Whitefish Community Foundation awarded a $50,000 Major Community Project Grant to the Glacier Institute for the restoration of the historic buildings at the Big Creek Outdoor Education Center, located 20 miles north of Columbia Falls.

The Glacier Institute is the official education partner of Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest, serving local youth, adults and families with courses and camps that foster connection with the natural world. More than 30,000 children and teens have participated in the Glacier Institute’s outdoor education programs at Big Creek since 1983.

Last year the Glacier Institute launched a campaign to raise $1.7 million to restore the deteriorating buildings at Big Creek. Funds will be used to replace crumbling foundations, remove asbestos floors, install modern plumbing, and other critical renovations that will help preserve the center for generations to come while retaining Big Creek’s rustic, historic nature. To date, the Glacier Institute has raised $1.5 million for the project.

“I’m always astounded at how many adults in the Flathead Valley have fond memories of visiting Big Creek in their youth, and it just reinforces the idea that we need to save this place for future generations,” Glacier Institute Executive Director Anthony Nelson said. “We’re honored to have the partnership of Whitefish Community Foundation to help us continue serving the community with meaningful nature camps for kids.”

Whitefish Community Foundation’s Major Community Project Grant program is dedicated to helping nonprofit organizations complete capital projects that will have a significant and positive effect on communities in the Flathead Valley. The program was formed in 2010 and has awarded $834,000 to projects identified and selected by the foundation’s board of directors.

“Major Community Project Grants are made possible by our Circle of Giving donors who pool their giving to maximize the impact. Thanks to their generosity, we can provide bigger grants to important nonprofit projects throughout the Flathead Valley, like renovating the Big Creek Outdoor Education Center,” Whitefish Community Foundation President/CEO Alan Davis said. “We are excited to support the Glacier Institute’s project and hope other donors can join us to get them to the finish line.”

To learn more about this project or make a donation, visit glacierinstitute.org/restoration-big-creek