Academic Technology and Outreach and the Master of Science in Science Education program at Montana State University will offer three noncredit courses for teachers focusing on online instruction. Registration is now open for these fully online courses, which will take place from June through August.
"Foundations of Online Teaching" will take place June 7 through July 9. This course will help online instructors improve their skills, maximize student engagement and build high-quality online courses. Participants will be introduced to the basics of online instruction using many of the current pedagogical approaches. The course covers topics such as how online teaching differs from classroom teaching; keeping online students engaged; and maximizing the features of a learning management system. The fee is $275, and continuing education or Montana Office of Public Instruction units can be earned for an additional $25.
“Advanced Online Teaching” will run July 19 through Aug. 20. Participants will learn more advanced features and strategies of online instruction. These strategies include the expanded features of learning management systems; using supportive technologies such as podcasting, webinars, Zoom and other applications; and gamification options. Successful completion of the “Foundations of Online Teaching” course or an equivalent course or significant experience with teaching online is a prerequisite. The fee is $375, and continuing education or Montana OPI units can be earned for an additional $25.
“Teaching Science Online” will occur July 24 to Aug. 21. This course covers the top pedagogical skills every online science teacher needs to facilitate effective and exciting online science learning experiences. Teachers who complete this course will have new skills to identify and evaluate tools and to clearly describe online instructional challenges related to the science they are teaching. They will also gain experience with various pedagogies applicable to online science learning. “Foundations of Online Teaching” is recommended as a prerequisite, but it is not required. The fee is $275, and continuing education or Montana OPI units can be earned for an additional $25.
These courses are designed for both new and experienced online instructors who are teaching at the middle school, high school, community college or university level.
MSSE program alumni can receive a discounted registration fee of $75 for “Foundations of Online Teaching” and “Advanced Online Teaching.” For discount codes contact MSSE at 406-994-5679 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Group rates for organizations enrolling 10 or more participants are also available for “Foundations of Online Teaching” and “Advanced Online Teaching.” Contact Mark Chakoian at email@example.com or 406-994-7957 for information about group rates.
Upon satisfactory completion of these courses, participants will be issued a digital badge.
ATO at MSU works across the university to support and advance its land-grant mission through unique and innovative opportunities for online learning; continuing, professional and lifelong learning; and outreach and engagement.
Heads to the Governor’s Desk
The fiscally responsible Republican budget has cleared the Montana legislature and is headed to Governor Greg Gianforte’s desk for his signature.
First introduced by Gov. Gianforte on January 7, the Republican budget reduces House Bill 2 general fund spending by $145 million compared to the previous administration proposed budget.
“For too long, Montanans have sent their hard-earned money to Helena only to see their taxes increase and spending keep pace. That changes today,” Governor Gianforte said. “I thank Budget Director Kurt Alme, his staff, and the legislature for their dedicated efforts to deliver this responsible, balanced budget. I look forward to signing into law our fiscally conservative budget that holds the line on spending, keeps our reserves strong, preserves essential services, and helps us lead Montana’s comeback.”
The Republican budget grows general fund spending by 0.75 percent per year, well below the projected 2.5 percent of annual inflation and population growth and the 2.3 percent average growth over the last biennium.
The Republican budget increases the ending fund balance proposed by the previous administration from $250 million to over $350 million, and it keeps the state’s “rainy day” fund full to address future contingencies.
The Republican budget is also structurally balanced, with anticipated ongoing revenues exceeding ongoing expenses by over $40 million per year.
“With this fiscally strong and conservative budget, Montana is poised to emerge from the pandemic with strong economic growth and return money back to taxpayers,” said Kurt Alme, director of the Office of Budget and Program Planning.
Montanans will keep more of what they earn with the governor and legislature’s joint budget, with over $60 million of tax reductions each year when fully phased in.
The Republican budget includes measures to make Montana more competitive, including reducing the top income tax rate to 6.75% beginning next year and to 6.5% in 2024, while compressing our rates to two and simplifying our complex tax code. It also triples the business equipment tax rate exemption to $300,000 to encourage business investment.
The budget also provides over $10 million in annual broad-based property tax relief and increases the property tax credit for low-income seniors who are homeowners and renters.
The budget preserves essential services, and simultaneously invests in other key priorities as the governor leads the Montana comeback. The budget provides $2.5 million in incentives to increase starting teacher pay and $1 million per year in tax credits for trades education and training. It also makes a significant investment in the state’s critical infrastructure needs.
