Welcome to Your Big Sky Experience

Here's what we have in store for you...

bse-logo-new-2022Embedded within our week of welcome Aug. 19-23, 2024, all new students will participate in a 6 hour Big Sky Experience during the week with a small group of their peers.

This is the group of students you will remain with for the duration of the orientation program, led by your UM Advocate mentor.

  • Students will be asked to select their preferred site in July, so take a look now to see which options you may be interested in.
  • Capacities for each site range from 20 - 100 students, and span a broad range of activities from service, arts, outdoors, entrepreneurship, science, athletics, health, wellness, leadership and so much more.
  • Each site has different accessibility levels, which are noted in the last sentence of each site's description. Please take note of these differences and self-select into a site that will meet your needs.

If you are a student with a disability and wish to request reasonable accommodations for a session, contact Devin Carpenter at orientation@mso.umt.edu to discuss the specific modifications. Please be advised, we may request that you work with the Office for Disability Equity located on Aber 1st Floor in order to coordinate your reasonable modifications. For more information, visit the Office for Disability Equity website at www.umt.edu/disability.

2024 Sites and Community Partners

Additional site activities will continue to be added throughout the summer!

Below, each row includes a short tag line that relates to the Big Sky Experience's topic, along with the campus or community partner organization's name in parenthesis who is hosting students and facilitating the experience.  Click into each one for more details, the organization's logo, and accessibility information where applicable.

Keep an eye out in July for an email asking you to select your preferred Big Sky Experience site.  All incoming traditional-aged first-year students will participate in a special project as part of our week-long Big Sky Experience week of welcome.

aerie-correctPresented by Aerie Backcountry Medicine

Aerie Backcountry Medicine instructors will be leading a session about the fundamental elements of self care and emergency preparedness in the backcountry. Students will learn about bleeding control, environmental exposure, blister care, etc. Instructors can also discuss avenues for training and certification for careers in the outdoor industry.

Presented by the Associated Students of the University of Montana

Day 1: We plan to take the students on a bus tour around Missoula with ASUM executives, Agency Leaders, and ASUM Admin. This will allow them to understand what ASUM runs, how the agencies run, and learn how to use the bus system and Missoula.

Day 2: We are doing a mock senate meeting. This will have the ASUM executives and some senators helping the students out. The students will have a light script to follow and will be shown different issues that affect them, money requests, and shows them how a senate meeting works. Then, they will break out into committees to explore what ASUM senators/SALs do regularly!

grizzly marching logoPresented by Grizzly Marching Band

All students who are joining the Grizzly Marching Band should select this site for their Big Sky Experience. New Student Orientation collaborates with your Band Director to ensure you are released from practice for important sessions, and you will be guided to and from required activities by your UM Advocate mentor.

blackstone-new-2023.pngPresented by the Blackstone LaunchPad

Our goal is to explore the four crucial pillars of an entrepreneurial-innovation skill set, which are indispensable acrossall professions: fostering a growth mindset, nurturing creativity, honing critical thinking, and cultivating leadership

Students will engage in a range of activities designed to enhance their entrepreneurial, innovation, and networking
skills. From participating in an innovation sprint to networking bingo with community members, and even a trivia prize
event—there's something for everyone.

By the end of this experience, students will not only gain insights into the opportunities offered by the Blackstone LaunchPad at UM but also develop a strategic plan to maximize their college journey.

Expect a relaxed, enjoyable, and one-of-a-kind experience—everyone is encouraged to attend!

um campus dining logoPresented by Campus Garden

Come learn about botany on two sides of campus! Did you know UM is the State of Montana Arboretum and that we
grow some of our own food? On day one we'll tour the arboretum, learn about all the amazing, diverse trees and complete a project with the grounds crew.

On day two we'll walk to the University of Montana Campus Dining Iron Griz garden, a half-acre of vegetable, cut flower, and orchard production on the south side of campus. There we'll learn about food and sustainability on campus, work in the garden, and harvest veggies.

