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. 21-25, 2023, 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.

2023 Sites and Community Partners

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 Experinece 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.

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 sorting, organizing, and preparing the supplies 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!

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.

curry wellness logoPresented by the Curry Health Center

Be Well UM-During this Big Sky experience you will learn hands on tools and strategies to take care of your wellbeing while a student at UM. You will get to experience a sound meditation and all-abilities yoga; learn strategies to juggle school, personal life, and other obligations; learn tips and tricks for eating well in the Food Zoo; build your own stress busting kit including a visit from therapy dogs; and hear from campus partners who specialize in mental health and wellbeing.

blackstone-new-2023.pngPresented by the Blackstone LaunchPad

Join us for the Blackstone LaunchPad Big Sky Extravaganza! This is open to any student no matter what major they plan to go into or if they are undecided.

The goal of this experience is to provide students with a chance to think about and conceptualize the personal, professional, and academic goals they want to achieve during their time at UM.

Activities include personal exploration games, networking with fellow students and community members, as well as an ice cream social at the end!

Upon completing this experience, students will know more about what the Blackstone LaunchPad can do for them during their time at UM as well as have a game plan of how they can make the best out of their college years to come.

This will be a very relaxed, fun, and unique experience—all are welcome!

um campus dining logoPresented by Campus Garden

Students will be treated to an extraordinary event celebrating Campus Dining's sustainability programs. They will enjoy creating their own pizza in the Rise+Rooted (R+R) pizza oven, harvesting produce from the Iron Griz Garden, meeting the Campus Dining ducks, and learning more about our sustainability programs. This site will be in a garden on uneven terrain with limited wheelchair accessibility and will be outside for a significant portion of the experience. Portions of this experience will have limited wheel and motor chair accessibility, and participants will be outside for extended periods of time.

Presented by the Big Sky Culinary Institute

Did you know the Missoula College has a state-of-the-art kitchen and a variety of culinary programs you can choose to study? Join Chef Bert as he teaches basic egg cookery and breakfast preparations...and who knows, there may be a surprise or two! Our kitchen can accommodate most abilities, although it may be difficult for wheelchairs to comfortably move around stoves and prep areas.

Trio LogoPresented by TRIO Student Support Services

Connecting with a community of support is vital to college success! All participants should have been invited to join TRiO Student Support Services over the summer and, and the goal of this experience is to connect with TRiO staff and other students. This site will feature a combined out-door learning experience on one day and a panel of upper-class students discussing their path through college on the second day. Both days will be engaging, interactive, and educational. TRiO Students will start Fall Semester feeling connected to all the supports they need for a great first year! Day one will include long periods of time outdoors, along with walking on uneven terrain, standing, and kneeling.

Presented by the UM School of Theatre and Dance 

Bring your GRIZ pride with this hands-on session that explores how to use theatre design and construction processes for community engagement events. Students will be working with faculty and current students to build components of this year’s Homecoming parade float for the School of Theatre and Dance. Whether you are interested in Theatre and Dance or any other area of study, the School of Theatre and Dance welcomes you to participate and get to know us!


UM Office of Undergraduate ResearchPresented by the UM Office of Undergraduate Research

Research offers you a chance to explore your interests more deeply and contribute to your field. Join the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR@UM) for an immersive and hands-on introduction to the research process - STEM, humanities, and arts majors welcome! Learn how to identify your research interests, assist faculty in collecting data, learn more about research and scholarship resources on campus, and develop a short research pitch. This site will include long periods of time outdoors, and walking on uneven terrain.

Preeented by the UM Environmental Control for Organismal Research Labsum-ecor-labs.png

The ECOR Labs Big Sky Experience will introduce students to research at UM, especially research examining plant and insect responses to environmental factors. The group will spend meaningful time in research labs affiliated with the Division of Biological Sciences, including the ECOR Laboratories, a new core facility focused on providing environmental control for organism research. The overarching goals of our experience will be to convey the value of research in academic learning, spark interest in scientific process, and help students feel comfortable crossing the threshold into research space as part of their learning at UM.  Students will take a short walk down a dirt road to the greenhouses where they will spend the duration of Day 1.

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

Join us for two days of harvesting and learning about Missoula's local food system with the Environmental Studies Program's PEAS Farm. On Day 1, students will gather at the PEAS Farm to learn aboutpeas-farm-2023.jpg sustainable agriculture education at UM and to get their hands dirty harvesting onions. On Day 2, students will meet at our partner farm, the River Road Farm, headquarters for Garden City Harvest, a local nonprofit that provides access to healthy, fresh food and facilitates farming and gardening experiences for the community. At River Road, students will continue with a harvest project and witness Garden City Harvest's many farming programs that happen on site. 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 and kneel, though modifications can be made.