To combat the state’s drug epidemic, the budget also funds the Healing and Ending Addiction through Recovery and Treatment (HEART) Fund, introduced by Governor Gianforte in January. The HEART Fund makes a historic investment in community substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, providing $25 million per year of mostly federal Medicaid funds to fund a full continuum of care.
HELENA, Mont. – Montana will regain its second congressional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the 2020 Census state population count released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The count reveals that Montana’s population grew from 989,415 people in 2010 to 1,085,407 people in 2020 – an increase of 95,992 residents over 2010, or nearly 10 percent.
“Thanks to the efforts of Montanans across the state, the 2020 Census shows what we’ve known to be true – Montana is a great place to live, work, and raise a family,” Gov. Greg Gianforte said.
“This is a great day for Montana. With a second congressional seat, Montanans will have another voice in Congress to work on their behalf,” Gov. Gianforte continued. “It’s critical we avoid the traps of partisanship and gerrymandering as our new district lines are drawn. Our new districts should be compact, keep our communities together, and make common sense.”
Montana had two congressional districts until 1993, when reapportionment based on the 1990 population count resulted in Montana losing its second seat.
The U.S. Census Bureau is expected to release sub-state level data later this year. That information will be used by the independent Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission to determine the boundaries for Montana’s two congressional districts and to redraw local legislative districts.
The federal government conducts the constitutionally mandated population count of all residents in the United States every 10 years. States help promote the importance of responding to the count.
“As the lead agency for the state’s census efforts, the Department of Commerce worked with partners across Montana to encourage Montanans to self-respond to the 2020 Census,” said Scott Osterman, director of the Montana Department of Commerce. “The updated state population count is the result of months of all-hands-on-deck statewide work to let Montanans know about the importance of being counted.”
Last year, the U.S. Census Bureau suspended field operations from March to early May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to forming the basis for congressional, legislative and school districts, census data are used to appropriate federal funding. This appropriation helps fund more than 300 programs for things like highway planning, health care, educational programs, and community infrastructure.
For more information about the 2020 Census, visit the Census and Economic Information Center at the Montana Department of Commerce at CEIC.MT.GOV.
Last year’s Montana Farm Bureau Virtual Farm Fair was so well received that the state’s largest agricultural organization is again holding their Virtual Farm Fair April 26-30. The Virtual Farm Fair features lively videos from Farm Bureau members’ farms and ranches. Although the videos are directed toward a fourth-grade learning level, they are appropriate, fun and educational for all ages—even for parents. These farm-fresh videos offer corresponding activities and lesson plans.
Monday, April 26
Calving season on a Montana ranch
Join us for a day in the life of a rancher during calving season. Ranchers have to know just when and how to help deliver a healthy baby calf, and will show you how.
Tuesday, April 27
Making Montana pasta & All-Terrain Vehicle Safety
How does Montana wheat become Montana pasta? Ride along with a Montana farmer as he delivers his wheat crop, then take a spin around important safety tips for handling ATVs.
Wednesday, April 28
Exploring the food chain on a Montana farm
How does meat get to your plate? Take a tour of a Montana family-owned meat processing plant for a lesson on the food chain.
Thursday, April 2 9 (twenty-nine)
The ultimate recycling machine - Montana cows!
Healthy soils grow healthy plants to nourish healthy cows and provide healthy meat for you and me! Learn how cows help recycle nutrients and care for the land.
Friday, April 30
Horsing around on a Montana ranch
Saddle up for a lesson on how to care for and nourish your favorite four-legged friends and learn safety tips to help you enjoy your time around horses!
As of April 26, parents and teachers are urged to tune in to Facebook @montanafarmbureau or mfbf.org. The videos will be accompanied by activities and recommended resources on the MFBF website under MY-Ag. The videos will then be available on-demand at mfbf.org. Missed the 2020 Virtual Farm Fair? Those are still posted, as well, at mfbf.org.
This is an offer for ALL visually impaired peoples 18 and older in the state of Montana.
At NO COST to you, the student, Montana Association for the Blind will be hosting its Summer Orientation Program (SOP). This program is designed to help you regain your independence again by teaching skills inside and outside the home.
The 4-week program will cover how to travel safety, computer instruction, writing alternatives, and so much more. Not only these classes will help, but you will be in a warm, safe environment with people who understand - because many of us have gone through it ourselves.
The (SOP) program will be hosted at Rocky College in Billings, June 14 to July 9. Again, the students pay nothing for room, board, and training.
