It’s time to apply for the Senate Youth Program

It’s still August, true, but October will be upon us before we know it. If you know a student interested in landing a post in this prestigious program – not to mention the $5,000 scholarship that goes with it – encourage that teen to get an application in pronto!

Walsh, Tester encourage Montana students

to join Senate Youth Program

Applications for Washington leadership program due October 10

(U.S. SENATE) – Senators John Walsh and Jon Tester are encouraging Montana students to apply for the United States Senate Youth Program, a week-long leadership program that introduces students to the inner workings of the government and importance of democracy.

Two Montana students will join 102 of their peers from around the country to take part in the conference that will feature guest lectures and tours of national landmarks. Each participant will receive a $5,000 college scholarship in addition to the all-expenses paid trip to the nation’s capital.

The 53rd annual United States Senate Youth Program will take place March 7-14, 2015, and interested Montana applicants should contact their high school principal or Tobie Liedes at (406) 444-2417 and Applications are due October 10, 2014.

Participants are in the top percentage of their states in academic and extracurricular performance, and they exhibit a strong interest in public affairs.

The Senate Youth Program was established in 1962, and over 50,000 of American youth have participated in the program.


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New school year brings new round of federal grant funding

Three cheers for reading and writing!

Juneau and Tester Announce Extension

of $4.9 Million Striving Readers Grant

Forty-Two Schools and Pre-Kindergarten Centers

Able to Continue Literacy Efforts

Helena, MT – Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and U. S. Senator Jon Tester announced 42 Montana schools and pre-kindergarten centers will continue to receive federal grant funding for the next two school years to advance literacy skills, reading and writing for students from early childhood through grade 12. Montana will receive $4.9 million for the 2014-2015 school year. In 2012, the competitive grant was awarded to only six states. To date, more than 10,000 students and 850 teachers and staff members have benefited from the Striving Readers grant.

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Missoula Carousel collecting items for silent auction

There are many ways to support A Carousel for Missoula. One way – the most fun way – is by riding the carousel a lot. Introduce it to out-of-town visitors, spent time with friends and family there, plan birthday parties at the carousel.

Another fun way to support the carousel is coming up next month, on Sept. 19, when the carousel will “celebrate its 19th year of going in circles” with a benefit dinner.

Sponsored by Missoula Textile Services, the dinner will start at 6 p.m. in the Caras Park pavilion and include entertainment provided by Headwaters, food provided by Taco Sano and a bar provided by the Badlander.

The dinner will also include a silent auction – but first, the carousel needs some items to put in the auction. Which brings up yet another fun way to support the carousel.

Clean out those basements, attics and storage units and if you find anything that would make a good donation item, give Carousel Director Theresa Cox a call at 549-8382 or send an email to

You can also call that same number – or just stop by the Carousel – for tickets to the dinner; $10 for kids and $20 for adults.

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Testing the test

This press release from the Montana Office of Public Instruction landed in my inbox yesterday. I meant to share it right away but ran out of time, and since I’m still short on time I’d better just get it up on the site so y’all can read what I read without further delay.

And here it is:

Practice of New Online Assessment

Helps Montana Educators Prepare for 2015

New Test will set a New Baseline for Student Achievement 

Helena, MT – This year, Montana schools maintained their AYP determinations under the federal No Child Left Behind Act from the 2013 school year due to a “double-testing waiver” obtained by Superintendent Denise Juneau. Montana students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 participated in the field test of the new, online Smarter Balanced Assessment aligned to the Montana Common Core Standards. A field test is a “test of the test”, not the students. Because questions may be revised or dropped after the field test, no scores will be reported for students, schools, or the state.

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More “storks”

The stork’s not the only game in town for delivering babies anymore.

Options for where moms can give birth in Missoula are varied between Community Medical Center, complete with the highest level of neonatal intensive care unit available; The Birth Center, with its relaxed, homelike atmosphere (and no epidurals); and having a midwife attend to your bedside (really with no epidurals).

This combination has worked to handle a steady number of  births for several years.

But health care in Missoula promises growth in the coming years.

Health care as an industry is Missoula’s No. 1 labor earnings generator (no pun intended, swear), and as soon as June 2015, Providence St. Patrick Hospital says they will join in OB, newborn and pediatric services.

Although they’ve been mum on details so far, they did say they’ll offer a Level II NICU, a level below Community’s.

Whether there are enough births to go around, without services and outcomes for moms and babies suffering, remains the question.

Babies will always be part of health care and while Missoula’s population isn’t growing quickly, it’s not declining either, said Bryce Ward, who heads up health care research at UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

“It will work itself out, particularly as long as Missoula continues to grow,” Ward said of the expanded services. “More babies will be delivered here and whatever capacity St. Pat’s ultimately creates will probably end up getting utilized over the long term.”

In the meantime, Missoula women still have a wide array of options for how to bring their babies into the world.

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Missoula student scores prestigious Senate page post

Lately U.S. Sen. John Walsh has been much in the news for announcing that he was ending his run for election. He will serve out the rest of his term, which ends in January.

But before that big announcement, his office announced some other big news: Katee Orr, a Hellgate High School student, was chosen to participate in the Senate Page Program.

Only 30 students are chosen each year, which means not every senator gets to make a nomination every year. And senators much make a nomination in order for a page to be accepted into the program.