Presented by the National Museum of Forest Service Historynat.-museum-of-forest-service.jpg

The Museum has a beautiful 31-acre campus that students will help keep beautiful! With brush and limb clearing, pruning, raking, and possible paint touch up work. This will all be outside work, so be prepared with hats, sunscreen, and water! Be on the lookout for hawks, deer, and the occasional fox! All Museum buildings and trails are ADA accessible. The Experience will include outside labor, being on your feet for most of the time, in summer weather.

Griz eSports LogoPresented by Griz eSports

UM eSports represents an opportunity for students to become part of a growing community of people who focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion while playing games with one another and learning how to become leaders and collaborators in many different spaces. Students will learn about the eSports program and how it intersects with the Game Design and Interactive Media academic programs. Students will experience our immersive gaming space in the University Center, create content, and then play a game to connect with one another.

Free Cycles LogoPresented by Free Cycles

Free Cycles always needs and relies on community help! Projects change on a daily basis... however, for this exciting large group effort, students will be focused on reorganizing the community bicycle forest, sorting bikes, parts and wheels, helping with other community bike shop tasks. This experience will involve learning about bicycles, sustainable transportation, and healthy community design. We will work together, reflect together and talk about our societal needs form a prosperous future. 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 sitting down.

Presented by University Center MarketingUniversity Center Logo

Curious about the ghostly encounters people have reported on campus? Our Big Sky Experience will focus on UM's past and how we can celebrate it by bringing it into the future through social media tactics and tours. On Wednesday we'll explore historical photos with a creative twist- the best Instagram caption will win a prize. On Thursday our group will head out for a field trip stopping at all the most haunted landmarks on campus and diving into their history. Portions of this site occur in buildings not readily accessible to wheel or motor chairs.

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 Big Sky Experience focuses on global opportunities with UM through the Mansfield Center, the Global Engagement Office, and the Franke Global Leadership Initiative. 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 the way, students will also learn how they can engage with the world around them through the important and unique opportunities for global engagement offered by UM.

Fraternity and Sorority Involvement LogoPresented by Fraternity and Sorority Involvement

Looking for leadership opportunities, meeting lifelong friends, and fun? Join the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Involvement for our Big Sky Experience.

On day one, join us for a "Greek's Guide to Missoula" tour showing our favorite spots in Missoula for studying, lunch with friends, or grabbing coffee. Day two offers you the chance to engage in a small service project or learn about volunteering opportunities with one of the fantastic businesses you visited the day before. This experience includes long periods of walking outdoors.

Presented by Griz Hockey and LacrosseGriz Hockey and Griz Lacrosse Logo

Learn about the Griz Hockey and Lacrosse programs and how they have become such keystone activities in the Missoula community. Students will hear about the programs, how to be involved if they want to, helping prepare the facility for the upcoming season and get a chance to win tickets to future Griz Hockey games.

University Center LogoPresented by the University Center

Earning your education comes with hurdles and challenges. From balancing your social life, taking care of your physical and mental health, potentially working, doing well in your academics and so much more – it can make the University of Montana and its 220 walkable acres feel pretty big. Through this Big Sky Experience, you will: learn more about the rich history, traditions, and ways to engage at the UM as a student, talk about what motivational/inspirational quotes or sayings have helped you through past hurdles/challenges, practice creating positive/motivational/inspirational statements and phrases that will encourage other, and paint Griz Paws of Pawsitivity on designated sidewalks on campus to encourage and inspire your peers. This requires students to move around campus - which includes being outside for periods of time and may require sitting on/getting up from the ground while painting the bear paws.

backcountry hunters & anglers logoPresented by Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the voice for our wild public lands, waters, and wildlife. While we are composed mostly of hunters and anglers, we are welcome to anyone who enjoys and cares about their public lands. We are dedicated to increasing access and opportunity on public land and ensuring there is quality habitat that supports an abundance and diversity of wildlife once you get there. For this Big Sky Experience, we will introduce you to Missoula's local public lands and waters through a day hiking and a day fly fishing the Clark Fork. No need to be an expert hiker or angler either! We'll have staff on-site to help you along the way. As users of these resources, we also think it's important to know how to speak up to protect the places and wildlife we rely on as outdoor users. As a part of your experience, we'll teach you ways to be an advocate to ensure these places are accessible and healthy well into the future. This experience includes hiking on trails that are not wheel or motor chair accessible. Hikers will traverse varying levels from easy to strenuous.

