M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust continues investment in environmental science with $58,830 grant to RMC
BILLINGS, Mont., June 4, 2019 – Rocky Mountain College received a $58,830 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to support research into human impact on two species of native river turtles and river management methods to ensure species conservation.
“This grant will fund Rocky Mountain College’s ongoing research of snapping turtles and spiny softshell turtles as indicators of a healthy ecosystem,” said Dr. Moses Lee, Senior Director for Scientific Research and Enrichment Programs at M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. “As a partner to the Murdock Trust, we are pleased to support the exciting research underway at Rocky Mountain College and all of the work they are doing in environmental and life sciences.”
The environmental science program at Rocky Mountain College provides an education through specialty and interdisciplinary courses in the environment and through an intensive hands-on approach to the great outdoor classroom found in the Yellowstone Watershed. The program includes students developing proposals for ongoing studies, performing research, managing and analyzing data, and presenting results to the public at conferences and in publications.
“This research is an ongoing study which focused on two species of native river turtles to determine ecosystem integrity,” said Kayhan Ostovar, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Fish and Wildlife Conservation. “The grant from M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust will allow students to continue with this research while expanding our scope to cover more waterways on the Crow Reservation and more thoroughly address some additional questions such as the effects of in-stream barriers to turtle movement.”
Students will coordinate and share results with professional biologists from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Crow Tribal Fish & Game Office to help management and conservation for the turtles. The research is designed to help students develop skills related to data collection, database maintenance, and data analysis.
“The native river turtle research at Rocky Mountain College helped develop my skills as a researcher,” said Andrhea Massey, a former environmental science program student and participant in the research. During my time within the program, I gained skills that are crucial to field research projects. For example, I developed working relationships with hundreds of landowners and inspired conservation through outreach. It was the most valuable experience of my life.”
By better understanding the distribution, status and potential threats to these species researchers can ensure they endure in Montana. “We are grateful for the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust’s partnership in this important research project,” said RMC President Dr. Robert Wilmouth. “This grant provides our students with educational experiences that will benefit them for life.”
This grant is the Murdock Trust’s second from its Natural Sciences grants program to Rocky Mountain College. The first was in 2017 for $45,173 to support research into life sciences. Since 2011, the Murdock Trust has made nearly 200 grants totaling nearly $31 million to nonprofits and universities in Montana.
"Our benefactor, Jack Murdock, believed strongly in the value and power of scientific research, exploration and inspiration," said Dr. Steve Moore, Executive Director, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. "We are grateful to be able to partner with institutions that are investing tirelessly in the work of growing our scientific knowledge and inspiring the next generation of scientific researchers and educators."
About M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust
M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest – Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington – that seek to strengthen the region’s educational and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Since its inception in 1975, the Trust has awarded more than 6,700 grants totaling nearly $990 million. For more information, find the Murdock Trust on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and on our website.