Mini-Grant

Get ‘Em Outside Mini-Grant Program

Celebrating environmental education, the purpose of the “Get Em Outside Mini-Grant” program is to support educators in getting participants outside and connecting with nature. The mini-grant applicants should highlight their use of funds and how those funds will enhance students’ connection with a sense of place and hands-on learning experiences. With this funding, MEEA would like to be able to provide valuable resources otherwise not available to both formal classroom and informal educators across Montana, fostering excellence in environmental education. This mini-grant program began in memory of Emerson Juliette Graham and aims to inspire youth to learn about and care for the natural world. Typically, the call for proposals are sent out at the end of the year, and awards are made during the first few months of the year. Grant amounts vary from year to year and are made possible by our annual conference auction.

Who is eligible for the grants?

Montana schools, homeschools, tribal entities, nonprofit organizations, and tax-exempt government agencies are eligible to apply.  Educators at these organizations are encouraged to apply, either individually or with a team.  MEEA membership is not required to apply, but we request that those selected for a grant become members.

The 2021-2022 Grant Cycle will open November 22nd through December 22nd, 2021.

Winners will be announced mid-February. Join our Bug Net email newsletter to receive all the updates!


2020-2021 Winners

Self-Guided Tour of the Battlefield- Big Hole National Battlefield – Wisdom, MT
The Big Hole National Battlefield engages visitors from all over, including approximately 1200 students, annually. Visitors to the battlefield learn about the Battle of Big Hole as they explore this preserved historical site. These self-guided tours will provide a safe way for students and teachers to independently learn while encouraging critical thinking and utilizing place-based learning to allow for a deeper understanding of the event and the different perspectives of those involved. Their 2021 Mini-Grant will go towards safety and educational materials such as Mp3 Players and first aid kits. Congratulations, Big Hole National Battlefield!  

Student-Run Wildlife Habitat- Missoula County Public Schools (Hawthorne Elementary School)- Missoula, MT
Missoula Countys’ Hawthorn Elementary works to engage students in various ways, currently through the National Wildlife Federations Schoolyard Habitat program. Their Student-Run Wildlife Habitat, implemented by their K-2 special education extended resource classes, expands their classroom into the outdoors while providing outdoor learning opportunities for the whole school to enjoy. Their 2021 Mini-Grant will purchase items for their wildlife habitat, such as bird feeders, birdbaths, gravel, and mulch. Congratulations, Missoula Countys’ Hawthorne Elementary! 

Montana Audubon Center Partnership- Crow Agency – Billings, MT
The Crow Agency Elementary’s Montana Audubon Center Partnership immerses 5th-grade students in the exploration of the Yellowstone River, as well as the Little Big Horn River and local springs. Discovering the different plants and animals living in riparian areas while engaging in water quality testing and macroinvertebrate studies as means to research the local water health. Their 2021 Mini-Grant will be used to get their students outside engaging in Montana Audubon Center’s Audubon Naturalist in the School program. Congratulations, Crow Agency Elementary.  

Audubon Naturalist in the Schools program – Montana Audubon Center- Billings, MT
The Montana Audubon Center provides nature education along the Yellowstone River to the Billings and surrounding communities. The Audubon Naturalist in the Schools program engages 4th-grade students primarily, connecting them with the place they live through, understanding and engaging both the natural landscape and human cultures. Their mini-grant will go towards sponsoring a class to engage in the program for the upcoming school year. Congratulations, Montana Audubon Center!  

2019-2020 Winners

Browning High School – Wild Clays Program: Engages middle school to college-aged students in the procedures of harvesting wild clay for clay bodies and glazes, preparation, and use in hand-formed ceramic arts combined with AmskapiPiikani and western stories related to traditional uses of wild clays to give students a first-hand perspective of traditional clay practices.

Montana Discovery Foundation- Orienteering SnowSchool Program: Providing the opportunity for students to learn how to find magnetic north, essential navigating techniques, and learning to understand their natural settings through orienteering. 

Absarokee High Sky- Bats in Our Backyard: 6th and 7th-grade students participate in hands-on exploration of the Rosebud River to learn about local bats through identification and location.

2018-2019 Winners

Montana Natural History Center – STEEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ENVIRONMENT, Math): Middle school girls learn from positive female role models about the wonders of flight, with a focus on Osprey and their ecosystems. 