Prsented by the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Success

Join Vice Provost Leslie Webb to learn about the incredible hiking and recreation areas right in your very own UM backyard.  Each day will feature a different route within walking distance of campus, and will include information and history on the wide range of recreation areas throughout the Missoula valley.  Students will be hiking for three hours each day, will gain about 2,000 feet in elevation, and will need sun protection and hydration.  This experience includes hiking on trails that are not wheel or motor chair accessible. Hikers will traverse varying levels of terrain from easy to strenuous.

all nations health center logoPresented by All Nations Health Center, American Indian Student Success, the Indigenous First Year Experience, and Gear Up

Our ancestors thrived in environments that would be pretty challenging for us today. There were no cell phones to order food, catch a ride, talk to friends, or find a place to stay. If you were cold or hungry, you needed to build your own shelter and potentially hike many miles to secure food. Our ancestors thrived because they shared a responsibility to take care of their community. They were STRONG and RESILIENT and their knowledge still provides guidance for us today. In this session, we will learn about the Indigenous homelands we are on, explore ancestral survival skills, and apply them to college life. This session is geared toward introducing Indigenous students to support services on and off-campus, but all are welcome.

kbga logoPresented By KBGA 89.9 FM

We will be familiarizing the students with radio procedures, equipment, and FCC guidelines. We'll train them on how to be DJs, which they can choose continue after the experience and eventually have a show on air. Throughout, we'll talk about our favorite songs, artists, and everything else.

leadershipU logoPresented by Leadership U

This Big Sky Experience is designed to provide an overview of LeadershipU with a general introduction to Servant-Leadership. Attendees with journey within the story of servant-leadership, realize the importance of presence, and participate as a community as they learn. The theme of the workshop is for students to appreciate the significance of expressing yourself and will provide the opportunity for students to participate in the "I am Griz" campaign.

Presented by UM Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciencesum-virtual-reality.png

Step into the extraordinary world of virtual reality education! No more textbooks and boring assessments – students become fearless explorers in captivating 3D environments. From going inside the cell to immersive learning of a second language, learning comes to life like never before. Assessments are now thrilling adventures, challenging critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Collaborate with other new students in an immersive environment! Get ready for a limitless and fun-filled learning experience that marks the beginning of a new era in education. Welcome to the future of learning in virtual reality! This site will be a visual experience using virtual reality headsets.

Downtown Missoula Partnership LogoPresented by the Downtown Missoula Partnership

This is an emersion into the Downtown Missoula Experience. Students will learn about the rich history as well as get a glimpse into Downtown's businesses and culture. Activities include an Unseen Missoula tour, behind the scene look at the prep for the River City Roots Festival, meeting the movers and shakers of Downtown, and of course, getting some cool swag. We hope that these students will become Downtown ambassadors of a sort, to help others on campus navigate and feel comfortable spending time there.

Portions of this experience are below ground in areas inaccessible to a wheel or motor chair.

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.

Missoula Parks and Recreation LogoPresented by Missoula Parks and Recreation

Give back to the community and explore a new place by volunteering at Marshall Mountain, and area that was recently opened up for public access. The first day we will start a project that helps improve the mountain. On the second day we will finish and then get out and explore the mountain.  Marshall Mountain has hilly terrain and gravel roads making wheel and motor chair accessibility difficult. The project will involve moderate physical labor and the hike will be uphill on a double track road.

Montana Public Radio LogoPresented By Montana Public Radio

Learn about Montana Public Radio, record station IDs, and perform characters as part of a recording of a children's book that may air on MTPR's children's program The Pea Green Boat.

Presented by Missoula PaddleHeads Baseball

The Missoula PaddleHeads welcome our newest University of Montana friends to participate in a hands-onpaddleheads.png learning experience about the business of professional sports! The goal of the PaddleHeads Big Sky Experience is to curate an opportunity to highlight what sport does best for the human experience - build and engage with community positively. Students will get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into providing the Missoula community with a product that cares most about the business of creating joyous memories on and off the field. Please keep in mind that this experience will be FUN, educational, and provide an excellent opportunity to start building a community of people you share interests and passions with. This site is fully accessible to all mobilities, and most of the experience will be held outside.

Present by the UM Golf Coursegolf-course.jpg

The staff at the U of M Golf Course will introduce you to several outdoor activities. You will be introduced to all areas of the golf course business. This will be excellent for business minded individuals, as well as those that like to get their hands dirty working outside. We will give you a look into everything it takes to operate a successful golf course for our U of M Campus Community. And of course we will wrap up each day with some fun recreational golfing opportunities. Experience & Equipment is NOT necessary.  Most of this experience takes place outside.


intervarsity-horizontal-logo_full.pngPresented by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Soft Landing

Students will 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, and the International Rescue Committee), and help plan and host a park day for Congolese and Afghan refugee children. 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.

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. 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.

