Wild Rockies Field Institute

Gifts at Work

Each year, the Wild Rockies Field Institute uses donations it receives to provide scholarships to as many students as possible. These scholarships are either need-based, from our General Scholarship Fund, which allow students to have a WRFI experience who might otherwise be unable to participate, or merit-based, in the case of the Matt Thomas Scholarship.

As a donor, it is always nice to see where your donations go, who they have supported, and how they have made a difference. The following are some of the people who have received scholarships from WRFI. Click here if you would like to know how you can help more students to have similar life-altering experiences.

2009: Hannah Viens, University of Vermont

Ashley Dresser"Montana Afoot and Afloat has provided me with an educational experience unlike anything I have encountered.  As a student with a deep interest in environmental issues, this course has allowed me to develop an understanding of human land use issues from a variety of perspectives.  I have also been encouraged to see myself as a part of the solutions to these complex issues.  The scholarship money that I received through the Matt Thomas scholarship was instrumental in making this incredible experience possible.  I’m so grateful that people like Matt Thomas act on their vision for creating a better world.  It has been a gift to have been able to be a part of Matt’s vision and I look forward to fulfilling my own visions for the improvement of humanity’s relationship with the land."

2009: Darren Cook, University of Montana

Ashley Dresser“I would like to thank the Wild Rockies Field Institute and all of the donors that made the Matt Thomas Scholarship possible.  After reading about Matt Thomas and the legacy he left behind, I felt that a scholarship in his name was a great way to honour his memory.  With three of my siblings attending college as well, finding funding for higher education has been hard to come by.  If it wasn’t for the Matt Thomas scholarship to help ease the strain of tuition, I would have missed out on an experience of a life time.”

Other 2009 recipients include Lauren McClean (Utah), Jason McVay (Utah), Logan O'Donnell (Cycle the Rockies), Kady McFadden (Cycle the Rockies), Sarah Hylander (Restoration Ecology), Lindsay Segbers (Restoration Ecology), Kyle Lange (Alaska), Brady Wolff (Summer Semester), and Laurie Strong (Summer Semester).


2008: Sarah Cutteridge, Cleveland State University

Ashley Dresser"I am forever grateful for the Matt Thomas Scholarship, making it possible for me to attend Montana Afoot and Afloat. This course changed my life and gave my degree in Environmental Biology meaning beyond a piece of paper. Prior to this course, I was burnt out and needed a reminder of why I want to work in this field. I got more than I bargained for in a positive way, and am thankful for all of it! I gained lifelong friends in my classmates and instructors. I walked away with a deeper connection to myself and nature. I assess the world differently now and have become a better member of society for it. I cannot put into words how appreciative I am to WRFI for giving me this opportunity, giving my future meaning and memories to last a lifetime."

Other 2008 recipients include Kelly Peebles (Baja), Liza Pulsipher (Baja), Sarah Stock (Utah), Philip Fandel (Cycle the Rockies), Cory Zyla (Cycle the Rockies), Devin Trainor (Cycle the Rockies), Maria Mullins (Restoration Ecology), Kelly Krieves (Restoration Ecology), Elizabeth Allgood (Restoration Ecology), Noor White (Restoration Ecology), Laura Josephs (MTAA), Taryn Longberry (MTAA), and Amanda Tulip (MTAA).


2007: Katie Pritchard, University of Montana

Nicole Larkin"I wanted to do MTAA because I wanted to learn more about Montana, and I wanted to be challenged. The course went far and beyond my expectations. The reason why the course was so great for me was because it was in the context of an extended expedition. The education I received waking up outside, moving and having class outside, cooking dinner with good people, and sleeping outdoors everyday far outweighs the education I have had in a class over the course of a regular semester."

Other 2007 recipients include Angela Stearns (Baja), Wes Swaffar (Yucatan), Katy Kelly (Cycle the Rockies), and Sadie Rusby (Restoration Ecology).


2006: Ashley Dresser, University of Minnesota

Ashley Dresser"I can’t wait to awe my grandkids with tales of trekking up Greathouse Peak through a raging snowstorm or whitewater kayaking down the Yellowstone River in a barrage of hail. I have only Montana Afoot and Afloat to thank for these days that I cursed, but are now memories that I cherish because they have made me a stronger person. I pledge to do my best in life to ensure that when I die there will still be heavenly earth for my bones to lie within, rather than a sea of impermeable parking lots. The knowledge I have gained from my WRFI experience, both academically and spiritually, is invaluable to this task. I’ve still got a long road of ahead of me, but I’ll see you in Missoula in five years!"

Other 2006 recipients include Diana Guillén Vega (Baja), Hsin-Pin Lin (Yucatan), Roxanne Vouk (Yucatan), Megan Flood (Yucatan), Kate Prince (Colorado Plateau), Catherine Fraser (Traditional Knowledge), and Bret Harper (Traditional Knowledge).


2005: Nicole Larkin, University of Michigan, Flint

Nicole Larkin"Spending two weeks surrounded by the environment of Baja California has really changed me. I learned so much about my surroundings and myself. I was challenged physically, mentally and spiritually. I will take what I have learned from here to my other education and open new ways of thinking about the world. I will never forget the people I met there either, because [if not] for them I would not have learned what I did."

Other 2005 recipients include John Hall (Yucatan), Jennifer Surdyk (Yucatan), Marguerite Jimenez (Yucatan) and Maria Nelson (Alaska).


2004: Amanda Hooykaas, University of Waterloo

Amanda Hooykaas"When I began my trip, I flew to Missoula over a great expanse of mountains and wondered…. After two months and hundreds of miles, I no longer wonder. Instead, I see. There is far more to Montana than the mountains I flew over. I now depart over island ranges with towering lodgepole and ponderosa pine. Amongst the bases lie untamable rivers, and beyond them a patchwork corduroy of farmers' fields and ranches. Not only do I leave behind a landscape that has been my home and has challenged me in ways previously unexplored, but with the land I have grown to love and understand, I have also met a wonderful group of people, whose experiences and stories I will treasure long after I return home. I shall forever remember everyone's drive, kindness and zest for learning and for life. The experience has transformed me in unimaginable ways, and I am beginning to understand my place in the grand scheme of things. For all of this I am thankful."

Other 2004 recipients include Meleah Himber (Colorado Plateau), Melissa Giroux (Colorado Plateau), Richard Rangel (Colorado Plateau) and Tara MacDonald (Yellowstone to Yukon and Traditional Knowledge).


2003: Hannah Arkin, University of Michigan

Hannah "Super Vegan" Arkin"I hope the things I learned while on Montana Afoot and Afloat stay with me throughout my whole lifetime. During the course I was challenged to assess the ways I interacted with society and the natural world, and I was able to find a deeper understanding of what it means to be a responsible citizen and steward. Being outside every day, waking up to the sunrise and falling asleep beneath the stars, is really able to change one’s perspective on life. I feel like I walked away from this course with a better understanding of how I should live my life and with a renewed passion to make an impact in the world."


2002: John DeJong, Dordt College

John De Jong"WRFI was an outstanding experience of life in the backcountry, guiding me through the wilderness with knowledge that I can take and use. I felt that this course made me realize that I am accountable for my actions in the world, and that first I need to change. I still love a big juicy steak, but I think more about where it comes from. It was great to meet all of the different people that attended this course!"