Orr, a high school junior who is described as an “active member of the Speech and Debate Club, Choir, and the Recycling club,” is also a Missoula Food Bank volunteer. She has also traveled to Arizona and New Mexico to perform mission work.

Now she’ll be traveling to Washington, D.C., for the Fall 2014 session of the Senate Page Program. She will spend about four months learning the lay of the land and “assisting with administrative tasks around the Capitol complex.”

As Senator Walsh said himself in a prepared statement about the announcement:

“Katee is one of Montana’s rising stars, and I am excited to welcome her to the Senate community. Katee will learn a lot during her months in D.C., and I know she will put that knowledge and experience to good use when she returns to Missoula.”

 Congratulations, Katee Orr, and best of luck in D.C.!


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Kids Adventure Games coming to Big Sky, Montana

You know where Big Sky is, right?

No, not Big Sky High School.

Big Sky, Montana, the town that isn’t a town and is located in two counties: Gallatin and Madison. You may know it best by one of its primary attractions: Big Sky Resort.

Later this month, on August 23 (a Saturday), Big Sky will hold the Kids Adventure Games. According to the information I was sent, these games are held at “eight top resort destinations nationwide” and are “the only national outdoor adventure series created specifically for kids.”

Specifically, registration is open to kids ages 6-14.

Here’s the rest of the message I was forwarded, along with a video link!

The Kids Adventure Games builds confidence, promotes teamwork, and is THE most awesome-fun filled-adventure that a kid could have!  We believe in promoting a healthy active lifestyle for kids and expanding their view of what is possible.  Each of the events feature biking and hiking , along with some iconic challenges such as the Zip Line, Cargo nets, and Tarzan Swing.  The courses have all been carefully created for kids by our race director (and renowned adventure racer), Billy Mattison.

As an organization we want to spread the love for the outdoors and help kids challenge themselves in a fun, safe environment.  We also want to create a family friendly event that is inclusive of the community as a whole.  I have attached a video to give you a better idea of who we are and what we do.   I would ask you to get comfortable, turn up the volume, and click here:

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The waiting game

Waiting has never been my strong suit. Perhaps that’s why being a reporter and pushing to get information first and fast suits me so well.

I don’t relish anticipation. Take for example the lead up to Christmas morning. I know there will be gifts, but I don’t know anything past that and mulling the options in my mind while I wait to open the shiny packages is torture.

Waiting for Bob’s arrival is like that. I have so many unanswered questions. What color will Bob’s eyes be? How much will Bob weigh? Will Bob be healthy? Will Bob be a boy? A girl? A hearty eater? A sound sleeper (please, pretty please)?

All the tidying, washing and organizing is finished. The rocking chair and crib are in place. The extra cell phone charger and clothes are in a bag to take to the hospital.

There are no last-minute to-dos to distract me from wondering when contractions will begin. Every time Bob punches, kicks or stretches I hold my breath … waiting … for something more to come.

Granted, I have a week between me and Bob’s official due date. My doctor keeps reminding me that’s just a guess.

Bob could come any moment. Or not.

So far it’s been not … and I’m still waiting …

I’ve done everything I can think of to speed up the process.

I floated the river, twice. I’ve walked and jumped vigorously in water aerobics. I even tried the fail-proof house-cleaning rampage.

Tuesday Jared had a 48 hour reprieve from the harvest field. I told Bob to hurry up and come while Jared was home to save him from having to drive back to Gildford and then home again. Bob didn’t listen.

On the bright side, all this waiting has answered the question of whether Bob will be stubborn or not. Definitely stubborn.

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Back to school? Not yet. Back to the fair!

The other day, while we were in the store, I spied a “Back to School Sale” sign and pointed it out to the kids. Even though they both love school, they cried “NOOOOO!” in unison.

Yes, we are already counting down the days until August 27, when school will begin again, and trying to squeeze in as much camping, BBQing, swimming, and playing at the park time as possible. Sure, we can do all these things after school starts – but it’s just not the same.

This summer is just flying by, far too fast, and there’s still so much my family wants to do.

The Western Montana Fair is always on our must-do summer list, and this year promises to be extra special because it’s the fair’s 100th anniversary. It starts Tuesday, August 5 and ends on August 10.

What sort of things do you consider essential summer fun? Gotten around to doing them yet? Time’s a-wasting!

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World Breastfeeding Week starts today

OK, ladies, I’m going to tell you something you already know: You’re amazing.

Did you know that your breast milk provides infants with all the nutrients and water they need for the first six months of their lives? Breastfeeding also decreases the likelihood they’ll develop ear infections, asthma, obesity and other diseases, while increasing cognitive development.

Breastfeeding benefits you too and decreases a mom’s risk of postpartum hemorrhaging and breast and ovarian cancers.

So celebrate what we provide to our kiddos and what they give back to us during World Breastfeeding Week, which runs Aug. 1-7. Let’s also recognize the importance of protecting and promoting breastfeeding when it’s possible.

If you live in the Flathead, make sure to check out the fourth-annual “It’s All About Our Kids” event from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Depot Park in Kalispell.

The Nurturing Center and the Flathead Valley Breastfeeding Coalition, along with the Flathead City-County Health Department Women, Infants and Children program will be participating in the event. Music, games, vendors, food, raffles, face painting and book reading also are part of the event. HOPE Pregnancy Resource Center, KRMC-OB, The Birth Center at North Valley Hospital and LaLeche League also will participate.

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