Museum of the Rockies

A Greater Appreciation

Returning to the Museum of the Rockies as a college student.

by Maggie Hickman

Growing up in less than a block from the Museum of the Rockies (MoR), I was somewhat of a fixture at this world-class institution. I never got sick of looking at the seemingly endless collection of fossils and artifacts, not to mention the triceratops sculpture that roared when it sensed movement. (Whatever happened to that thing, anyway? It would provide the perfect homey touch to my rundown rental house.) Then I entered middle school, and immediately became too cool to learn about the rich and dynamic history of my state. I was more interested in re-watching The Lizzie McGuire Movie for the umpteenth time than learning about the newest paleontological discovery by Jack Horner. (Fun fact: Jack Horner was the scientific adviser for all three Jurassic Park films.)

Museum of the Rockies

“Big Mike”  guards the museum entrance

Recently some free tickets landed in my lap, and I decided it was time to return to MoR after my extended hiatus. To bring things full-circle, I brought my mom. As soon as we parked, I threw open the car door and skipped to the front doors. Yes, it was as if I was a kid again, with my mom following close behind.

Giving the clerk our tickets, I pondered the best placement for my admission sticker, then promptly  peeled off the back and slapped it on my forehead.  My mom rolled her eyes. “Are you going to wear that the whole time? Maybe we should get you a stroller so I can keep track of you, too,” she teased.

Fossils in the Hall of Teeth and Hornes

Wandering into the featured exhibit, “Geckos—Tails to Toepads,”  I immediately found myself captivated, stopping at every display. I read each gecko’s informational blurb in its entirety, and viewed each species from all angles of their glass enclosure. (Fun fact: Many geckos have “disposable” tails that can be released in an attack.  The broken tail wriggles to distract the predator and muscles around the wound quickly seal torn blood vessels while the lizard escapes.)

Day Gecko

Day Gecko

Meandering from one gecko species to the next, my mom and I  conversed about evolution and whether or not Charles Darwin had written anything on geckos.  We even tried in vain to explain to one another the complex science of how geckos obtained their colors and camouflage.

It wasn’t all adult talk and pretentious references to On the Origin of Species, however.  At one point I squealed, “Mom! Look!  This one has polka dots!” (Spotted animals are cool at any age.)   It was nearly impossible not to feed off the enthusiasm of the awe-inspired children, who were as psyched about a Native American “metate” (essentially a big rock used for grinding grain and seeds) as they were about the hyperactive gecko making gravity-defying leaps from branch to branch.

Kids and adults enjoy the gecko exhibit

Kids and adults enjoy the gecko exhibit

Whether time really does make the heart grow fonder, or my mind had been opened by additional schooling,  I found myself appreciating the  lizards for more than just their pretty colors and their acrobatic ability to hang upside-down on branches. I could now acknowledge the properties and natural processes that create such a unique organism. Chemistry, physics, and evolution—to name a few—all had a part in the gecko’s creation. Wow, Mother Nature is truly impressive.

Some of the many types of gecko scales

Overall, my little jaunt to the Museum of the Rockies was not only a great way to spend an afternoon, it made me realize how I’d taken the place for granted.  How many people can walk across the street and find themselves face-to-face with a fossilized dinosaur rib taller than the average person?  Yep, we’re pretty damn lucky to have MoR in Bozeman, and this time, I won’t forget it.

Yep, that's just the rib bone

Leg and rib bones of a Sarapod (Brontosaurus)

“Tails to Toepads” is one of the Museum’s rotating exhibits, and will only be on display until September 7, 2014.  The museum also includes permanent exhibits on dinosaurs, regional and American Indian history, a children’s discovery center about Yellowstone, a living history farm, and the Taylor Planetarium, which features one of the world’s most advanced projection technologies. For more information visit


Starting Stronger

Insight into the MSU Convocation Committee’s selection for 2014

by Isaac Lorton

It’s not easy for someone to inspire nearly 3,000 first-year college students. It’s not easy to speak at the MSU Fieldhouse in front of 7,250 people. But, it was easy for the Montana State Convocation Committee to choose this year’s speaker, Shiza Shahid. Shahid, a 24-year-old Stanford graduate and education activist, embodies everything the Convocation Committee desires.

Shiza Shahid ConvocationFor example, committee chair David Singel explains, “The combination of valor to [defend education] and… someone the same age as the students was really exciting to us.”

During her studies at Stanford, Shahid, a native of Islamabad, began to closely follow Malala Yousafzai. She lived in Mingora, just north of where Shahid grew up. Malala spoke out for formal education of women as many female institutions were destroyed and girls barred from schools. Malala blogged about the oppression under a pseudonym for BBC News and publicly defied the Taliban by protesting the bombings of female schools and the murders of their students.

