Typically our October Annual Banquet and Auction is a highly anticipated event and MNHC’s most important fundraiser of the year.
As we all know, this year is different.

However, we’re extremely excited to announce MONTANA NATURE WEEK.

We’re looking forward to taking an innovative approach to connecting with YOU this year in the comfort of your own home. The virtual event will feature online presentations from renowned scientists and naturalists, workshops from MNHC’s talented staff, a nature storytelling event, activities for the whole family, and more! You’ll also have the opportunity to bid online for some incredible auction items and a chance to win amazing door prizes each evening.  

Learn more about the impact your donation will make!

We’re celebrating 29 years of connecting people with nature with MONTANA NATURE WEEK!

Monday, October 5

Montana Nature Week Bonus Content 

Family Journal Prompt #1 | Nature Journaling: What is a Naturalist
This 8-minute video asks “What is a Naturalist?” and guides you in making your very own nature journal. We’ll add a prompt each day this week to help you fill your journal! The journal prompts are from our ID Naturalist program which is a subscription-based service for classroom or homeschool educators designed for learners ages 8-13.

Behind the Scenes | Caring for Collections: Feathers
Take a deep dive into some of our backroom specimens and collections. Enjoy this view of MNHC that most visitors don’t get to see!
Behind the Scenes is a special MNHC members-only offering. For Montana Nature Week we’re making it available to everyone!

Tuesday, October 6

Montana Nature Week Bonus Content 

Nature Shorts for Nature Week, a partnership with Big Sky Film Institute
Streaming available October 6-10  A collection of new short documentary films exploring human relationship with nature, spectacular visuals of mysterious microorganisms and conversations about who nature is for. Let yourself be transported to fascinating natural environments in this fun collection curated by Big Sky Film Institute especially for Montana Nature Week! See the full list of films here.

Family Journal Prompt #2 | Event Maps

Among the Wildflowers
Take a Virtual Wildflower Walk with MNHC naturalists Drew Lefebvre and Christine Morris. Learn more about some of your favorite Montana wildflowers.

Wednesday, October 7

Montana Nature Week Bonus Content

Family Journal Prompt #3 | Sound Maps

Nature’s Notes: Wings and Woodwinds
Join us for a collaboration between the Montana Natural History Center and the Missoula Symphony Orchestra in the first of our four-episode video series, Nature’s Notes! We will explore the connections between music and some of Montana’s most beautiful, natural music and sounds in nature. In these videos, designed for families and kids aged 5 – 12, you’ll hear all about our favorite instruments, listen to an orchestra, learn about the natural world, explore a nature activity, and even practice making musical instruments of your own! We will release a new episode each month, showcasing a different connection between instrument sections of the orchestra and sounds of nature in Montana.

Live Event | Painting Fall Fruit with Artist Jenah Mead
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. MDT
Register for Painting Fall Fruit for free here!

Spend your lunch break painting berries and other fall fruits with artist Jenah Mead. Jenah will walk you through her artistic process and show you how to use value, color, and details to make your artwork come alive. Choose your subject from a colorful array of Montana fruit, such as a branch of snowberries, serviceberries, or rose hips. Jenah will answer questions and share her favorite materials, tips, and tricks.
Materials List:  Fruit, Pencil, Watercolor paint, Watercolor paper, Waterproof ink pen, such as Micron (optional)

Live Event | Exploring Montana’s Ancient Past with Kallie Moore
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. MDT
Ticket Required

Join University of Montana paleontologist Kallie Moore for a sneak peek at Montana Natural History Center’s newest exhibit, Montana’s Ancient Past! Kallie will be sharing a preview of the exhibit, and get up close and personal with some of the fossil specimens on display. Bring your curiosity and wonder, as Kallie will be available to answer questions live via Zoom after the showing!

Kallie Moore has managed the University of Montana Paleontology Collection for over 10 years and has been volunteering with the Montana Natural History Center since 2011. In 2017, Kallie became a host and content consultant for PBS Eons, a YouTube Channel dedicated to the history of life on Earth.

Door prize drawing: $100 to Montana Ace the Garden Place

Thursday, October 8

Montana Nature Week Bonus Content 

Family Journal Prompt #4 | Collections

NatureWebs: Batty for Bats
October is Bat Appreciation Month! In this NatureWebs for kids, you’ll learn about what bats are and what makes them unique, discover some of the coolest bat species, and leave feeling batty for bats! This webinar is best for kids in grades 3-6 (but still fun for other ages, too!).

