Providing    the    Resources    Needed     for    Success    in    Higher    Education

Verlanic Inducted as Council for Opportunity in Education Board Chair Elect

The Council for Opportunity in Education is pleased to announce that Amy L. Verlanic, Executive Director of The Institute for Educational Opportunities at Montana Tech, was inducted as the Council’s Board Chair Elect on September 8 at the Council’s annual conference in New York City, NY. Verlanic, an Anaconda, MT native, is the youngest professional and only woman from west of the Mississippi River to have held this prestigious national office. Her charge will include representing the needs of 2,900 federally funded programs serving 840,000 Americans.

"It gives me great confidence to know that COE’s 2013-2016 leadership is under her watchful eye," reports Council President Dr. Arnold Mitchem. "During her time on the board, Mrs. Verlanic has proven herself as an effective financial leader, working to ensure the Council’s investment portfolio remains stable in the wake of turbulent economic times and diversifying our resources and revenue streams. She has demonstrated skill in developing the future leaders of our board and the education community with commitment and integrity."

Mitchem praised the successful efforts of Verlanic and the rest of the Council’s Board of Directors to urge Congress to:

• Authorize a FY 12 budget increase of $14.6 million for TRIO programs, making TRIO the only higher education program that was grown rather than cut. This major win kept an estimated 3,000 low- income students enrolled in colleges across America.

• Investigate the recent misadministration of the U.S. Department of Education funds allocated for educational opportunity programs and students.

• Under the threat of sequestration; minimize reductions to Pell Grants and limit interest rates on student loans to protect disadvantaged students’ ability to earn an education.

"Amy works effectively with her Montana students, helping them graduate and enter college. Commendably, she is just as effective at protecting and expanding all students’ opportunities within the national legislation and policy arena. We are honored to have a fighter of her caliber on the Council board," Mitchem said.

Verlanic currently works as the Institute for Educational Opportunities Executive Director at Montana Tech, where she is responsible for fifteen outreach programs, 19 schools and nearly 4,000 pre-college and college students across Montana. In her time at Montana Tech, she has secured over $6 million dollars in federal grants for Montana students. Her passion to eradicate the obstacles faced by low-income, first-generation students in achieving a college education led her to volunteer with the Council at the regional and national level. Her service to the Council will require three years of extensive national and European travel. "Montana Tech is proud to have one of our employees contributing to the global educational community in such a meaningful way." commented Vice Chancellor Doug Abbott, Verlanic’s immediate supervisor.

Established in 1981, The Council for Opportunity in Education is a Washington, D.C. based nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the United States. Through its numerous membership services, the council works in conjunction with colleges, universities, and agencies that host TRIO Programs to specifically help low-income students enter college and graduate. For more information about the Council, visit the website at


CFWEP.Org receives grant

Over the next three years, Montana Tech will have the task of administering a $1 million grant that will help science teachers across the state learn effective teaching strategies.

Denise Juneau, the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, on Tuesday announced the recipients of two grants totaling $2 million from the Mathematics and Science Partnership Program. Tech secured the science grant.

Tech’s Clark Fork Watershed Education Program secured the grant, with Rayelynn Connole,’s curriculum coordinator, as the grant’s principal investigator, along with Ken Miller of Montana State University-Billings.

The grant, about $600,000 of which will go exclusively to Tech, will be used to train teachers in the new Next Generation Science Standards. It will help teachers learn effective ways to use a more hands-on approach to science class rather than a textbook-and-worksheet-based curriculum, Connole said.

“Real science in the classroom” and in the outdoors, like experiments and observations, is the goal, Connole said.

Fifteen faculty members teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics at Tech will be trained first, and then they’ll teach kindergarten through 12th grade teachers.

Altogether, Connole said 136 teachers and 50 principals will get the professional development opportunity afforded by the grant.

Bozeman public schools, Montana State University and others received the math grant.


Wal-Mart donates to the Institute for Educational Opportunities and Little Digger Day

Montana Tech’s the Institute for Educational Opportunities and Little Digger Day received a $5,000 donation from Butte’s Wal-Mart. Little Digger Day was created on the campus of Montana Tech 9 years ago by Annette Kankelborg and Amy Verlanic. Butte’s Wal-Mart has supported Little Digger Day since its inception.

