Tester Announces $400,000 for Innovative Training Program in the Flathead

Award will prepare students for good-paying jobs in the biotechnology sector

(U.S. Senate) – In a huge win for Montana’s economy, Senator Jon Tester proudly announced today that Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) will receive more than $400,000 to encourage and prepare high school students for a career in biotechnology.

The grant will support FVCC’s “TeaM SCoRE Biotechnology: Teachers in Montana Strengthening the Continuity of Rural Education in Biotechnology” initiative.

“Biotechnology is one of the fastest growing sectors, not only in Montana, but across the world,” Tester said. “This grant will ensure our students are prepared for hi-tech jobs and can compete in a 21st Century economy.”

Developed and spearheaded by FVCC Biology Professor Ruth Wrightsman, the goal is to bolster the school to workforce pipeline in the field of biotechnology by providing high school life science teachers with the training and resources they need to implement a comprehensive biotechnology curriculum.

“We are honored to receive this grant, and are looking forward to partnering with our local teachers to implement new DNA technology experiments in their classrooms,” Professor Wrightsman said. “Our program will inspire students and provide a pathway for them to enter the biotechnology workforce.”

According to a recent study commissioned by the Montana BioScience Alliance, the growth of Montana’s life sciences sector-from 2001 to 2011-was four times faster than the national average. The average salary of a job in Montana’s bioscience industry is $65,317 per year, and is 70 percent higher than the average Montanan’s salary of $38,533.

The project was awarded $424,590 and will be implemented over the course of 36 months, starting July 1, 2016. The grant comes from the National Science Foundation, a federal agency that supports scientific education and inquiry that contributes to our nation’s economic growth and technological development.