Echo Lake Trail Association

Swan Valley Connections

Wolf Point Elementary School

2017-2018 Winners

Gardiner Public Schools: Follow the Carbon: A hands-on, minds-on field research experience, using digital research tools such as a carbon-dioxide sensor and an oxygen sensor, and technology, to collect real time data to track the rate of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in Yellowstone National Park.

Crow Agency Public School: Native Plant Garden and Pollutant Filtering Using A Hydroponic Growth System: This program will discuss how erosion and pollutants effect the native plants and water while working in conjunction with other school programs to develop a native garden and continue to develop hydroponic growth systems in the school.

Miles Community College: Mapping Oxygen Depletion Events in Waterways of Custer County, Montana: Students participate in targeted field laboratories that measure dissolved oxygen levels and perform ichthyologic assessments.

Blackfoot Challenge: Exploring Fire Science in the Blackfoot Watershed: a comprehensive program on fire science, including fire ecology, working with education staff at the Missoula Fire Sciences Lab to provide lessons from the FireWorks Educational Trunk and the Youth Field Day, for students in the schools in the Blackfoot Watershed.

Frenchtown School: The Buzz about Bees: Students enrolled in the enrichment program grades 2-8 at Frenchtown School will learn about bees and then share that information with the rest of their classmates through hands-on activities.  We will construct a working school beehive, which will allow us to monitor bees throughout the year.

Absarokee High School: Birds in Our Backyard: Students will use the binoculars, field guides and field journals, with the Cornell “Most Wanted Birds” curriculum, to identify local birds and learn about the ecology and diversity of birds in and around Absarokee, MT. The binoculars and field guides will also be used by 8th graders and high school students for their annual trip to Yellowstone Park.

Learn Inc. Missoula: Outdoor Explorations: Get kids with neurologically diverse experiences outside one day a week, 4 hours a day, to cultivate an appreciation for and understanding of our natural world, using Foldscopes, binoculars, field guides, People’s Curriculum for the Earth, and ecological literacy guides.

2016-2017 Winners

  • Montana Natural History Center
  • Seeley Swan High School
  • Clark Fork Watershed Education Network
  • Blackfoot Challenge

2015-2016 Winners

Helena Homeschool Enrichment Co-op:  Life Science Seminar: Nature journaling and field guide creation of common birds at Spring Meadow Lake State Park. Students will learn about local birds through a 12 week seminar, which will include field trips and presentations. Additional grant money will be used to purchase nature journals for each student, which students will use both in the classroom and during homework assignments. These journals will help students learn observation and drawing techniques. The culminating project will be the publication of a field guide, which will be distributed at MT Wild and at Spring Meadow Lake State Park.

Linderman Elementary. Big Creek Discovery School with The Glacier Institute: 25 low-income, fourth grade students will visit the Big Creek Outdoor Education Center for two days/one night, where they will experientially study the elements that make the Glacier ecosystem unique. Through these experiences, students will explore the interconnectedness of humans and nature, with the ultimate goal being to build a foundation of stewardship. This is a rare opportunity for students of the Flathead Reservation to become immersed in the ecology of the world around them.

Gallatin Valley Farm to School. Seed to Snack Garden Explorer Camp: These week-long camps allow students to garden their way through the summer, planting seeds, harvesting produce, hunting bugs and worms, and creating garden artwork. Students also use a mobile cooking cart to prepare daily snacks with fresh produce from the garden. Each camp includes fun and informative presentations, as well as a 1/2 day field trip to a local farm. Not only an engaging summer educational experience, the camps also increase the use and visibility of the school gardens throughout the school year and provide needed garden maintenance during the summer.

Ronan School. Montana Natural History Center Visiting Naturalist in the Schools Program: 50 fourth grade students will participate in the MT Natural History Center’s Visiting Naturalist in the Schools Program. During this program, an expert naturalist will visit the classroom each month throughout the school year and experientially teach students the magic of being a naturalist. Not only will students build a mentor relationship with the naturalist, but this naturalist will also ignite their sense of wonder and curiosity.

Montana Outdoor Science School. Snow School: This spring, MOSS Winter and Beyond camps will experientially teach students the physical geography of the Gallatin Valley and will explore the reasons why water and snow are important. During two spring break camps, students will use snowshoes as transportation to learn about the science of snow, ice, and water. During the planned overnight, students will be challenged to learn how to use an avalanche beacon, analyze the snowpack, build shelters, and will learn survival skills and animal winter adaptations. These fun-filled and exciting camps will develop students’ sense of place for the Gallatin Valley and Montana.