Profile of the Week: Crow Men's Health

The Crow Men’s Health Project

A partnership between Montana State University faculty and Crow men to work collaboratively to identify and address health issues of concern

The Crow Men’s Health Project began in 2007 as a partnership between Montana State University faculty and Crow men to work collaboratively to identify and address health issues of concern. Differing from other forms of research that typically involve a researcher bringing a project into a community and making it fit, this program hinges on a technique called community-based participatory research (CBPR), a research method in which community members and researchers work together. Researchers and members from the Crow community work together to establish trust, share power, and foster co-learning while addressing community-identified needs and health problems.

The partnership is coordinated by MSU researcher Paul Lachapelle, Boise State University researcher Tim Dunnagan and a five-member Crow Men’s Health Advisory Council responsible for creating a research environment to successful conduct research, interpret results, and determine how results should be used for action. Community meetings open to Crow men of all ages have been held at different locations on the reservation, and health experts have been brought in to present health data collected from existing sources. While working together to identify health problems, the issues identified by meeting attendees have been cancer, obesity, alcohol related diseases, diabetes, mental illness and heart disease. The Advisory Council has decided to focus on prostate and colorectal cancer; topics that have been raised repeatedly and discussed at length in community meetings.

Since the project began, the partnership has continued to show many positive results. The new collaborative effort has held numerous community meetings, received approval and support of the Crow tribal Chairmen, organized a tribal Ride for Health ceremony with 70 men participating in traditional attire to raise health awareness, and is drafting a formal tribal endorsement to be introduced into the Crow legislature. From here the project will continue community meetings, design data collection methods to better understand present and future health-related needs, and pursue long-term funding to address prostate-colorectal cancer interventions.

For more information, please visit

Profile of the Week: Strong Women

Strong Women

The primary objective of the StrongWomen™ Program is to help communities nationwide to implement safe and  effective strength training programs for midlife and older women.

Women begin to show decline in muscle mass beginning at age 30 and if this condition is not reversed, women will have reduced strength and other severe consequences as they age. Women need to maintain a healthy level of muscle mass at all ages for optimal health through weight lifting two or more times per week,  but only 17.5% of women meet these recommendations. The Strong Women program, developed by Tufts University, is designed for women to increase muscle strength by strength training for 2-3 sessions per week for fourteen weeks. This strength training program is now being offered through MSU Extension offices in Montana, and the results have been inspiring.  Participation, improved functional strength and balance, and a strong sense of camaraderie and achievement are positive outcomes for Montana’s rural women. These trainings are conducted by Extension educators who have been certified to teach Strong Women programs.

About Strong Women:
The StrongWomen™  program is an evidence-based strength training program developed by the staff of  the Hancock Center at the Friedman School at Tufts University. The primary objective of the StrongWomen™ Program is to help communities nationwide to implement safe and  effective strength training programs for midlife and older women.

Who should attend trainings:
* Professional and community leaders who are working with a non-profit and are interested in the fields of public health, nutrition and exercise or wellness should attend.

* Potential program leaders should be regularly lifting weights/strength training, be in good physical health, and be able to collaborate with local agencies or organizations to provide the Strong Women program in their community.


For a list of all locations and contact information, click here


Native AIR

Native AIR (Asthma Intervention & Reduction) is a program coordinated by Montana State University Extension Service Housing & Environmental Quality Program. The program seeks to help children understand the triggers of asthma in order to prevent or control its onset.


Montana State University Extension is a unique organization serving all the people of Montana with research, skills and knowledge from Montana State University in Bozeman.  Extension Family and Consumer Sciences professionals serve people and families of all shapes and sizes, providing what people need to make informed decisions and suggestions on change.  By pooling expertise in food and nutrition, housing, health, family issues, personal finances, and environmental health, the Extension network provides innovative and targeted programs based on the needs of families, individuals, businesses and communities.  The Extension programs blend educational resources across disciplines to provide integrated programs the respond to needs.

