This post is sponsored by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
A couple of years ago we visited the Montana WILD Education Center in Helena and realized what a great resource it is for anyone who loves Montana’s wildness. MT WILD, perched on the edge of Spring Meadow State Park, offers visitors a chance to better understand the fish, wildlife, and ecosystems that make up our state.
During our first visit, Anders and I explored the exhibit hall between a hike up Mount Helena and a dip in Broadwater Hot Springs. On our second visit, we participated in an educational program with our homeschool group.
Montana WILD offers programs for schools, families, and individuals. Those programs can be done both in person and virtually. And, it’s all free!
Here are some of our favorite ways to make the most of Montana WILD.
Visit the Montana WILD Exhibit Hall
The exhibit hall is really the central visitor center for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. While some individual Montana State Parks have their own visitor centers, MT WILD covers the whole state.
Pick up a scavenger hunt sheet when you enter and try to find all the critters on the paper (there are photos so pre-readers can use them, too). There are coloring sheets and other options for making the visitor center exploration more interactive.
Or just wander around getting a close-up look at Montana’s wildlife via the taxidermied animals. We are unlikely to see a bear and cubs so close in the wild -hopefully- so it’s interesting to get to look closely and slowly. There are a lot of native Montana animals to inspect.
Other exhibits explain how Montana FWP does research and management. One of our favorite exhibits is the large freshwater fish tank.
The exhibit hall is open Monday – Friday from 8 am – 5 pm.
Montana WILD Field Trips
For schools, homeschool groups, and youth programs, Montana WILD offers a variety of conservation education programs. These programs are for 4th-12th grade, though any age group can visit the exhibit hall.
Our homeschool group signed up online for two programs since we were driving a couple of hours to get there. They took place both in a classroom and in the adjacent Spring Meadow Lake State Park. We were able to choose from a variety of programs to find something that best met our group’s needs.
Find out more about bringing your group on the Montana WILD website or schedule a school visit, tour, or meeting room through Jeanne Connolly, MT Wild Event Coordinator, (406) 444-9941, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Montana WILD Archery Programs
One of the things I wish we had a chance to try at Montana WILD is archery. It was a little cold during our visit to do it, but I will be sure to sign our group up for it next time.
Students can learn the fundamentals of archery during a field trip. Archery coaches walk them through the basics of how to shoot using a Mathews Genesis bow and Easton Arrows at the Montana Wild archery range.
They also run the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) in which schools can get archery equipment to use as part of their curriculum.
Montana WILD Virtual Education Programs
If you can’t visit the Education Center in person, virtual programs via Zoom are another offering and there are a bunch to choose from. For an owl program, they will even send your class owl pellets to dissect during the program.
Sidenote: The owl pellets come from owls at the MT FWP Wildlife Rehabilitation Center next door. They are sanitized first, of course.
For the most part, the virtual programs can be tailored to the length of your class.
Montana WILD Public Programs
Each month, Montana WILD offers several programs for the public. They might be about birding, fishing, arts and crafts, or something else outdoor-related depending on the season.
Some of these programs are virtual and some are in-person.
You can see the Montana WILD calendar here.
Questions about MT WILD school and public programs can be directed to Corie Rice, MT WILD Program Specialist, (406) 444-9941, email@example.com.
How to Visit Montana WILD (or have them visit you virtually!)
- Montana WILD is located at 2668 Broadwater Ave., Helena MT
- The Exhibit Hall is open M-F, 8 am – 5 pm.
- Schedule a Field Trip or Virtual Education Program through the Montana WILD website or call the number above.
Other Things to Do in Helena
There is a lot to do in Helena and if you are going up to visit Montana WILD, you may want to make a day of it.
In this oldie, but goodie, we describe Six Things To Do in Helena.
I also want to mention Broadwater Hot Springs, which we visit almost every time we are in Helena. It’s one of many hot springs in Montana.
Another hiking spot, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, snowshoeing spot not far from Montana WILD is the Continental Divide Trail at MacDonald Pass. We like to kick and glide on the MacDonald Pass Nordic Ski Trails and snowshoe on the south side of the pass.