Earth Day will be 50 years old in April 2020. In celebration, the University of Montana is offering a lecture and action series that will spotlight people and groups working to build a more sustainable Missoula. The lecture series is free and open to the public. Pencil these in on your new 2020 calendar and join us! 

Lectures will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. every Thursday in UM’s Gallagher Business Building Room 122. Optional field trips and tours will be offered outside of class.

UM students can enroll for credit (ENST 391/595, 1 credit, CRN34840). Students will complete sustainability action projects during the semester. All attendees are encouraged to help with ongoing community projects described during the lecture series. 

Community sustainability efforts will be presented by panels (followed by Q&A) in the topic areas below: 

Jan. 16: “Sustainability at UM” – Panelists from UM’s Sustainability Office, waste minimization and recycling programs; UM Facilities’ green architect and energy efficiency engineers, UM Campus Dining’s sustainability program and ASUM Transportation.

Jan. 23: “Sustainability in Local Government” – Panelists: Missoula city/county sustainability coordinators Chase Jones and Diana Maneta.

Jan. 30: “Sustainable Shelter” – Panelists from Homeword, Stockman Bank, St. Patrick Hospital, Missoula Bone & Joint, UM FLAT and UM Sustainable Construction program.

Feb. 6: “Sustainable Transportation” – Panelists from  Missoula in Motion, the Missoula Institute for Sustainable Transportation/FreeCycles, Missoula transportation planners and ASUM transportation.

Feb. 13: “Sustainable Food” – Panelists from Garden City Harvest, Western Montana Growers Cooperative, Community Food & Agriculture Coalition. 

Feb. 20: “Sustaining Water and Air” -- Panelists from the Missoula Health Department, Clark Fork Coalition, Earthworks, and the Clark Fork Kootenai River Basin Council.  

Feb. 27: “Sustainable Energy and Efficiency” – Panelists from the Montana Renewable Energy Association (MREA), Climate Smart Missoula, Sunrise and 350 Montana. 

March 5: “Zero Waste” – Panelists from Home ReSource, Missoula Urban Demonstration Project, Recycling Works, Missoula Compost Collection. 

March 12: “Restoring/Sustaining Ecosystems/Economies” – Panelists from Big Hole Watershed Committee, Trout Unlimited, Geum Environmental, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

March 19: Spring Break.  Class will not meet.

March 26: “Faith Community Seeks Sustainability” –Panelists from Faith and Climate Action, Emmaus Campus Ministry, Montana Interfaith Power & Light and Unitarian Fellowship. 

April 2: “Financing a Sustainable Economy” – Panelists from MoFi (formerly MT Community Development Corp.), Clearwater Credit Union, Williamsworks, and UM Business School’s sustainable business program.

April 9: “Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Sustainability” – Panelists include Rosalyn LaPier, Rose Bear Don't Walk and QJ Means of UM Environmental Studies

April 16: “Family Planning for Sustainability” – Panelists from UM Women’s Resource Center and Blue Mountain Clinic; Curry Health Center and Planned Parenthood Advocates invited. 

April 23:  Earth Week – Students will complete their sustainability action projects

April 30 and May 7: Students will give presentations on their action projects.

Some field trips and tours planned for spring 2020 include: 

  • Missoula’s Zero-waste Wastewater Treatment Plant; composting facility and tree plantation
  • UM’s LEED buildings, Stockman Bank, Homeword projects, Missoula Bone & Joint Surgery Center
  • FreeCycles; Home ReSource; Missoula Urban Demonstration Project; Recycling Works
  • UM PEAS farm; campus food gardens & native plant gardens; and Winter Farmers Market 
  • University Congregational Church and St Paul Lutheran Church

Dates of trips will be announced during the lecture series. 

2020 will be a big year for climate, energy and sustainability education and action, and we need everyone.

For more information on UM’s Seeking Sustainability Lecture/Action series, contact  or 406-243-5153

Vicki Watson is Professor Emeritus of UM Environmental Studies.

This Sustainable Missoula column is brought to you – via the Missoula Current – every Friday by Climate Smart Missoula and Home ReSource.

Upcoming Sustainability Events

Now through January. Dear Tomorrow Missoula letter writing project, sponsored by Climate Smart Missoula and Families for a Livable Climate. Dear Tomorrow is a global storytelling project focused on sharing personal messages about climate change to inspire action. Details here.

Sunday, January 12. Fixit Clinic. Coaching & tools for sewing/mending, 3-D printing, soldering & more. Registration encouraged here. Home Resource Community Room, 1515 Wyoming St. 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Free event. More info here.

January 13. City Club Missoula: Longer Wildfire Seasons, More Floods, More Crazy Weather…How Do We Prepare for Our Changing Climate? Climate Smart Missoula, Missoula County, and City of Missoula will release Missoula’s Climate Resiliency Plan, discuss insights and launch a new community conversation. 11:30am – 1pm, DoubleTree Hotel conference room. More information and tickets HERE.

January 13. Climate Change and how it affects our native plants and animals. Free talk by Kelsey Jencso, MT state climatologist & lead author of Montana’s Climate Assessment. 7 pm, UM’s Gallagher Business Building room 123.

January 16. UM’s Seeking Sustainability Lecture Series kicks off. Meets Thursdays 7 - 8:30 pm Jan 16 - May 7 in Gallagher Business Building room 122. Open to the public. Learn how UM, local government, nonprofits and businesses are working together to create a more sustainable community and how you can help. For more, email

February 19. The Big Climate Change Event. Join us at the Wilma. 7pm. Save the date and learn more