Here is what one person said about the program: “What a pleasure to see an organization with sighted and unsighted people who bring together a program that enriches and creates the opportunity for sightless and poorly-sighted people to learn and enjoy things in life that they thought were gone forever. What a pleasure to see the transformation in such a short time.”
If you or someone you know and love has lost or is in the process of losing your/their sight, please contact Rhonda Cochrane at (406) 442-9411 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and an application.
The Office of Consumer Protection seeks to protect Montana consumers from, and educate them about, harmful and unfair practices by retail businesses. The Consumer Protection Act prohibits businesses from taking advantage of consumers.
“Scammers are more active than ever and show no signs of slowing down. Montanans can take steps to protect themselves and loved ones so that their hard-earned money and identities are not used by con artists and criminals,”Attorney General Knudsen said.
Attorney General Knudsen encourages all Montanans to keep learning about common scams and offers these consumer protection tips:
1) For COVID-19 related charities, give to an established organization, rather than one that has sprung up overnight. Pop-up charities probably do not have the infrastructure to get help to the affected areas or people, and they could be collecting the money to finance illegal activity.
2) Don’t send money to someone you don’t know, including someone you’ve only met online and over the phone. While real relationships are increasingly being started through online dating sites and mobile apps, it’s unfortunately extremely easy for scammers to set up a fake profile in order to connect with genuine users of the matchmaking services and then exploit the person’s feelings for the fake profile.
3) Don’t send money to a “government” agent who calls and threatens to arrest you. Thieves call taxpayers and claim to be IRS or law enforcement officials. They misrepresent that you owe taxes or other debts. They threaten to arrest you unless you immediately pay your “taxes” through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They often alter telephone caller ID to make it look like the IRS or a law enforcement agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use your name, address, and other personal information to make the call sound official.
For ongoing consumer tips, follow OCP on Facebook.
To report an attempted scam, use OCP’s online reporting form. You can also talk to an OCP investigator by calling (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500, emailing email@example.com, or you may contact your local law enforcement agency.
Last year, 60 percent of inquiries to the Office of Consumer Protection at the Montana Department of Justice concerned scams or potential scams. In 2020, OCP investigators fielded 5,190 inquiries from consumers, resulting in 1,099 filed complaints. OCP reported a marked increase in applications to repair identity theft – 586 in 2020 versus 362 in 2019 – which it attributes to a rise in COVID-19 related fraudulent unemployment claims.
OCP facilitated the return of more than $325,000 in recovered losses to consumers and prevented losses of an additional $470,000 last year. On an encouraging note, OCP estimates consumers it spoke with were able to prevent more than $1.2 million from being lost by proactively recognizing and reporting scams.
1st Choice Realty Open, Call for appointment 278-9129
1st Liberty Federal Credit Union: Drive thru open
Branding Iron Open : Bar 2 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.; Restaurant 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Bowling Alley and pool tables closed
Brown-Fitchner & Assoc. Business by phone or email; Open Mon-thurs 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Fri 8-3
Coaches Corner: Take out, curbside pickup and delivery. Free masks; 4:30 – 8 PM
Conrad Building Center Open
Country Charm Open Mon-Fri 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sat 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. In-store shopping limited to one; curbside delivery
Elings Insurance Office open, appointment recommended
Folklore: Take out, curbside pickup and delivery. Free masks, 7:30 AM – 2 PM
Gary & Leo’s IGA: Open, also providing delivery for AT RISK residents, free masks
H & R Realty Open, Call for appointment 271-2080
Home Café: Restaurant seating, open 6 a.m. - 2 p.m. Social distance seating to be followed
Independence Bank, Lobby and Drive-thru open.
Java Hut: Delivery and drive thru only. Free masks; 6:30 AM – 1 PM
Main Drive-in Mon - Sat 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Marias Greenhouse Open 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. 576-7297
Northern Front Guns and Ammo Open Tues. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Olsons’Drug and Village Drug: Both Open. Both will continue to offer home delivery
Pet Paws Grooming and Supply Open 10 a.m. - 5 pm. Call for appointment 271-7394
Pondera County Insurance: ? Call for hours 271-2034
Senior Center Open for delivery and pick up only. Call 271-3911 to reserve a meal
Stockman Bank Lobbies open
Subway: Open for pickup and take out 10 AM – 8 PM
Sunset Dental Care Mon - Fre 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Super 8: Closed
The Keg: Open for pickup, takeout and delivery 11 AM – 8 PM
The Independent-Observer:: Lobby Open Hours 8 AM - 5 PM
Town Pump: Open 24 hours.
Windrift Hill Open Mon - Fri 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.