The connection between animals and indigenous youth is a strong one.

So say the people at the Humane Society of Western Montana and those in charge of a youth entrepreneurial  program at All Nations Health Center in Missoula. And the animals at the shelter will be a little bit better off because of it.


Janet Rose, Director of Advancement at the Humane Society, tells us that the All Nations Health Center’s after school program, Project Venture, has successfully completed a student-driven fundraising effort for the shelter. Led by Project Venture’s Prevention Team, Dana Kingfisher, Faith Price, Tara Weaselhead, and Julian HiWalker, middle school students achieved their fundraising goal and presented a check on June 11 to Humane Society headquarters for $330. And while the money is great, it's really about the pride and responsibility taken by these kids, and the results of a can-do attitude.

Marta Pierpoint, Executive Director of All Nations Health Center, tells us that Project Venture is a unique outdoor experiential program designed to empower youth through cultural connection, adventure, and service learning. As one of the few Indigenous, culturally based programs, Project Venture integrates Native values like family, nature, and service into its program, which offers a variety of activities, including problem-solving games, outdoor challenges, summer adventures, and year-round service projects like this  fundraiser.

missoula humane society
Image courtesy of HSWM


Students were motivated by their deep appreciation for animal well-being. They were the ones who identified the Humane Society of Western Montana as deserving of the funds raised. Their passion stems from a recognition of the positive impact animals have on mental health. That is a topic that matters a lot to these kids, considering the higher rates of suicide and substance abuse among Native youth.

missoula humane society
Image courtesy of HSWM

The funds raised will directly benefit the Humane Society of Western Montana, enabling them to continue their vital work of caring for animals in need. And this successful project serves as a motivating business model for future Project Venture efforts.

Congratulations to both All Nations Health Center and the Humane Society of Western Montana on their successful partnership.

LOOK: Can you tell the difference between these common pets?

Can you tell the difference between a hamster and a guinea pig? How about a betta and a guppy? Test your pet ID skills in our cute quiz. 

Gallery Credit: Stephen Lenz

Montana's 'Exotic Noncontrolled Species'

Here's a sample of some of the exotic animals that the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks consider "noncontrolled species" meaning they aren't prohibited unless it falls under Montana or Federal law. For more information about these species and other "exotic noncontrolled species" refer to the guidance from Montana Fish Wildlife, and Parks.

Gallery Credit: Ashley

More From 94.9 KYSS FM