School's Outside

nature, education, outdoor school, wilderness school

School's Outside

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Dawn Brintnall

Getting educated in nature. 

Here in Bozeman, we are incredibly fortunate to have abundant outdoor recreation in every direction. With this good fortune comes a responsibility: to educate ourselves, so that we can stay safe, help others who get in trouble, and connect more deeply to the natural world. Here’s a rundown of the various organizations in our area that offer outdoor education.

Montana Outdoor Science School
At MOSS, adults can study useful subjects like plant identification, animal tracks, and ecology in a Master Naturalist course. For the kids, MOSS offers in-classroom programs and field days during the school year, as well as science camps over the summer. In 2019, MOSS inspired over 5,000 children, teaching them to be curious and aware about nature, and encouraging environmental stewardship for the next generation.

Montana Wilderness School
This is a great way to introduce your teenagers to multi-day trips, and help them build confidence and skills under the direction and care of outdoor experts. MWS expeditions foster kids’ outdoor ethics by connecting them to wild places for several weeks at a time. With alpine adventures like backpacking, mountaineering, and backcountry skiing, each child is sure to find an adventure to suit his or her interests.

Yellowstone Forever Institute
The official nonprofit of Yellowstone Park has many year-round educational opportunities, from youth- and college-level programs to adult field seminars. You can hone your animal-tracking skills, learn to ski or snowshoe, or immerse yourself in Yellowstone’s rich geologic history. The Institute has hundreds of offerings that change with the seasons, so check its website often to keep tabs on what’s happening this season.

Crossing Latitudes
This outfit’s niche is combining outdoor education with cultural experience. Crossing Latitudes hosts NOLS wilderness-medicine courses here in Bozeman, as well as programs that take place in Europe and Nepal. These courses—Wilderness First Aid (WFA) and Wilderness First Responder (WFR)—are world renowned for teaching outdoor-oriented folks skills to react to and mitigate wilderness emergencies across all outdoor activities.

Aerie Backcountry Medicine
Aerie is a Missoula-based company offering experience and training in wilderness medicine to military and medical professionals, as well as outdoor enthusiasts. They offer classes in Bozeman and Missoula, plus semester-long programs for college students going into the medical field, including programs in Costa Rica and the Himalayas. Aerie is another great source for your WFA, WFR, or Wilderness EMT certifications.

MSU Outdoor Recreation
For students, faculty, and staff, MSU’s Outdoor Rec Program is a great resource for clinics and courses offering education in avalanche safety, climbing, paddling, and more. They also have a great stash of rental equipment if you’re trying to familiarize yourself with a sport before committing to buying the gear. MSU graduate? Join the Alumni Association and you too can partake of Outdoor Rec’s offerings.

Safety Training by Sport
Some of our outdoor activities require more in-depth training for safety and emergency situations. Learn from the best, either before you take it outside or afterward for ongoing improvement. Climbers can take advantage of resources like Montana Alpine Guides, which teaches a self-rescue course as well as progressive climbing courses. Aspiring kayakers can learn the ropes from the Wave Train Kayak Team, which offers a three-day introductory course. Whitewater paddlers—rafters, kayakers, and canoeists alike—can learn Swiftwater Rescue from Montana Whitewater or Montana River Guides, both operating in conjunction with the Whitewater Rescue Institute.

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