Alternative Futures for Soroptomist Park

Monday Dec. 28th, 2020

The Downtown Bozeman Partnership entered a partnership with Montana State University as part of the Community-engaged And Transformational Scholarship (CATS) Program to develop future alternatives for Soroptomist Park. The 2019 Downtown Bozeman Improvement Plan calls for the park to be transformed into an urban plaza that could offer space for a variety of uses. The Downtown Plan also mentions to revitalize Bozeman Creek for the community to engage with this natural resource that runs right under Main Street and through downtown.

The two MSU courses matched for the project were Stream Restoration Ecology and Advanced Landscape Design Studio. The project kicked off at the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester with a site visit with students, professors and professional mentors from Confluence Consulting Inc., Design 5 Landscape Architecture, and Intrinsik Architecture. In September the students held a design workshop attended by the professional mentors to brainstorm ideas for their designs and provide feedback on initial research findings. Throughout the semester the students received feedback and recommendations from their peers, professors and professional mentors. The student groups presented their final projects virtually on November 10th.

“This was one of the most rewarding service-learning partnerships I have been a part of over my nine years at MSU. Instead of a one-way model where the University provides a community service, Downtown Partnership and the professional mentors engaged with students throughout the semester as co-teachers at six formalized activities as well as other communication points. On top of that, students gained experience in interdisciplinary collaboration working across two courses, which is very rare at MSU. I am so grateful for having the chance to work with Dr. Poole, the Downtown Partnership, and the CATS program – this project proved to be a silver lining during an otherwise challenging time.”
-Rebekah VanWieren, Associate Professor of Landscape Design

“We could not have asked for a better first experience with the CATS Program. I was thoroughly impressed with the level of work that was completed by the students throughout the semester, the engagement from the professors, and the willingness of the professional mentors to provide feedback and guidance throughout the project.”

-Emily Cope, District Manager of Downtown Bozeman Partnership

"Working with my peers on creating a restoration plan for Bozeman Creek allowed a hands on experience you just don't get in a classroom. This program is great for students who learn better by not just retaining, but applying knowledge gained over the semester." - Sylvie Coston, Stream Restoration Ecology student

“Working with the professional mentors, this project was a truly amazing learning experience. As an undergraduate student close to finishing my education, this opportunity to apply what I've learned from the last few 3.5 years has not only been incredibly valuable but has allowed me to grow as a person professionally. Furthermore, collaborating and building these professional relationships within the Bozeman community, I really appreciate those practicing in the public and private sector who have come together to work on this important project. I'm more inspired now than ever to continue my landscape design and planning dreams thanks to this CATS program partnership.” -Tara Caplis, Advanced Landscape Design student

“I find that students respond well to class projects that have real-world significance. The work becomes more than a paper exercise that will be graded and forgotten. Student step up their game and become accountable to the client, to their peers, and to themselves, rather than feeling accountable to their professor. Such a shift in focus is an important part of professional maturation for students. It’s a shift from viewing oneself as a consumer of information and expertise to a producer of the same. I’m grateful that the Downtown Bozeman Partnership provided this opportunity for our classes and pleased that the community might benefit from their work.” -Geoffrey Poole, Professor of Stream Restoration Ecology

For more information and view the final report.