Photo by Jana Bounds

Students set to teach the community about the Gallatin Range

Lone Peak High School and University of Montana research continues

This area is a living textbook of science, professor Rick Graetz regularly tells student researchers at Lone Peak High School (LPHS). Just days before the district shut down facilities due to COVID-19, Lone Peak High School students involved in the University of Montana research project sat around a large map in the senior break room and discussed their plan.

The group will be researching the Gallatin Range – something very few locals know anything about, Graetz pointed out.

This project is a continuation of research that was started in the winter of 2019. Students Nadia Benjdid, Evan Iskenderian, Brooke Meredith, and Michael Romney will be learning all there is to know about the area and in turn will be educating the Big Sky community via articles they will be regularly sharing with Lone Peak Lookout.

"I’m really excited to get outdoors, go see the animals and improve my writing,” Iskenderian said. “That’s something I kind of wanted to do this summer. Then, when I learned about this project and that we’re going to get published – I thought that was pretty cool.”

Romney explained he has lived here his entire life, but does not know a ton about the area. He is excited this project will change that.

“Learning about the ecosystem that is super unique to the world – learning about that and being able to live in it is super cool,” he said.

Meredith explained that she moved to Big Sky from the south and is thrilled to be learning about the mountains she now calls home. She is an artist and will be sharing some sketches and watercolors of their project with the paper.

Graetz explained the involvement of artists with expeditions and research is longstanding. Further, the reason Hayden brought an artist on the third expedition of Yellowstone – the expedition that really led to the formation of the park – was that the artist could present the park in color. A photographer was – at that time – limited to black and white. Thomas Moran’s work from that expedition became famous and hung on the walls of Congress.

“Coming out here and really learning about [this area] was really interesting to me,” Meredith said, expressing her excitement with sharing their work artistically.

Benjdid said she is interested in learning more about the environment. “Maybe it will make me more aware of what environmental issues we may be facing without even realizing it at the surface of what we see everyday,” she said.

This project will help students achieve their CAS (creativity, action and service) requirements– a team approach to researching and writing about aspects of the Big Sky area segment of the Greater Yellowstone Natural System, Graetz explained. LPHS science instructor Dr. Kate Eisele helps with the program that is partly funded by the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation.

This University of Montana program called “The Crown of the Continent & Greater Yellowstone Initiative” has a mission to work in communities associated with these natural places through projects with local schools, Graetz said.

The Lone Peak Lookout is honored to be sharing articles and artwork from these LPHS student scholars.

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