Giving Back

As a land-grant institution Montana State University has, from inception, been committed to giving back to the people of Montana. Community engagement is one of the many ways that MSU students, faculty, staff and alumni accomplish this part of the institutional mission.

Extensive Community Programs

From volunteer work with nonprofits to training for elected officials or partnerships with rural communities to enhance wellbeing, MSU’s breadth and depth of community outreach programs and resources help communities thrive. MSU’s community outreach efforts extend well beyond Bozeman and have helped strengthen communities all over the state and beyond.

Nationally Recognized for Service

In 2011 MSU was awarded The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s engagement classification, which recognizes MSU's commitment to teaching that encourages volunteer service in communities and the spreading of knowledge that benefits the public.



MSU Extension Food and Nutrition and 4-H, and MSU's Department of Psychology received a $1.5 million four-year grant from the USDA to design, conduct and assess a healthy-living program that offers information and opportunities for improving physical activity, nutrition and body image to parents in rural areas.

Center for Health and Safety Culture

The Center for Health and Safety Culture is an interdisciplinary center serving communities and organizations through research, training, and support services to cultivate healthy and safe cultures. The Center is dedicated to applying research to develop sustainable solutions to complex social problems. Our Positive Culture Framework (PCF) provides a process to guide researchers, practitioners, and community leaders to improve health and safety.

Center for Native Health Partnerships

The Center for Native Health Partnerships was developed in response to Native American community members’ interest in starting community-based participatory research (CBPR) projects in their communities and in response to researchers who approached the center to learn how to work successfully with Native communities.

Citizen Board Workshops

MSU Extension offers a number of different workshops for citizens who serve on public boards such as Planning Boards or Conservation Districts. The Board Handbook presents information for citizens, local government officials or board members. The Handbook includes information on Montana’s Open Meetings Law, Code of Ethics, membership liability and Robert’s Rules of Order in addition to a list and description of the major county boards, commissions, councils and districts in the state. To date, 80 workshops have been delivered to over 1750 Montana citizens. Evaluations show changes in knowledge and behavior related to board meeting planning, process, and outcome.

Community Design Center (CDC)

The CDC fosters a collaborative interdisciplinary community/university partnership approach to research and design of the built environment that serves the people of Montana. The goals are to assist community groups and non-profit organizations representing underserved areas or under funded projects and to work with State agencies, city departments, and other regional governmental entities.

The CDC operates as a cooperative design studio utilizing students from the School of Architecture and is administered by a faculty member who is a registered architect. Faculty members from the School of Architecture and other disciplines in the university are often involved as design advisors on individual projects.

Community Profiling

Want to understand how different trends influence your community? Let us help by creating a community profile. We can design maps, graphs or tables using social, economic, and demographic data to better explain your community’s past, present and potential future direction.

Early Childhood Education Distance Partnership Program (ECEDP)

The Early Childhood Education Distance Partnership Program (ECEDP) is a unique distance learning program that helps Head Start teachers and Early Childhood Educators complete bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood Education from Montana State University in Bozeman.

Engineers Without Borders

Engineers Without Borders at Montana State University (EWB-MSU) in Bozeman, MT is a student volunteer-driven chapter of a national 501c3 non-profit, Engineers Without Borders-USA. EWB-MSU is one of EWB-USA’s oldest and most successful chapters.

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

For 40 years the EFNEP has assisted limited resource audiences in acquiring knowledge, skills, attitudes, and changed behavior necessary for nutritionally sound diets. Ultimately, the goal is to contribute to personal development and improvement of the total family diet and nutritional well-being. EFNEP targets youth and limited-resource adults with children under the age of 19, and reaches individuals through a series of sessions and demonstrations.

Focus Groups / Facilitator Training

We offer trainings on how to form and conduct focus groups with an emphasis on developing a discussion guide, analyzing information and reporting findings. Our Facilitator Training program presents the basics of facilitating meetings, covering the importance of ground rules, how to draft an agenda, managing difficult group dynamics, and the many decision-making tools available to facilitators and participants.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Montana State University Extension teamed up with AARP and several other state agencies and organizations to offer support groups and information for grandparents who are faced with the challenges associated with raising their grandchildren.

Human Development Clinic

A unit of the Department of Health and Human Development’s Counseling program, the Human Development Clinic serves as a training facility for graduate students in marriage and family counseling and mental health counseling. All graduate student counselors are supervised by university faculty who are licensed mental health professionals. It also provides low-cost mental health services to the adults and children of the Gallatin Valley, Big Sky, and West Yellowstone.

Licensed Addiction Counselor program

The Licensed Addiction Counselor program is an online program that certifies students who want to become addiction counselors.

