DOINews: BLM-Montana/Dakotas: A Small Idea That Took Off

Last edited 09/05/2019

BLM's Mike Barrick helping a young volunteer steady a wheelbarrow.
Mike Barrick, a range technician with BLM's Lewistown, Mont., field office, helps an eighth-grader find the center of his wheel-barrel load. Photo by Craig Flentie, BLM.

BLM's Donnie Hayes teaching a group of students how to use a wheelbarrow to move gravel.
Ronnie Hayes (right center), a civil engineer technician for BLM's Central Montana District Office.schools the kids on moving gravel. Photo by Craig Flentie, BLM.

The idea started small – a chance for a BLM presentation to seventh-graders about career opportunities followed by a short work session on the hiking trail that winds its way through Lewistown, Mont.

But it was only a short time before the idea morphed into a community-based cooperative program among the Lewistown Junior High, the Lewistown Trail Association and the BLM.

When wildlife biologist Abel Guevara approached seventh-grade science teacher Steve Paulson about talking to his class about BLM career opportunities in an outdoor setting, neither realized how far the ripples would go.

When the eighth-graders learned about the event, they wanted to be included as well. Then when the Lewistown Trail Association, a volunteer group that manages/maintains the Lewistown Hiking Trail system, learned of the potential for a coordinated work session, they were very interested in participating. The trail system was badly damaged earlier this spring as Big Spring Creek flooded its way through Lewistown and was in need of much repair.

So, as occasionally happens with a good idea, the eventual cast of characters became much larger than anticipated.

On a sunny Thursday afternoon in mid-September, a small convoy of school buses with about 200 seventh- and eighth-grade students, a truck full of BLM resource specialists, a handful of school administrators and teachers, and a good cross-section of trail enthusiasts came to spend the day repairing the damaged trail.

At the beginning of the morning session and toward the end of the afternoon session the BLMers addressed the group about potential career opportunities and answered questions about public resource management. In between, everyone spread gravel, raked out the rough spots, and cleaned the most badly damaged portion of the trail.

The BLM presentations and the trail-work day were good ideas that soon took a life of their own and provided a great public benefit.

The BLMers who participated included Adam Carr, Ronnie Hayes, Kim Albracht, Hillary Rigby, Mike Barrick, Isaac Wald, Pat Hardy, Carl Patten and Steve Smith.

Thanks one and all. This is another example of the BLM supporting our local community.

By: Craig Flentie, public affairs officer, Central Montana District, BLM

Nov. 4, 2011

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