Mountain Air

Glacier Institute's Blog


For Immediate Release

The Glacier Institute has received a $250,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to be used for renovations to the home base of the institute’s outdoor camps and programs. The grant brings recent total fundraising to $1.45 million and puts the Glacier Institute within striking distance of completing the $1.7 million Restoration Big Creek campaign.

Based in Columbia Falls, the Glacier Institute offers programs for children, families, and adults including guided day hikes, field courses, camps, and field trips. As the official educational partner of Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest, the institute is well-recognized as the area’s leader in outdoor education.

Each year, over 1,500 local kids participate in programs like wolf tracking, naturalist sessions and orienteering, winter ecology and more. Since programs began in 1983, over 32,000 kids have taken part in the Glacier Institute’s camps, courses, and school trips.

“We are so grateful to the Murdock Trust for the support and the belief in our work here at the Glacier Institute,” said Anthony Nelson, the institute’s executive director.

The Murdock Trust invests in capacity-building projects at nonprofits across the Pacific Northwest. Grants are only awarded after a rigorous selection and vetting process.

The Glacier Institute launched that campaign just eighteen months ago to expand its programs and renovate the Big Creek Outdoor Education Center, a US Forest Service ranger station established in 1911 up the North Fork of the Flathead River that is the home base for the institute’s naturalist camps and courses for youth and local schools.

Thanks to early support and enthusiasm for the campaign, the Glacier Institute has already started construction on key projects. Renovations are complete on the staff cabin and the camp dining hall and kitchen, improving living conditions for all. Remaining funds and the Murdock Trust grant will pay for renovations to the camper cabins so that the institute can expand programs and offer courses in the winter.

“At Glacier Institute, we are committed to getting kids outside exploring, and learning about this incredible place we get to call home,” said Madyson Rigg, Glacier Institute’s new development director. Rigg is also the reigning Miss Montana.

“We are inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Rigg, “and we are grateful that this focus is inspiring others to support our work.”

In addition to the Murdock Trust grant, the Glacier Institute has received numerous leadership gifts including $200,000 from Benji Griffith, $100,000 from Tim Cook, and major gifts from Chris and Monica Graff, Bob and Pat Jepsen and Connie Lane. Additionally, the Glacier Institute received a special Major Gift from the Whitefish Community Foundation of $50,000– the largest Major Grant they have ever awarded. Major in-kind support came from Martel Construction, Thousand Hills Landworks, AlumaGlass, Hilliard Construction, and Empire Building Materials, among others.

“Every gift is a testament to a broad-based belief in the Glacier Institute, and the life-changing experiences we are creating for kids at Big Creek,” said Nelson. “We’re honored to have the support of so many individuals and organizations that recognize the importance of our work.”

To learn more or to support the Glacier Institute, visit or call (406) 755-1211.

Madyson Rigg

The Glacier Institute is a Montana non-profit committed to strengthening connections to the natural world through outdoor education. As the official education partner of Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest, the Glacier Institute is well-recognized as the Flathead Valley’s leader in outdoor education with courses and camps for area youth, adults, and families. It’s programs inspire connections to the natural world and create meaningful experiences that broaden understanding and cultivate critical thinking. For more information, visit


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