Live Event | Fascinating Fall Phenomena
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. MDT
Ticket Required

As naturalists, it is easy to be excited about spring: leaves emerge, flowers bloom, birds return and start singing, babies are born, the whole world is bursting with life. By the time fall rolls around, we know changes are still happening, but they can be harder to see and perhaps appreciate: birds leave, leaves fall, some plants die, babies grow up. Still, autumn is an important and even exciting time for life in Montana. Join MNHC naturalists Drew Lefebvre, Alyssa Cornell, and Ser Anderson to explore a handful of exciting fall events in the worlds of birds, plants, and mammals. They will be available to answer your questions via Zoom after the presentation.

Door prize drawing: $100 to Finn restaurant

Friday, October 9

Montana Nature Week Bonus Content 

Family Journal Prompt #5 | Place Swatches

Backyard Birding
The Montana Natural History Center has many exhibits on display that show Montana birds, but we also have a lot of birds tucked away in our back rooms. These are specimens that we use for education, research, and studying that most people don’t get to see. In this MontanaPBS and MNHC co-branded series, we’ll share with you some of that special collection.

Live Event | Nature Storytelling Night
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. MDT
Ticket Required

We’ve brought together some of MNHC’s friends, volunteers, and founders to share personal stories centered around the natural world. Get ready for an entertaining, humorous and heartfelt night of nature stories!

Door prize drawing: 2-night stay at Five Valleys Land Trust Rock Creek Confluence Cabin ($360 value)

Meet our storytellers!

Ellen Knight grew up in the countryside of western Arkansas, where her parents treated her with benign neglect, leaving her free to roam afield to her heart’s content. That time yielded a lifelong love of the natural world…and here she is today, still loving it! But in the interim she earned a degree in zoology from Colorado College and an MA in Environmental Ed from U. Michigan. She and her husband Bob moved to Missoula in the dark ages, 1971. They were instrumental in the beginnings of Five Valleys Land Trust and Ellen helped found MNHC. Ellen’s two primary work/volunteer interests were environmental policy and natural history education. Throughout, there were friends and mountains, hiking seriously or ambling and poking about. Now she encourages her grandchildren to be curious and to value the whole earth.

Jackie Wedell is a transplant to Montana via Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas, North Carolina, and Nevada. Having lived in flat places, she never wants to live far from mountains again. Jackie spent her career working with children first as a clinical child psychologist and later as a school psychologist. She has been an MNHC volunteer since shortly after retirement and her move in 2012 with her husband, Edward Monnig, back to Montana, where they raised their two sons. Jackie’s story is about an early experience in the backcountry with two small children. She tells us that there are many other stories of adventures with children, but assures us that all serious injuries requiring ER visits were the result of adventures that her children had undertaken on their own – without parents.

Edward Monnig has worked as an ecologist for the US Forest Service and held a variety of positions in the agency including District Ranger on the Kootenai National Forest and Forest Supervisor of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. He enjoys a variety of backcountry activities including skiing, backpacking and hiking, whitewater boating, and just aimless wandering in our wildlands in pursuit of birds, native plants, and geological wonders. After retiring from the Forest Service, Ed and his wife Jackie returned to Montana where they had raised their two sons. Ed served on the MNHC Board of Directors from 2012 to 2019.  He now has the privilege of exploring the natural world with his grandchildren.

Larry DePute is a graduate of Stanford University. He lived in Alaska for 39 years before moving to Missoula.  Larry retired after 35 years as a Family Practice Physician Assistant. He is also a commercial pilot, a certified flight instructor, an A&P aviation mechanic, silversmith, lapidary, and jeweler.  While Larry may have set a few bones during his time as a Physician Assistant, he probably didn’t assemble entire skeletons, but that’s what he does as a volunteer for MNHC. Starting from a box of bones, he painstakingly recreates articulated skeletons of birds. You may have seen his work at the Montana Natural History Center, like the American White Pelican soaring over the exhibit hall or the Bald Eagle that greets you by the front door.

We want this event to be accessible to all, so we’ve created varied ticket prices to fit everyone’s budget. If your budget allows you to pay somewhere between the Living Lightly and Regular Registration levels, please consider adding an additional donation to support MNHC nature education programs at the checkout.

Both registration levels provide the same exclusive access to three nights of live, interactive programming on October 7, 8, and 9, starting at 7:00 p.m. MT each evening. You will also receive pre-recorded programming in your inbox throughout the full week, beginning on Monday, October 5.

 Regular Registration: $50
Living Lightly Registration: $5

Tickets are no longer available online. If you want to purchase a ticket, please call 406.327.0405.

All ticket proceeds go directly to supporting our nature education programs. 

Double your impact with a FUND A DREAM donation now!

Donations made to Fund a Dream directly support our Visiting Naturalist in the Schools (VNS) Program.

