Montana’s First Lady Nancy Schweitzer visits Ennis

Third grade students from Ennis tour the Madison Farm to Fork greenhouse and outdoor garden Thursday with First Lady Nancy Schweitzer. The students planted sweet corn to come back and harvest as fourth graders this coming fall. Photo by Ben Coulter.

First Lady Nancy Schweitzer passed through Ennis on Thursday to promote the Governor and First Lady’s Math and Science Initiative by unveiling a geological interpretive sign and joining Ennis third graders as they planted corn in the Madison Farm to Fork outdoor garden.

“The Shining Mountains” sign was recently set in place at Lions Club Park on the west bank of the Madison River. It’s one of nearly fifty roadside markers throughout the state since 2006 that highlight the various geologic and paleontological features of the land. On Thursday fifth grade students from Ennis attended the unveiling and took in a presentation on the formation of the Madison Range from Michael Stickney, Senior Research Geologist at the Bureau of Mines and Geology and Director of the Earthquake Studies Office at Montana Tech in Butte.

Stickney explained how the regional landscape was formed throughout geological history by volcanic activity. If some students struggled to stay with the prehistoric timeline, their classmates made up for it with their interest in earthquakes like the one that formed Quake Lake in August 1959.

Following the unveiling of the geological sign Schweitzer joined third grade students in planting corn at the Madison Farm to Fork outdoor garden. They carefully placed kernels in the earth before covering them up with fresh topsoil. While some eagerly dove into the dirt, others tiptoed around taking in the sights and smells of the garden. This fall the students will then return as fourth graders to harvest their crop.

Before digging in to the garden, the students discussed the importance of growing their own food and the value of having multiple crops like corn, squash and beans.

First Lady Nancy Schweitzer visits with fifth grade students from Ennis during the unveiling of a geological interpretive sign at Lyons Club Park on Thursday. Photo by Ben Coulter

With a smile on her face, First Lady Schweitzer visibly enjoyed participating in the educational discussions with the young students.

“They like it,” she said of the hands-on learning opportunities. “It’s a fun way to teach them math and science.”

According to the state website for the program,, the Governor and First Lady’s Math and Science Initiative “invites Montana’s youth to discover the many opportunities to learn about math and science in K-12 schools and higher education, find out about career opportunities and explore Montana’s splendid surroundings.” For more information about the initiative visit

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