Every year the governor gives out the Serve Montana Awards in order to recognize outstanding volunteers who have dedicated their time and energy to the state. This year featured—in addition to a community coordinator, a volunteer firefighter, a high school mentor, an American Red Cross volunteer, a Medicare counselor, and the Thompson Falls Student Council—the Friends of the Montana Historical Society. This award recognizes the importance of the Historical Society as a state institution, and the importance of the volunteers to making the Historical Society successful. Founded in 1865 by some of the founding fathers of the state, the Montana Historical Society protects, preserves, records, and promotes the History of the state. This can take many different forms, from the fascinating displays at the MHS museum in Helena, to the state’s official archives, from the publication of Montana: The Magazine of Western History, to creating educational materials for elementary and high school students. In writing this blog, I have used all of these, and more, resources provided by the Montana Historical Society. So I am acutely aware that many of my blog posts couldn’t exist without the volunteers at the Friends of the Montana Historical Society. The volunteers clerk the museum, work in the archives, organize the events, lead tours, do research and much more.
As someone who writes about Montana history, I was especially excited to see the Friends of the Montana Historical Society on the list. But more than that, I was excited to see the diversity of the list. From volunteers at the Historical Society to a disaster relief specialist to the Thompson Falls Student Council, the list of this year’s award recipients stretched across Montana and reflected the many facets of our state. The Serve Montana awards offer a chance to celebrate the people and characteristics that make Montana such a wonderful place to live. Montanans are justifiably proud of many aspects of our state. The Serve Montana awards celebrate the thing we have the most right to be proud of: our people.