Local Government Center

The MSU Local Government Center was created in 1985 to assist counties and municipalities with the Voter Review process whereby citizens vote to evaluate and change local government’s operation. In 1993, the Montana State Legislature formally established the LGC’s mission in the Montana Code Annotated: The Center’s purpose is to strengthen the capacities of Montana’s local governmental units to deliver essential services efficiently and to provide training, technical assistance, and research to local officials (MCA 20-25-237). The LGC provides annual educational and certification workshops for elected and appointed public officials, including the Mayors Academy, Municipal Officials Training, County Commissioner Certification, Montana Municipal Institute for Clerks, Montana Municipal Elected Officials Training, Montana County Treasurers Certification School, Certification Program for Clerks of District Court, Citizen Board Leadership Program and Ethics Training.
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Montana Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP)

Montana Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), a center affiliated with the Western Transportation Institute, works to foster a safe, efficient, environmentally sound transportation system by improving skills and knowledge of local transportation providers through training, technical assistance and technology transfer. Montana has over 70,000 miles of roads in cities, counties and highway districts. Montana LTAP's focus is on assisting state and county road offices and city street departments in road and bridge maintenance and repair. By sharing technical information and improving the distribution of this information, the program promotes efficient use of local transportation agencies' scarce resources. Two particularly successful means for promoting ongoing skills at the local and tribal levels are the Roads Scholar and Roads Master programs, which provide training on critical topics such as road fundamentals, safety, drainage, and snow and ice removal.

Montana Horizons Program

Horizons is a community leadership program aimed at reducing poverty in rural communities experiencing significant decline or demographic change. The program’s goal is to help communities understand poverty, help them commit to action to reduce it and bring about lasting positive change in their community. It is funded by the Northwest Area Foundation and delivered by Montana State University Extension. 35 Montana communities have completed the 18-month program that included study circles, leadership development through LeadershipPlenty, community visioning, and community coaching and action planning. More information:

Montana Nutrition and Physical Activity (NAPA)

A statewide project to prevent and control obesity in Montana through healthful eating and physical activity. To accomplish this goal, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services partners with Montana State University to continue and expand the Montana Nutrition and Physical Activity Program (NAPA). The goals of the program are to: increase physical activity; increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables; decrease the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages; increase breastfeeding initiation, duration and exclusivity; reduce the consumption of high energy dense foods; and decrease television viewing.

Montana Team Nutrition

The nutrition education and training component for School Nutrition Programs of the Montana. A major focus is directed to training school food service professionals in the preparation and service of healthy meals and snacks, recess before lunch scheduling, as well as food safety. They also work on “farm to school” projects to help connect children to their food source and support local food procurement.

Montana University System (MUS) Wellness Programs

MUS Wellness programs are housed in the Department of Health and Human Development, and are dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for MUS employees, retirees, and spouses who are covered on the MUS health insurance plan.

Office for Activities and Engagement

Through MSU's Office for of Activities and Engagement, MSU students identify and commit to provide thousands of hours in co-curricular and/or extra-curricular service assisting to not-for-profit organizations, schools and government organizations across the state of Montana, the nation and the world.
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Public Officials Training

For individuals who are newly-elected to office or those who have been serving for many terms, we collaborate with the Local Government Center at Montana State University to deliver many programs to municipal and county officials and employees. For example, our Mayors Academy/Forum has an average attendance of 50 mayors; our Municipal Officials Training was recently attended by 329 officials representing 68 cities and towns; Our Code of Ethics Training was delivered to over 600 employees, elected officials and board members in the City of Bozeman. We also offer a number of publications including Governing Montana at the Grassroots.

Public Lands Workshops

We developed the 2010 Montana Public Lands Guide in partnership with the Local Government Center and the Montana Association of Counties. This publication presents information on the political and economic implications of public lands in Montana. The publication is used in classrooms, by legislators and local government officials.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education (SNAP-Ed)

SNAP-Ed participants are Montana families with children, youth, seniors, singles, and individuals with developmental disabilities throughout the state. A series of lessons or single demonstrations are presented with practical information and skill-building tips for choosing healthier foods, preparing meals, learning appropriate food safety practices, modeling good food choices for family members, and incorporating ways to be more physically active.

Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems degree program

This major entails a great deal of service learning and internships that involve students in many communities and food and farm enterprises throughout the state. Locally, the Towne’s Harvest Garden provides thousands of pounds of produce each summer to the Gallatin Valley Food Bank as well as to its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members and buyers at the local farmers markets.

Towne’s Harvest Garden

Towne’s Harvest Garden was initiated by the MSU Friends of Local Foods, a student organization committed to raising awareness about local foods and encouraging sustainable lifestyles on campus and in the community. Since the first year of production in 2006, Towne’s Harvest has increasingly become integrated into the curriculum at MSU. Additionally, Towne’s Harvest operates as a Community Supported Farm, distributing produce to members, Gallatin Valley Food Bank clients, and Bozeman farmers’ market customers. The mission of Towne’s Harvest is to be a source of locally, sustainably, and educationally grown food for the campus and members of the surrounding community.

Weatherization Training Center

The goal of weatherization is to reduce energy costs, particularly for low-income families, the elderly, people with disabilities, and children, by improving the energy efficiency of their homes while ensuring their health and safety. The Weatherization Training Center aims to train the professionals who are on the ground weatherizing homes every day. Working closely with Montana's Human Resource Development Councils and our Tribal associates, the center focuses on safe, efficient, cutting-edge techniques to address the health, safety, and energy efficiency issues present in low-income housing.