Museum Hosts Gardiner Program: “On Growing Up Rural: Local Education for Living in the World”

The Yellowstone Gateway Museum hosts “On Growing Up Rural: Local Education for Living in the World,” a program given by teacher Casey Olsen on Monday, February 16, 7:00 PM, at the Gardiner School multi-purpose room. Olsen will address questions such as “How can Montana schools help our young people see the value in their rural roots?” and “How can a rural education prepare students to contribute to the larger world outside our local communities?”

Casey Olsen teaches 10th, 11th, and 12th graders in English and Composition at Columbus High School in Columbus, Montana. While growing up in the rural Montana farming and ranching communities of Molt and Wilsall, he developed a deep attachment for the state’s landscapes through his family’s small ranching operation where they raised ranch horses and performance horses. Olsen works with his students to develop their own attachments to rural communities and cultures. He combines research-based literacy strategies with place-based education, a combination that grows students’ connections to their local cultures, landscapes, and histories while preparing them for life in a multicultural, globalized world.

Olsen was a top-three finalist for the 2015 Montana Teacher of the Year Award. He has written multiple articles on educational practices and has served as a featured speaker both locally and nationally for organizations that include the Montana Office of Public Instruction, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Writing Project. Olsen has been instrumental in maintaining the Montana Writing Project which encourages writing as a learning tool across the curriculum, not just for English classes.  Olsen currently serves on the National Writing Project’s College-Ready Writers Program leadership team, a grant-funded effort to improve the college-preparedness of rural students. He holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of Montana in English Teaching. Olsen lives near Fishtail, Montana with his wife and three young children.

The next program is on Monday, March 30, “Dispelling Modern Stereotypes” by Mike Jetty, Indian Education Specialist, followed by a Wednesday, April 15 program, “The Apsaalooke (Crow) in Yellowstone and the Gardiner Area” by Dr. Shane Doyle, MSU Native American Studies professor.

The overall program, Cultural Perspectives of Land Use in the Gardiner Area, features expert speakers who will cover land use from multiple perspectives, including Indian Education for All topics. Speakers engage teachers and students either in the classroom or on field trips to local cultural and natural sites, as well as present evening programs for the Gardiner and other nearby communities. A recent Humanities Montana grant partially funds the project. The school, YGM, and the Friends of the Yellowstone Gateway Museum have also committed funds to the project’s completion. Please call 222-4084 for more information.