year student walks across a high ropes course hosted by Missoula Parks and Recreation, a community partner for the 2019 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 2021 and seeks community partners to help host it.

The Big Sky Experience, part of UM’s New Student Orientation, helps 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 on campus, which has shown to increase retention.

This year’s Big Sky Experience will run Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 24-25. Groups of 20 students, led by one UM Advocate student leader, will join their community partner for three hours on each day. Each community partner determines how many groups they can accommodate, as well as what project and activities to complete.

Big Sky Experiences fall within six categories: environment and sustainability; science and technology; communication and artistic expression; business and entrepreneurship; health and human development; and justice, policy and public service.

One of the 2019 inaugural community partners was Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, who said the Big Sky Experience was a great way to showcase their 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 program coordinator with BHA. “The Big Sky Experience gave us the chance to reach out to a new audience, and many of the students 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 on the web at There is no set deadline, but partners should submit their proposal as soon as possible to ensure their participation.

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,