The MSU Extension Service partnered with the Montana Community Foundation to help a number of Montana towns cope with specific challenges for rural areas. Montana State University picked 24 areas in the state for inclusion in the "Reimagining Rural" program.

Tara Mastel, the Extension's community development program leader, said in a recent news release that the program included virtual community gatherings that included both town leaders and rural experts. She said, "The sessions helped show the potential of reviving rural Montana. As a participant commented, rural American is not dying. It is changing, and much of the perceived narrative regarding the decay of our rural areas is simply wrong."

Mastel said the goal was for local leaders to find solutions for the small town challenges with virtual meetings that included rural advocates and experts. As part of the program, the Montana Community Foundation awarded a number of $1,000 to $2,000 grants for projects identified during the year, such a covered location for a farmers market, a history trail, tourism promotion, interpretive signs and community beautification projects. . Included in those grants were Seeley Lake Community Foundation, Stillwater County, Rosebud County, Powder River Trails, Eastern Plans Resource Council, Musselshell Valley Community Foundation, the City of Shelby, Carter County Geological Society, Dawson County Economic Development Council and others.

The MSU Extension Service has offices through the state, including Hamilton, where the office is in the Ravalli County Administration Center on South 4th, with help on agriculture, family finances, family health, food preservation and the 4-H program. Right now, the staff is promoting their WINter Wellness program, to help people be more active during the winter season. If you need more information about that, call 375-6611.

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