Due to COVID-19 our ability to conduct face-to-face programming in classrooms is limited this year. Our solution is three-fold: this fall, VNS will be available as 1) a fully outdoor-based program, 2) a fully virtual program for students either in classrooms or at home, or 3) a blend of both. Our educators are hard at work modifying VNS to reach all students and teachers, regardless of location and circumstance. Your donation supports our VNS team in developing a flexible program that provides MNHC’s quality, hands-on, nature-based learning to 1,700+ kids statewide every single month of the school year. 

Matching Challenge

Thanks to a few extremely generous donors, all Fund a Dream donations will be matched 1:1 up to $50,000, doubling the value of your gift. Thank you for donating generously to support this vital community program.


Bidding Starts: Saturday, September 26th, at 7:00 a.m.

Bidding Ends: Saturday, October 17th, at 7:00 p.m.

Our 2020 Montana Natural History Center Online Auction brings you unique handcrafted items, artwork, exciting Montana adventures, and so much more.  All bidding will be done online through the ReadySetAuction platform.

You’ll need to register to participate in the online auction, so why not do it now? It’s free to register! Just click “Sign in” and then “Request an account” in the upper right-hand corner on our online auction page

Confused about how to bid? Check out our Bidder Tip Sheet.

If you aren’t interested in any of the items in the online auction or you get outbid and you would still like to support MNHC, you can make a donation to our FUND A DREAM. Donations are being matched 1:1 up to $50,000, doubling the value of your donation. DONATE TODAY!

Auction items can be picked up at the Montana Natural History Center at a pre-arranged time. If you are not in Missoula, Montana, to pick up your auction item, you are responsible for shipping costs.

MNHC will provide a tax receipt for the amount paid above fair market value. 

We’ll be giving away exciting door prizes over the course of Montana Nature Week! Each evening we’ll give away a unique prize to a lucky attendee tuning in to the live event.


Wednesday, October 7  |  $100  gift certificate to Montana Ace The Garden Place
This certificate is good toward the purchase of any live tree, shrub, perennial, or native plant.  
Redeemable during the Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 season.

Thursday, October 8  |  $100 gift certificate to Finn
FINN gives surf and turf a contemporary twist and provides guests with an authentic Missoula experience. You’ll appreciate the ambiance and some of the best views in the city. FINN’s outdoor deck overlooks the river and surrounding mountains and is one of the city’s favorite outdoor dining spots.

Friday, October 9 | Two-night stay in Five Valleys Land Trust’s Rock Creek Confluence Cabin! $360 value
Located at the confluence of Rock Creek and the Clark Fork River, Five Valleys’ Confluence Cabin sits on 280 acres of restored natural habitat. Enjoy  nearby fishing access, hiking, and bird watching while you explore this beautiful valley. The cabin sleeps five and gas a fully-equipped kitchen, wireless internet, cable TV, and gas barbecue. Enjoy the best Montana has to offer, just 25 miles from Missoula!  


Will I be able to interact with the presenters?
Yes, as long as you tune in live.

What internet speed do I need to join the virtual Montana Nature Week?
Any standard home internet should suffice.

What if I miss an event during the Montana Nature Week?
All events will be available to view post-event as long as you register for the event prior to the start date.

How do I access the live-stream events?
When you purchase your ticket you will receive an email prompting you to register for the Zoom event. The single link will provide access to all three nights of programming.

I can’t find the email with the Zoom registration. What do I do? Simply email auction@montananaturalist.org and we’ll resend you the link.

How do I participate in your online auction?
The auction will begin on Saturday, September 26. When you purchase a ticket for Montana Nature Week you will receive an email with instructions to create your bidding account.

Can I bid on the online auction without registering for the full week?
Yes, simply click here to ‘Request an Account’ and start bidding on September 26!

How do I get my auction winnings?  Auction items can be picked up at the Montana Natural History Center at a pre-arranged time. If you are not in Missoula, Montana, to pick up your auction item, you are responsible for shipping costs.

Do you have any tips for online bidding? We want to help you be successful in your bidding.  Take a look at our Bidder Tip Sheet, and if you still have questions, please email or call and we’ll be happy to walk you through the process.

Do I need to buy a ticket for each member of my household?
While you don’t need to purchase a ticket for each member of your household, we encourage you to consider donating the money that would have gone to a second or third ticket throughout Montana Nature Week. There will be great opportunities to make it worthwhile.

I’m busy that week. Can I still access all the events afterwards?
Yes! If you register, the events will be available to view after they have occurred.

Still have questions?
Please contact auction@montananaturalist.org or call 406.327.0405.

Wear your support for MNHC!

Learn More and Buy Now 

All proceeds go directly to supporting the Montana Natural History Center’s nature education programs. Order one for yourself and these shirts make a perfect gift!


The artwork and design were created by MNHC’s Teaching Naturalist Jenah Mead.

Order by October 18. All orders will all ship at the end of the fundraiser and will arrive around November 3.