July 2023 Editor's Note: The Real Life of Montanans
by stephanie toews, executive editor
We live in Montana, where nature’s beauty, diverse wildlife, and abundant natural mineral resources have earned it the title of Treasure State. Also known as Big Sky Country - the fourth most extensive of the 50 states and the 43rd most populous - we have room to roam, and we like it like that. Second to none, it would seem that our secret is no longer buried treasure! Montana was one of three states with the highest population growth from 2020-2022.
It's hard to describe Montana pride; you must experience it firsthand to understand it. From small, charming towns to bustling cities, natural wonders and national parks, lakes, mountains, hot springs, and diverse artistic and cultural experiences, you could spend your life exploring the state without discovering all it has to offer. But beyond the postcard-perfect scenery lies the heart and soul of its people.
While Hollywood may have put us on the map with recent shows portraying our state, the lives of Montanans vastly differ from the glamorized versions that grace our tv screens. Its people possess a strength, unlike others, enduring the challenges of living in a place where nature sets the rules. Harsh winters and rugged terrain have shaped their character, forging a strong sense of self-reliance, determination, and community spirit. Farmers and ranchers are hard-working, self-sacrificing, up before light, out after dark, enduring the ranging weather, and working in the most grueling conditions to provide much of the local food and resources that grace our tables.
Forty-eight percent of residents live in rural areas, and cows outnumber humans. This issue is a small tribute to those whose Western roots run deep; generations of families work the land to benefit us all. Throughout the pages, you’ll enjoy stories of those passionate about agriculture - living, working, and breathing it - farmers and ranchers, rodeo, and 4-H families whose love for sport and animals is often generational. At our tables, we discover practical, sustainable, and delicious ways to enjoy farm-to-table dining. We look at the endurance and ingenuity of homegrown food producers and co-ops and the businesses that support them. Some local designers weigh in with visual inspiration and tips for artfully weaving Western design and style into our home aesthetics. And we introduce you to an up-and-coming local builder who hailed from a farming family.
Whether urban or rural dwellers, we can all thank God for farmers and ranchers! Enjoy our Western Roots issue. Happy 4th of July.
The REAL Yellowstone
The Last Best Place. We live here, and we know it. Montana is our own little slice of paradise, often hidden from the eyes of the rest of the world. Yellowstone has put a national spotlight on the life we get to live here. The whole country is watching and falling in love with this place.
Grit & Glory: Inside the Thrilling World of Montana Youth Rodeo
The sport of youth rodeo has consistently been enjoyed in our great state with no slowdown in sight. Although it requires an extensive commitment (from both two-legged and four-legged competitors), the payout is well worth the price. Young athletes learn lessons like responsibility, accountability, the value of teamwork, and often, how to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and get back in the saddle again.