Portions of this experience will have limited wheel and motor chair accessibility, and participants will be outside on uneven terrain for extended periods of time.

Presented by the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center

Students will start with a 1 hour tour of our facility, learning about our programs. This tour will provide them with a foundation of understanding how the work they help us with will support the broader community. The following 2 hours of their first day, they will put together EmPower Packs, which is a program we have that provides shelf stable food items for children in our community to take home over the weekend, making sure their nutritional needs are met when school isn't happening. We will put together close to 3000 of these. On the second day, the will spend their first 2 hours finishing up that project. Their final hour will be an educational component that highlights the people we serve, and will also be an interactive session where we ask questions about what they've learned, provide opportunity for them to ask questions, and have a meaningful, values based conversation.

Students will likely be handling food products with allergens such as nuts.  Activities involve long periods standing, but can be adapted for any needs.

boys-and-girls-club.jpgPresented by the Boys and Girls Club of Missoula

Come visit the Boys and Girls Club during our staff and volunteer training week! Attend an informational session along with our team, then, as the training continues, in preparation for the afterschool program, the Big Sky Experience student team will help us in a big way by clearing out our small fleet of 15-passenger vans for the team to run fun and exciting activities at Club! When we finish, we'll celebrate the completion of the project, grouping back up with staff to discuss the experience, take photos, and have a bite to eat!

Free Cycles LogoPresented by Free Cycles

The Free Cycles Community Bicycle shop sees 25,000 patrons a year. We provide free bike building, free use of stands and tools, an event center, and a community center focused on health, sustainability and bicycles. The bike center always needs stewardship and upkeep. This is where students play an important role. For our two morning together, we will discuss sustainable transportation and a sustainable city, organize the bicycle forest, sort bike parts
and help keep Free Cycles Missoula running and pedaling in top form. You will learn about our techniques for growing change in Missoula, and help us out in many different ways.

Free Cycles is accessible for all abilities and ages. Service work will be primarily outside and will include standing and kneeling, but there are tasks that can be performed by anyone of any ability.

Griz eSports LogoPresented by Griz ESports

In this experience, students will learn and engage in esports in a novel way. Students will learn how UM Esports differs from other esports programs in
the country while truly interacting in an immersive activity by creating Rocket League cars and then competing in a small and entertaining outdoor
tournament with their peers.

grizzly athletics logoPresented by Grizzly Athletics

Whether you played sports in high school or just want to learn more about how you can get involved, we've got you covered! Learn traditions and chants from UM's Zoo Crew student section leaders while also hearing from coaches and student-athletes about what makes game days at UM special!

Presented by the UM School of Theatre and Dance 

Wanna get 1000's of likes in a single day?! Join Faculty and Students of the School of Theatre and Dance as they work behind the scenes of their upcoming season! Together you will get to experience what it takes to get a performance up and running that will be seen by 1000's of your peers and community members. We will construct components of the 2024 Homecoming parade float entry. In this hands-on format, you will get to discover the history of parade floats, the excitement of design and construction process, and how it connects and builds a sense of community!

gli-horiz-maroon.pngglobal-engagementPresented by the Mansfield Center, Global Engagement and the Global Leadership Initiative

Interested in international issues? Curious about studying abroad? Seeking to make connections with people from cultures different than yours? This BigSky Experience focuses on global opportunities with UM through the Mansfield Center, the Global Engagement Office, and the Franke Global LeadershipInitiative. During these sessions, students will develop globally applicable intercultural communication skills through workshops and have the opportunities to apply these skills through various activities, including by enjoying Boba tea and snacks with visiting youth from Southeast Asia. Along theway, students will also learn how they can engage with the world around them through the important and unique opportunities for global engagementoffered by UM.

backcountry hunters & anglers logoPresented by Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Love the outdoors? Come experience Missoula's local public lands and waters with Backcountry Hunters & Anglers! Day one will be a hike up Crazy Canyon (the backside of the "M") with killer views of Missoula at the top. Day two will be more laid back, learning how to fly fish on the Clark Fork River at Milltown State Park. Along the way, learn the importance of protecting these places and the wildlife that call it home.

