Montana Farm & Ranch
21, 25 & 15 Day High School Programs
Montana Farm & Ranch
– Itinerary Overview –
Below is the overview itinerary for the Montana Farm & Ranch summer program. The actual schedule will vary slightly due to the flow of community service projects, the weather, impromptu invitations from local friends and other opportunities that we take advantage of.
*The shorter trips include fewer volunteer days and afternoon activities. All trips include the backpacking trip, though different durations.
Day 1: Arrive at the Bozeman airport, where VISIONS leaders greet each student upon arrival. All teens make a quick call home before heading to the VISIONS farm, about ten minutes from downtown Bozeman. (Additional calls home happen once a week, but as with all VISIONS locations, this is otherwise a tech-free teen summer program.) We have rolling meals and orientation activities as students arrive throughout the day and early evening.
Day 2: Orientation and workshops to get grounded in the experience ahead! Hand- and power- tool training in the carpentry workshop; introduction to permaculture, planting and harvesting in the farming workshop; composting and cooking basics in the food waste workshop; and animal safety, farm boundaries, and hiking protocols in the outdoor workshop. This big first full day winds down with our first Circle meeting, then a hearty cookout and fire pit for roasting marshmallows and enjoying the starry sky above.
Days 3 – 6: Time to dig into some volunteer service work and feel the soil in your hands! Choose from different worksites each day, including sustainable farming at neighboring Rocky Creek Farm, homesteading and building at the VISIONS farm, helping at the Food Bank, and local conservation and trail work. We also launch into our “homebase crew” days with rotating groups that prepare meals, clean and run program errands. After work ends around 2 pm each day, enjoy time for hikes, swimming and other exploration. Regular daily life of the program is in motion!
*Circle meetings continue every other evening throughout the program. Guest speakers also join during several dinner hours to talk about everything from raptors to wildfires, and archeology to modern day Native American culture in Montana. Many evenings also include hanging out at the farm’s fire pit and making s’mores.*
Day 7: Travel to North Bridger Bison Ranch in the Shields Valley, which is rooted in principles of holistic management and regenerative agriculture. Students take part in the field harvest of a bison, done with honor for the animal and the land that supported it. This is an optional activity where we also discuss sustainability and the ethical treatment of animals, and the differences with large-scale commercial production.
Day 8: Sleep in day! After a late breakfast, take part in a workshops where you make wool moccasins and also learn the traditional Native American way of tanning hides.
Days 9 – 12: Work day rotations continue and we also include volunteer time with Hopa Mountain, an organization doing important work with Native American communities around the West. Afternoons after work include outdoor activities, time to prepare delicious meals, exploring town and strolling through Gallatin Valley Farmers Market.
Rotating groups will also end work early one day in order to hike to the top of Sacagawea Peak, the highest point in the Bridger Mountains that beckons hikers of all levels. Rewards include stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges and potentially hiking with a herd of mountain goats. At the end, enjoy a quick dip in Fairy Lake!
Days 13 – 16: With miles of designated forests and wilderness area, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has some of the country’s best backcountry areas. We break into groups for backpacking trips that include hikes through alpine terrain and fields of wildflowers, hopefully spotting an animal or two, and connecting with the land. We sleep under Montana’s starry skies for three nights in backpacking tents, cooking delicious meals, and learning about outdoor ethics. A couple nights are spent at the same basecamp, with day hikes and time to relax, read, and enjoy each other’s company. No previous camping or hiking is necessary.
*The 15-day program backpacks for one night and the 21-day program for two nights.
Days 17 – 21: It’s back to work! Woven into the week’s volunteer rotations are workshops with a permaculture expert who teaches us how to design a homestead that mimics natural landscapes and produces healthy organic food. Another worksite will be the Barney Creek Cattle Ranch, where you’ll help with ranch projects and get a taste of this Western lifestyle.
Day 22: Take on an exhilarating challenge of rock climbing! Professional guides will “show you the ropes,” and students learn climbing techniques while safely climbing in one of the nearby mountain canyons.
*The 15-day program does not include rock climbing.
Day 23 & 24: The last days to wrap up our service projects, complete a big clean at the farm and say goodbyes to community members. We also have a celebratory dinner and talent show, and watch a slideshow from our time together.
Day 25: Our adventure comes to an end. Leaders take students to the airport throughout the day and see each participant off for their travels home. Until next time!
Check it out:
VISIONS Featured In The New York Times!