Erika, Matt, Matthew and Jack Jennings share a love for mountain biking and volunteering.  PHOTO COURTESY MATT JENNINGS

Finding ways to help

Matt Jennings found volunteering after he started a family

Matt Jennings escaped the ticks, chiggers, snakes and humidity of Iowa, eventually settling in Big Sky with his wife Erika over 20 years go. 

 He is a familiar face in the community for a reason: a volunteer basketball coach for Big Sky School District for the past four years as well as a school board member for nearly nine years. He hits the mountain biking trails with his family by summer and is found helping the Big Sky Community Organization groom cross-country skiing trails in the winter. 

 Jennings was never really exposed to volunteering as a kid, but rather found it later in life. His efforts began when he and Erika started a family. 

 “More the thought to be proactive and contributing,” he explained. “I didn’t want to just sit back and nag at people, I wanted to be a part of what was going on. I just like to continue seeing that school progress and being a small part of it is very satisfying.” 

 He explained that there are many athletic and enrichment opportunities for Big Sky kids, but those opportunities would not be possible without contributions from volunteers. 

 “We don’t have the resources to pay for those positions,” he said, noting that the community is lucky to have so many people willing to help out. “It’s important.” 

 As for himself, volunteering makes him an active participant in shaping the future of Big Sky. 

 “Volunteering just makes me feel better – it makes me feel like I’m helping out,” he said. 

 He shares his love of mountain biking with his son Matthew and is a volunteer coach with National Interscholastic Cycling Association. The Jennings family has met many other families who share their love of biking through the organization.  

 “That’s one of the great things we loved about NICA – we’ve met so many awesome people this year. It’s really centered around family, community, the whole NICA train of thought is to have fun, get more kids on bikes and get them involved with something that they want to do for a lifetime,” he said.

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