This experience includes hiking on trails that are not wheel or motor chair accessible. Participants should be in decent physical shape and comfortable with and prepared for changing weather. Hike is six miles round trip with 1,200 ft elevation gain.

Presented by the Moon-Randolph Homestead

The Moon-Randolph Homestead is a historic site and heritage orchard owned by the City of Missoula. During their Big Sky Experience at the homestead, students would learn about the complicated history of the homesteading era and about social and environmental legacies of small-scale subsistence agriculture. As part of their service project, students will assist with seasonal stewardship activities that may include gardening, hand tool maintenance, apple picking, and fencing.

Students can expect to be entirely outdoors during this experience. Pants & close-toed shoes strongly recommended. Activities may involve standing, kneeling, walking on uneven terrain through old pastures.

ELCS LogoPresented by the Office of Experiential Learning and Career Success

Are you ready to take the first step on your career journey? Join Experiential Learning and Career Success (ELCS) for two days of hands-on, self-discovery where you'll connect with others, make a difference in your community, and explore how ELCS can help you turn your passion into a meaningful career. We'll learn about ElevateU, take headshots, engage with local employers, and complete a fulfilling volunteer project at a Missoula nonprofit. You'll leave this experience with a sense of accomplishment, new knowledge about yourself and your community, and the tools and resources to find future jobs, internships, and out of the classroom experiences.

Students can expect to walk along paved paths and engage in moderately demanding physical labor outdoors during their volunteer project.

kbga logoPresented By KBGA 89.9 FM

KBGA welcomes you to the University of Montana with an interactive DJ experience. Learn the ins and outs of college radio, get the opportunity to speak on air, and compete in our annual DJ name competition. KBGA is our radio station here at the UM operated by a student staff and volunteer DJs. We man the air waves 24 hours a day at 89.9. Join us for our Big Sky experience to meet a community of music enthusiasts and learn about opportunities to get involved.

For more info about us, check us out at https://www.kbga.org/ or tune in at 89.9.

Presented by the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula

We want you to help us make history at the Fort! The mission of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula is to keep history alive for the education and enjoyment of the public. We do this by preserving the physical objects and stories from Missoula County’s past AND by creating fun educational experiences for our visitors. For your Big Sky Experience at HMFM you will get to embrace both the preservation side and the education side. After getting a taste of the exhibits and historic structures cared for by HMFM, you’ll get the chance to work with artifacts from our collections! This project will be a sample of what our interns and volunteers do year-round at the museum. The second project will be to help us reimagine our Fall Harvest Fest celebration. At the end of September each year we invite the Missoula community out to the Fort for a fun day of historic activities, tours, food trucks, and apple pressing. After an overview of current Harvest Fest activities your group will brainstorm and create an additional educational activity or come up with an idea of how we should update the event. At the end of the second day participants will get to celebrate their accomplishments by making fresh apple cider with our old fashioned apple press.

This site can be adapted to fit any accessibility needs.

Destination Missoula LogoPresented by Destination Missoula

Destination Missoula will work with students on creating various experiences & itineraries for Missoula visitors and various marketing approaches. Students will choose from various types of visitors (Couples, Individuals, University Parents, Prospective Students, Adventurous, History Buffs, etc.) and various types of marketing approaches (Facebook/Instagram, Tik Tok, Print Ads, Billboards, Email Newsletters, etc.) and put together creative itineraries and marketing campaigns.

Presented by the UM PEAS Farm and Garden City Harvestgarden-city-harvest.jpg

Missoula's Local Food & Farm Systems introduces to students to two urban farms. The first day will take place at the PEAS Farm, UM's


Environmental Studies Program's student farm, operated in partnership with local organization, Garden City Harvest. The PEAS Farm is located two miles north of campus and features 10 acres of vegetable fields, native plants garden, an orchard, seed garden, and Four Sisters' Garden. Students will meet PEAS Farm Lecturer, Caroline Stephens, and be introduced to the farm system and get their hands dirty contributing to a farm project.

