The Clark Fork Watershed Education Program (CFWEP) recently received a three-year $60,000 Capacity-Building Challenge Grant from the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation. This grant will help launch their development plan to continue to serve students in the Clark Fork and Blackfoot watersheds and will allow CFWEP to further its mission of “Expanding environmental literacy and stewardship through field-based science and research experiences.”
CFWEP is also launching its volunteer Executive Leadership Team, a group of community members helping CFWEP achieve its development goals. They welcome Montana Tech’s Dr. Steve Gammon, Pioneer Technical Services’ Brad Archibald, Butte Broadcasting’s Maggie Davis-Welch, Northwestern Energy’s Rick Edwards, WET’s Elizabeth Erickson, Montana Resource’s Jeremy Fleege, Montana Osprey Project’s Erick Greene, US Navy Veteran and Southwest Airlines’ JR Hansen, Atlantic Richfield Company’s Lindy Hanson, Markovich Inc.’s Sidni Markovich, Rampart Solutions’ Matt Vincent, and Submittable’s Joe Willauer. Their two-year term of service begins September 1, 2022.
The initial goal of the development plan is to match the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation funding with individual donations and business sponsorships. Successful community investment will open doors to more significant regional foundation grant funding.
“We are delighted to receive this investment. It will help us launch our plan to diversify our funding so we can continue making a meaningful impact for students and their teachers,” said Rayelynn Brandl, Executive Director of CFWEP. “The Communities of the Clark Fork are writing new chapters in the book on restoration and recovery activities. This gift and the launch of our Executive Leadership Team will help us to continue carrying this story long into the future, ensuring a legacy of engaged, informed, and inspired citizens who will care for the billion-dollar recovery.”
CFWEP was founded in 2005 to provide authentic science experiences for the students in Clark Fork watershed that connect them to their local environment. CFWEP is a non-advocational program of distinction at Montana Tech and early point of entry to the STEM pipeline and higher education.
Students across the Clark Fork Watershed, including the rural communities within the Blackfoot River Watershed, receive five days of programming from CFWEP, learning about the mining history and Superfund designation of the region, as well as the remediation, restoration, and recovery efforts that followed.
Since 2005, CFWEP has reached 45 Montana communities and accumulated more than 275,000 student contact hours for more than 75,000 students. Their evaluation techniques have been published in an international journal and presented as best practices at conferences. Their award-winning staff has accumulated more than 15 prestigious awards and includes a Fulbright scholar, winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, a recipient of the EPA’s 2022 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators, and a winner of the National Science Teachers Association Distinguished Informal Science Educator Award.