Museum of the Rockies has spent more than 50 years engaging learners young and old in the many compelling stories that comprise life in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Museums and science centers have long provided effective, non-classroom exposure to important scientific themes, but as science standards, change and classrooms need more resources; our role becomes ever more significant. Informal learning institutions must accelerate their creation of compelling content that encourages learners to explore and discover. These unique learning experiences at MOR can have a considerable impact on inspiring the next generation of thinkers as 75% of Nobel Prize winners in the sciences report that their passion for science was first sparked in non-school environments (Friedman & Quinn, 2006).
Throughout Montana, MOR is known for a strong commitment to programming for Montana school children. Accessing informal science learning environments is difficult, both logistically and financially for most school systems. As identified in MOR’s 2013 strategic plan, MOR continues to lead the state in providing field trip opportunities for Montana’s K-12 students by offering free admission and partial bus reimbursement for all Montana schoolchildren through private donations in the Opening Doors for Montana Schoolchildren Fund.
In 2005, school visits to Museum of the Rockies were in a sharp decline due to decreasing funding for field trips through school district budgets. In response, MOR generous donors formed the Opening Doors for Montana Schoolchildren Fund. Thanks to this fund, all Montana schoolchildren from public, private, home and tribal schools visit the Museum for FREE as part of an organized field trip. It covers all admission fees and partial transportation costs and relies heavily on the generosity of private donors.
Since the fund's inception, the Museum has welcomed nearly 100,000 schoolchildren through its doors, from as far as Westby or as near as Bozeman.
In the 2013-2014 school year, MOR welcomed 10,417 students on field trips and reached 7,500 students through outreach materials around the state (see below).
This fund and the schoolchildren it supports relies heavily on the generosity of private donors.