Native AIR was a three-year effort  funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The goal of Native AIR is to develop, implement and evaluate a culturally specific asthma education program for reservation-based families.  While the grant has ended, information is still being widely distributed on the seven reservations in Montana; Native AIR is providing culturally specific marketing and outreach materials such as “Asthma Trigger Packs” loaded with asthma education materials.  The materials will continue to aid the adults and children with assessing their home for asthma triggers and how to prevent and control those asthma triggers.  To assure asthma triggers are kept in check, children have also been provided with a fun Asthma Journal to develop an asthma-reduction action plan and record all daily aspects of their progress.

Project Community Leaders on each reservation are looking into creative ways to reach the youth in their communities about asthma and the triggers that may exist in their homes.  Strong partnerships with organizations such as 4-H youth groups, Boys & Girls Club, and Early Head Start have been made along the way.  Area meetings are held to educate older children about asthma, helping them to serve as mentors to educate their parents and younger children about asthma trigger information and prevention.

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Hardin Worksite Wellness Initiative

The Hardin Food Access Task Force and Big Horn County Extension Service partnered with local government offices to plan and implement a wellness program for County employees. 


This project began in July of 2012 and to date the group has achieved 3 out of 5 project goals. Local worksites interested in working with the Hardin Food Access Task Force to implement wellness activities for employees have been recruited. The main target population of this project are employees of Big Horn County. Needs assessments of employees and employers at participating worksites have been conducted in order to identify priority areas from a menu of evidence-based wellness strategies. Wellness committees or teams at each worksite have been established. These groups will oversee the implementation of selected wellness strategies and activities within their worksites.

Of the 132 Big Horn County employees 39% completed the Needs Assessment Survey. Employees rated their level of interest in participating in a variety of wellness activities such as attending brown bag lunch guest speakers on different wellness topics, weight loss support group weekly “weigh-ins”, team wellness challenges or competitions and many more. For each activity option presented, there were at least 10 employees who indicated that they were very interested in participating. The Wellness Committee will begin planning those activities that received the highest ratings, but will also implement others for which a volunteer coordinator or champion can be identified. Activity implementation began in January, 2013.

Local eateries have been included in the implementation planning of this wellness program. Eateries were surveyed to determine healthy menu items that could be featured on a walking path map. The group plans to map a walking route that could be completed during the lunch hour and identify local restaurants where employees could pick up a healthy lunch along their way. At least one healthy lunch item was identified on each of the surveyed menus of the seven downtown restaurants. Owners of the restaurants were enthusiastic about the mapping project and very willing to increase the number of healthy menu options available. The restaurant map was created in January, 2013 and posted to various County department bulletin boards.

Participation rates in the activities that are implemented during the winter/spring of 2013 will be monitored to assess levels of employee satisfaction and determine areas for refinement/improvement. The group plans to develop continuing individual worksite initiatives beyond June, 2013 and hopes to recruit additional Hardin worksites into the wellness program. Another long-term goal is to explore the possibility of creating a local worksite network to support the development and continuation of wellness initiatives across Big Horn County.

Contact: Laurie Lautt

Big Horn County’s “Fitness for Life”

Big Horn County’s “Fitness for Life” received RHI Incubator funding in the Fall of 2009. From this funding the program has gone on to reach great success, and will continue on into the summer.

The intended program, to conduct an educational/screening program along with a 6-week fitness program, received double the expected amount of participants; resulting in over 110 participants total!

Base-line health data was taken by completing health screenings for the hospital and county employees (the two competing entities) on March 18 & 19. This raw data will then be compared to the exit measures taken at the beginning of May. During the interim, participants have been keeping individual journals. Educational materials and pedometers were purchased for all participants, and will be purchasing two Wii systems with fitness software will be provided to participating entities after the results are tabulated.

“Fitness For Life” has received follow-up funding from the second round of Incubator awards, and will develop a website so participants can “”track”” their individual results and spur friendly competition by showing how each person is doing relative to others, providing an ongoing incentive for all! This second component will also have a weekly series of health and fitness seminar, where participants can earn points for attending a minimal number and further points for each additional seminar they attend.