Fundraising to Recreate

Throughout my college career pursuing a degree in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management at the University of Montana thus far, I have become accustomed to associating parks, trails, and recreation with some form of governmental entity. Cities have a department to manage parks, trails, and recreation; National Forests are managed by the United States Forest Service; National Parks by the National Park Service; and so on. The common denominator between these agencies is a consistent source of funding, from taxes, fees, passes, and permits, which allow us to enjoy public recreational resources.

Conversely, Big Sky’s parks and trails are managed by a not-for-profit organization. Therefore, as I quickly learned upon my immersion into the community as the Intern at Big Sky Community Corporation, funding has to come from elsewhere. Big Sky Community Corporation, which manages over $3.4 million in assets ranging from the gravel on the trails to the bases on the softball diamonds, does not receive city or county funding. We are funded 100% through grants and donations, which to me is nothing short of mind blowing when considering how incredible the Community Park is, how well-built and maintained the trails are, how successful and organized the sports and camp programs are, and how new projects and programs are constantly being added, such as the Big Sky Natural Resource Council, Community Park camp yurt, and new trails under construction, to name a few. The unavoidable fact remains that donations are absolutely critical to both the maintenance of current BSCC assets and the creation of new assets for the community.

The Parks & Trails Gala, taking place on July 19th from 6:00-11:00 p.m. at the Community Park, is BSCC’s only large fundraising event, and is essential to funding the acquisition and maintenance of the recreational opportunities we all enjoy. For all the grants we receive, we match them with fundraising dollars to complete projects throughout the years, such as the entire Community Park. If you’re unaware of what has been accomplished in the past several years at the park, go take a look at the area on Google Maps and you’ll notice a stark difference between what was there when the satellite took the picture and what we have now.

So, with the new understanding of the importance of fundraising to this community’s unique, broad spectrum of recreational opportunity, I encourage you to come celebrate and show your support at the Parks & Trails Gala. There will be dinner, live and silent auctions (with great items for people from all walks of life—I saw the list and want everything), music by the Rocky Mountain Pearls, drinks, a guest speaker, and a guaranteed good time. Get your tickets here and mark your calendars for the event. See you there!

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