While on break from Stanford, Shahid arranged a young womens’ conference for 30 girls, including Malala. The covert meeting was to discuss the continued promotion of female education; as a result, the two young women became close friends and remained in contact after the conference ended.

Malala Fund

Before they became international activists, they were friends

In 2012, Malala’s school bus was stopped by a Taliban member who asked for Malala by name then shot her in the head. She was flown to England for extensive treatment, where Shahid rushed to her support. Despite her injuries, Malala survived and remained committed to spreading her message of education for all. Shahid immediately began managing the media frenzy while Malala recovered, becoming the co-founder and CEO of the Malala Fund, an international organization that promotes female education. Since then, Shahid has been named on TIME and Forbes magazines’ “30-under-30″ lists, as a young adult making an international impact.

The story of Malala and Shahid will make students and community members think about how important education is and the opportunities MSU students have—and why they shouldn’t take them for granted.

Photo Courtesy Malala Fund

Shiza Shahid will speak on August 25 at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse

“We want [the message to be], ‘Let’s think seriously about education. Let’s think about what you want to be doing here for the next four years,’” Singel said. “We want the students to understand all of the opportunities available to them. [The convocation] will sharpen the focus and deepen the appreciation for education.”

The committee also invited local nonprofit organizations to attend the event to promote MSU students becoming involved in the Bozeman community.

“This is a community event,” Singel said. “It is an event, where we as a university, and as the Bozeman community, are welcoming the students to Bozeman and to MSU.”


The Malala Fund advocates female education and empowerment

Shahid demonstrates the world’s diminishing cultural boundaries as she, a Pakistani female, is the CEO of an international nonprofit.

As Malala said, “Education is neither eastern nor western. Education is education and it’s the right of every human being.”

The 2014 freshman  convocation is a public event and everyone is welcome. It will be held on August 25 at 7:30 pm. For ticket information visit

Dancing to the music

The Spirit of Summer

Music on Main defines the summer season in Bozeman.

by Tyler Gobin

Music reverberated off the buildings as the smell of wood-fired pizza drifted through the crowd. The sun sunk behind the brick buildings of Main Street, casting a shadow to cool down the street. People young and old filled the air with a steady hum of chatter as we made our way through the crowd. In front of the stage at Main and Bozeman, everybody was energized and dancing as the Young Dubliners  projected their Irish sound through the crowd.  Another quintessential Music on Mainnot to be missed and an iconic element of summertime in Bozeman.


Starting in late June, when the weather becomes (somewhat) more predictable, locals crowd into three blocks of downtown Bozeman, where bands entertain, food vendors satisfy, and sponsors showcase their swag.

The 2014 lineup does not disappoint, and the crowds have only grown as the summer progresses. So far, each week has seen a tremendous turnout, with Mother Nature’s surprising cooperation. And the night the Young Dubliners played was no exception.

Jamming to the Young Dubliners at Music on Main

Jamming to the Young Dubliners

It began with me urging my reluctant roommate to get up and head downtown. Grabbing our bikes, we pedaled toward the sound of music.  As we drew near, we could feel the energy building. It seemed as though the entire town was migrating by car, bike, or foot toward the pulsing musical vortex.

Is everybody in town here?

Is everybody in town here?

The crowd was a melting pot of ages, incomes, and attitudes; the smell of noodles and pizza permeated the air. Walking among the masses, an irrepressible smile overtook my face. It seemed the whole crowd had a little snap in their step, a thrill to their voices, and a glow to their smiles.

Another perfect summer evening

Much of this euphoria, I found, was people’s appreciation of a fun social culmination to a great summer day spent outdoors. Among other anecdotes, I overheard a couple guys describe their adventure to Ross Peak – it included a bike ride to the saddle where they dismounted and set out on foot toward the summit. They climbed up, struggled down, and loved every moment of it. Now they were here, dancing and laughing and raising beer cups to an incredible day in the Bozone.

For my part, I ran into people from both work and school, and also made completely new friends. Before I knew it, my roommate’s reluctance had changed to boundless enthusiasm, and I could barely keep up with him as he mingled and danced around the street.

Dancing to the music

Caught up in the music

There’s an unspoken agreement among Bozemanites that everyone must go to Music on Main at least once – the idea being, it’s the people who make it great, so it’s one’s civic duty to attend. Now in its fourteenth year, the event has become a summer staple for locals and visitors alike. Kudos to the Downtown Bozeman Association, which organizes the event, and to you – the people of Bozeman – for making Music on Main such a success.

For more information, visit