Homeword LogoPresented by Homeword

Come visit beautiful Orchard Gardens, our 35 income-restricted multi-family rental homes situated on 4.6 acres near the urban-rural fringe of west Missoula. After coffee and a light breakfast at the Community Barn, we’ll tour the property and its community garden. Along the way we will share with you how we use sustainable methods to create homes throughout Montana, support renters in a tough market and strengthen Montana communities. Next, we’ll hear from our partner organization Home ReSource about reducing waste and developing a more circular economy in Missoula. Home ReSource will provide assistance and salvaged supplies as we launch into a hands-on lesson in sustainability. Over the course of two days, we will construct a little free library and food pantry to place near the bike trail that connects Orchard Gardens with the central Missoula valley. There will be other fun projects to work on as well such as creating bookmarks and decorations for the little library by upcycling materials. We will also thread in discussions about the meaning of home, inequity and positive alternatives to trigger terminology. Together we will enrich this little corner of Missoula for local families, children, seniors and veterans for years to come and work toward creating more sustainable communities for all. Participants will be outside for most of the duration except in the event of inclement weather or poor air quality.

sobbacycle logoPresented by SOBBACYCLE

SOBBACYCLE is a beat-based cycling studio combining music and movement to cleanse the mind, body and soul. We are more than a 45-minute ride, we are a group of individuals who come together to experience #sweatbassbliss in a safe space, building community on and off the bike! For your BSE, we will focus on the importance of movement for both your mental and physical health. Day 1 will be focused on an individual project - setting goals and a plan for your fall semester that will keep you moving, happy and healthy. Day 2 will be a group project focused on building community and how to bring the SOBBACYCLE experience to campus and vice versa. Both days will begin with a standard SOBBACYCLE class so you can get a taste of the #sweatbassbliss.  Students will be riding stationary bicycles each day, requiring a basic level of fitness.

Presented by the UM Alumni Associationalumni-association.png

Students will meet at the Gilkey Building in the main classroom where we will open with a presentation on the Alumni Association, and will talk briefly about the work of the office, UM traditions, notable alumni, alum-owned local businesses, career support for students and alumni, etc. Following the presentation, we will walk to Brantly Hall and weather depending, will tie-dye shirts outside. Alumni from the Missoula-area will join us. On day two, students will be bussed to the Bee Hive (a retirement home specifically serving those with memory issues) where they will engage in a small serve project with the residents. The day will conclude at the walk-up, alumni-owned Dairy Queen for a treat!

ELCS LogoPresented by the Office of Experiential Learning and Career Success

Spend the first day getting to know Experiential Learning & Career Success and all the programs and services available to students aimed at personal and professional development. Learn how our department can help you discover hands-on experiences out of the classroom and provide you with other resources to prepare you for careers and any other post-graduation plans! The second day of the ELCS Big Sky Experience will include a field trip to Ecology Project International, a local nonprofit at which students will participate in a fun, hands-on experiential learning activity! While EPI’s programming is largely focused on habitat conservation, travel and science education, this site is great for any student majors, backgrounds and interests (as long as you enjoy spending a little time outdoors!) EPI is an excellent example of an ELCS partner site that provides internships, employment and other hands-on experiences for UM students. This site will walk the Kim Williams trail roughly 15 minutes to get to EPI from Aber Hall, and will walk 15 minutes back to campus after the activity. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for the walk and outdoor activity.

grizzly athletics logoPresented by Grizzly Athletics

We would like to introduce the incoming freshman class to Grizzly Athletics. Coaches will stop by, introduce themselves and let the students know how their attendance impacts the game. We will also discuss how to get tickets, what to expect this upcoming season for all sports and give them a tour of the athletic facilities.

Presented by the UM Office of Legal CounselUM Legal Counsel Lucy France

Students will take a deep and interactive dive into rights afforded by the First Amendment as well as obligations of being part of a community. The experience will include a tour of the beautiful county courthouse and drafting a statement/policy about speech and engagement. Students will walk roughly 2 miles in total on day two.

Presented by UM ZooCrewZoo Crew Logo

Students will become immersed in the UM student section experience. They will learn Grizzly traditions, experience the culture and explore UM’s athletic facilities and spaces. You will meet with athletic individuals, become familiar with UM’s athletic facilities while learning the ins and outs of being a successful Griz fan. Be prepared to be active and have fun, all while preparing to become a future leader of the ZooCrew.

Presented by ASUM Sustainability

Get connected with the campus community through the lens of Zero Waste. A concept that means muchASUM Sustainability more than “better recycling”, you’ll work with UM Sustainability and UM Recycling staff to better understand the challenges and opportunities for addressing waste within local and broader environmental justice frameworks. Join us as we survey the campus, tour Garden City Compost’s municipal facility, learn how to conduct a campus waste and compost audit, and then workshop strategies to reduce and manage the items we found. All participants will become our next change agents for Zero Waste on campus!