On day two, students will visit sister farms, the River Road Farm and Orchard Gardens, which are run by Garden City Harvest. There, students will meet with two local farmers, Greg Price and Liam Cody, and work on a farm project at those sites. Through these two days, students will develop a deeper sense for local and regenerative food systems work happening in Missoula.

This site takes place in a large field that is not accessible to wheel or motor chairs. Participants will be outside for the duration, and will be expected to stand, kneel, and stoop, though modifications can be made.

Presented by Marilyn Marler

UM's zig zag trail to the M is the most popular hiking trail in the state! And yes it is part of campus. We'll hike up to the M and talk about the natural areas surrounding Missoula and UM. What wildlife lives here? What plants? What are the big conservation issues of the day and the region? We'll complete 1 or 2 hands-on service projects related to either the M Trail itself or one of the native plant gardens on campus.

The hiking trail is not accessible and in fact requires a certain level of fitness.  Don't forget your sunscreen and water bottle, and get ready for some great views!

Presented by UM Pre-Health Programs

Get ready to jump into the world of healthcare right here on campus. Our hands-on activities are all about fun and learning. From solving medical mysteries to searching for medicinal plants around campus, you'll explore the dynamic world of healthcare while forging lasting connections with like-minded peers. Join us and embark on a journey where learning meets excitement, shaping your future in healthcare from day one. It's the perfect start to your journey here at the University of Montana.

intervarsity-horizontal-logo_full.pngMissoula Alliance ChurchPresented by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Soft Landing and Missoula Alliance Church.

Engage with stories from international refugees in Missoula, learn about local organizations who are advocating for these families in our community (Missoula Alliance Church, Soft Landing, International Rescue Committee), help plan and host a park day for Congolese and Afghan refugee families. Engagement with refugee stories and families will be accompanied by experiential learning programs. Programs will focus on building self-awareness of students’ personal stories and how our stories influence our perspectives, communication, and values. As we connect with refugee families who are facing the challenge of entering a new community, our goal is to process deeper our own need to build relationships and find resources to face the challenges of entering new communities in college.

Students will walk about 1 mile each way to a city park, where some activities may not be fully accessible to all mobilities.

Presented by UM Brand Experience and Marketing

Join Karen Schlatter, UM Marketing's Brand and Student Experience, and Emma Dorman, UM Social Media Manager in learning about marketing and brand experience. Then, show us how you Griz by creating content that shows how you are creative, collective, and courageous.

Creative- Showcase unique opportunities on and off campus (Theatre and Dance, Music, outdoors). What do you think is creative about UM?

Collective – Show us how you work as a team, whether it be in academic setting, student group, or in the Zoo Crew student section at an Athletics game.

Courageous – Try new things on campus and off campus.

Division 1 cross country, football, soccer and volleyball athletes only. All other incoming Division 1 student athletes should select a different site activity and are expected to participate in the full Big Sky Experience program.

All incoming student athletes participating in Division 1 cross country, football, soccer and volleyball should register for this site activity, as you will be occupied with practices and other athletic responsibilities during this time. Your coaches and academic advisors will ensure you receive any pertinent information you may miss during orientation due to athletic obligations.

Presented by ASUM Sustainability

ASUM Sustainability Explore campus community engagement through the Zero Waste perspective, delving beyond conventional recycling practices. Collaborate with UM's Office of Sustainability and UM Recycling personnel to gain insight into the complexities of waste management within local and global environmental justice contexts. Embark on a journey as we explore the campus, visit Garden City Compost's municipal facility, conduct a campus waste and compost audit, and
strategize ways to minimize and handle waste effectively. Join us in becoming catalysts for Zero Waste initiatives on campus!

This activity requires some bending and sitting on the ground, but can be adapted to all needs.  Portions of day 2 will be on non-paved terrain.