Wal-Mart’s Deanna Phillips, assistant manager; Merle Axford, manager; and associates were invited to campus today to be recognized and thanked for their escalating volunteer efforts and donations to Little Digger Day.

Little Digger Day is designed for grade school children to visit the Montana Tech campus and interact with students and faculty and  engage in  fun activities that stimulate their interests in science and mathematics.

“The Wal-Mart associates, have been pivotal in making Little Digger Day a success by providing their time and a lunch to the children of Southwestern Montana and beyond during these special events,” explained Kehli Hazlett, Outreach Program Coordinator. The Butte Wal-Mart has 5 main volunteer events for the Butte Community each year.  These events require 50 associates to volunteer 250 hours and in turn, a local organization will receive $5,000. This year, Butte associates volunteered their time and served a BBQ lunch to the Little Digger Day participants. They also held a supplemental BBQ in the Wal-Mart parking lot donating the $276.45 proceeds to Montana Tech. The Wal-Mart associates and managers successfully maxed out their volunteer hours on all 5 events with Little Digger Day being the first volunteer event completed. For this, Montana Tech’s Little Digger Day received a $5,000 donation from the Wal-Mart Corporation. “Thank you Deanna, Merle, and all the Wal-Mart associates who volunteered and made the 8th Annual Little Digger Day a success,” added Hazlett. “These funds not only support Little Digger Day, they also are improving the educational attainment and aspirations of our areas children!”


New   Name   Better   Describes   Institute’s   Services

Since 1994 the Institute of Educational Opportunities (formerly Technical Outreach) has helped more than a third of students from southwest Montana, including many at-risk youth, succeed in higher education. The Institute’s programs focus on students who show high aptitude in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and span age groups from elementary children to graduate students.

The program recently changed its name to better reflect its services and the variety of opportunities it provides to students interested in pursuing careers in any of the STEM areas.

“We offer a comprehensive array of programs,” explained Amy Verlanic, Director, adding that the Institute not only assists students, but also teachers through professional development programs.

Located on the Montana Tech campus in the Health Sciences building, the Institute offers programs year round from short-term workshops to extended stay camps in the summer.

“We genuinely care about our students and their success,” said Verlanic. “We provide them with the tools they need in order to succeed.”

Institute   for   Educational   Opportunities   Programs:

  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)
  • AmeriCorps
  • Clark Fork Watershed Education Program (
  • Jump Start
  • Kids College
  • Little Digger Day
  • Montana Career Information Systems (MCIS)
  • Science Fair
  • Student Success Services
  • Succeeding Students in Engineering Programs (STEP)
  • Talent Search
  • TRIO
  • Upward Bound

How   can   I   support   the   Institute?

There are a number of ways that you can support the Institute, including continuing to encourage your legislators to support legislation that approves the use of grant money and letting us know about opportunities where we can establish collaborative partnerships within the Montana Tech community. Additionally, we welcome financial donations to support our programs. Donations can be made to the Montana Tech Foundation with a designation to the Institute for Educational Opportunities.


2012   Montana   Tech   Science   Fair

Science   Fair   Dates

Division I - Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Division II - Thursday, March 1, 2012

The deadline for registering/completing paperwork for BOTH Science Fairs is Friday, February 24th, 2012.

Hello Science Fair Teachers, it is exciting to announce the 2012 Regional Science and Engineering Fair, and to invite your students' to participate.

My name is Kehli Kankelborg and I have recently been hired as the new Science Fair Director at Montana Tech. It is an honor to be responsible for carrying on a 20 year tradition of providing students an opportunity to be rewarded for their inquiries.

Thanks to Montana Tech's excellent community and corporate sponsors, the 2012 Fairs is positioned to award more scholarships and awards than any other science fair or contest across the state. For example, the top ten middle school students will earn an all-expense paid trip to Yellowstone National Park and the grand prize winners of the high school Fair travel to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to compete in the INTEL International Science Fair. In addition, over 50 other awards will be given each night to encourage and foster students' interest in the sciences!

I look forward to working with each of you and your students. Please don't hesitate to contact me with questions about the fair at or visit the Science Fair pages.

Good Luck!
Kehli Kankelborg

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