UM Team Awarded $450K for Climate Resilience Project

Team members of the new UM-led climate initiative ResilienceMT include Beth Covitt,  head of science education research and evaluation with spectrUM Discovery Area; Robin Saha (center), associate professor and director of UM’s Environmental Studies Program; and Peter Reynolds, a community partner and board chair of the Bitterroot Climate Action Group.

MISSOULA – With a $450,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Montana and statewide partner organizations are launching ResilienceMT. The project will support community climate resilience in Montana’s rural and tribal communities that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Working with the Blackfeet Nation, Fort Belknap Indian Community and communities in the Bitterroot Valley, ResilienceMT will engage high school students, their teachers and families through a mobile, interactive educational exhibit. ResilienceMT also will conduct forums to support communities’ climate resilience efforts, networking and resource-sharing across the state.

The project team is led by principal investigator Robin Saha, UM associate professor of environmental studies, in collaboration with Beth Covitt, head of STEM education research and evaluation at spectrUM Discovery Area, and Paul Lachapelle, professor of political science at Montana State University.

The three-year project will support community climate resilience capacity by enhancing communities’ understanding of climate risks related to wildfire, drought, extreme heat and flooding, as well as their ability to respond with community-based adaptation strategies.

As part of the program, a ResilienceMT Mobile Climate Resilience Exhibit will travel the state visiting community schools in Browning, Hays, Corvallis and Hamilton.

“We’re excited to collaborate with teachers to develop activities ranging from exploring community climate impacts and responses using digital story maps, to building model fire-ready houses, to experimenting with DIY air filters to improve indoor air quality during smoke season,” Covitt said.

Dennis Longknife, climate change coordinator for the Fort Belknap Indian Community and a ReslienceMT partner, said this program will be valuable as his tribe revises its draft Climate Adaption Plan, which is funded through the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“ResilienceMT will really help the community get more involved and more aware of climate risks, and our resilience projects now planned and under way,” Longknife said.

Saha noted it’s important to get this work started as soon as possible, because partner communities are already experiencing negative effects of climate change.

“The ResilienceMT project will help them better understand these impacts in light of historical trends, consider future projections and community vulnerabilities and develop strategies for increasing resilience to future changes,” Saha said.

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Contact: Robin Saha, UM environmental studies associate professor, 406-243-6285,; Beth Covitt, head of STEM education research and evaluation, spectrUM Discovery Area, 406-243-4828,