Stories from the Crown of the Continent

The Crown Reporting Project sends students into the heart of the Rocky Mountain region that spans Montana, Alberta and British Columbia. Graduate students in the University of Montana's Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism program have the opportunity to pitch stories for this fellowship each spring. Winners of the pitch contest are paired with professional journalists and, through that mentorship, tell stories about climate, conservation and communities from the Crown of the Continent.

Both first-year and second-year graduate students are eligible to compete for this opportunity. The strongest pitches contain compelling characters, concrete research and specify what media will be used to tell the story. The award includes a $5,000 fellowship to help cover reporting costs. Once selected, each student is paired with a seasoned journalist who offers guidance throughout the reporting process and helps edit the stories so they are fit for publication.

Explore the recipients, mentors and finished stories linked to below to see the impact reporting dedicated to the communities of the Crown of the Continent region can have.

Students hike up a mountain trail.


Crown Fellow: Kevin Trevellyan

Mentor: Jim Robbins, The New York Times, Yale e360. Author: "The Wonder of Birds: What they Tell Us about the World, Ourselves and a Better Future."

Fellowship Story: 

Hemp: Lessons in the northland. Some Farmers Who Bet On Hemp Early Have Gotten Stung, National Public Radio 

Crown Fellow: Maxine Speier

Mentor: Ben Goldfarb, freelance writer, Atlantic, Washington Post, Orion. Author: z'Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter."


Crown Fellow: Breanna Roy McCabe

Mentor: Chris Johns, National Geographic

Fellowship Story:

Ghost Forests, PBS Television, Montana, Oregon

Crown Fellow: Sam Weber

Mentor: Graham Lee Brewer, reporter NBC News, New York Times, High County News.

The Blackfeet Nation is opening its own national park, High Country News 


Crown Fellow: Beau Baker    

Mentor: Laura Krantz, freelance multi-media editor and producer: NPR, Foxtopus Meida, Popular Science, Outside.

Fellowship Story:

‘Diabolical’ mussels begin their march into Montana, High Country News

Crown Fellow: Olga Kreimer  

Mentor: Michelle Nijhuis, freelance science writer, NYT Magazine, Atlantic, NY Review of Books, High Country News. Author: “Beloved Beasts Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction."

Fellowship Story:

Water-bottling plant creates rift in MT, High Country News

Awards: National Finalist, Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award.


Crown Fellow: Nicky Ouellet  

Mentor: Jane Greenhalgh, NPR health an science producer

Fellowship Story:

Banned From National Forest: For Profit Mushroom Pickers Go Underground, NPR's Morning Edition.

Crown Fellow: Katy Spence   

Mentor: Hillary Rosner, freelance science journalist. Wired, Scientific America, National Geographic, Atlantic.

Fellowship Story:

Natural Hydrologists: Beavers mitigate drought, Natural History Magazine Dec. 2016/Jan. 2017 double issue (print only.) 


Crown Fellow: Ken Rand         

Mentor: Christopher Joyce, NPR science correspondent.

Fellowship Story:

Underwater invaders, Daily Interlake.

Crown Fellow: Celia Talbot Tobin

Mentor: Ted Alvarez, multimedia editor, Outside, Backpacker, Grist. Author: The Wilderness Idiot

Fellowship Story:

Crossing the Line: Protecting International Waters from Mining, High Country News