Programs Overview        Science       Aquatic Resource Innitiatives

The staff of WLI believes it is important to reach citizens of all ages in Whitefish and its surrounding communities about water ecology. Efforts in this area include providing outdoor educational programs for grades K-12, high school job shadow opportunities, college internships, graduate thesis support, presentations to civic groups, and annual education and stewardship awards.

WLI hosts annual elementary school classes at our Living Wetlands Interpretive Nature Trail in the Averill's Viking Creek Wetland Preserve. WLI owns and manages the property for water quality, wildlife value, public awareness, and enjoyment. WLI partners with Whitefish High FREEFLOW and the advanced chemistry class for field trips and participation in field studies, and participates in the high school job shadowing program.


The Ripple Effect Scholarship Program
WLI was built on three pillars; Science, Education, and Aquatic Resource Initiatives. The WLI staff is committed to educating citizens of all ages about water ecology and water quality issues. In 2013, WLI opened the Living Wetlands Interpretive Nature Trail where classes throughout the Flathead Valley now visit annually for educational programming and field trips. At the wetlands, students are introduced to general watershed dynamics, lake ecology, and the effects of introduced species to aquatic environments. One important aspect of our educational programming is encouraging and mentoring students to follow their curiosity and continue their studies in environmental sciences. The Ripple Effect Scholarship Program exists to accomplish this goal. LEARN MORE

Upon request, WLI speaks to various civic groups ranging from the Rotary Club to private homeowners associations on regional issues related to lake ecology and the research underway at WLI.

Flathead Community of Resource Educators (CORE)
The Flathead CORE is a network of individuals and organizations working together to increase awareness and understanding about the natural, historical and cultural resources of the Flathead Region. The group seeks to:

Serve as a communication network between resource educators and the community,
  • Provide practical tools, training and materials for educators in the Flathead Region,
Be open to all resource educators and professionals to promote the diversity of ideas and cooperation, and
Promote knowing more about the place we live.

WLI has been a member of the Flathead CORE Watershed Education Committee since 2009. Through this relationship, WLI contributed content and reviews for the Flathead Watershed Sourcebook: A Guide to An Extraordinary Place which was authored, coordinated, and published in 2010 and a 2nd edition in 2017 by WLI’s Science & Education Director, Lori Curtis. The book was produced in print, is available on CD, and was developed into a complete website www.flatheadwatershed.org. The committee—in cooperation with Montana State University—recently developed the Flathead Watershed Sourcebook Educators’ "Guide".  A companion curriculum to the Flathead Watershed Sourcebook, the Guide provides a set of engaging activities that enable educators to creatively introduce middle school students to resource conservation concepts while meeting Montana State curriculum standards.


WLI is proud to sponsor the Chris Ruffatto Excellence in Education Award—an avenue for recognizing and honoring educators (traditional and non-traditional) who dedicate their lives to engaging the next generation of environmental stewards.

Nomination Form Past Winners  


WLI is pleased to sponsor the Whitefish Lake Institute Stewardship Awards. Each year, the award recognizes individuals or groups that took extraordinary measures to protect water quality in the Whitefish area. Nominations for individuals and groups are accepted annually.

Nomination Form Past Winners