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Expansion Planned for Urban-Rural Student Exchange Program

A Montana nonprofit is trying to bridge the gap between rural and urban residents through a program that allows country and city students to swap places.

One Montana, which is based in Boseman, started the Rural-Urban Student Entrepreneur Exchange program last year, and it involves rural and urban students visiting businesses and schools in each other's community. The exchange has a number of goals, such as building rural-urban networks and establishing long-lasting connections that grow into future projects.

This is one of a number of programs offered by One Montana in its effort to create and sustain connections between the state's rural and urban residents. Its mission is to change the state's thinking and practices on rural and urban communities, and to serve as a national model for collaboration and community development.

One Montana piloted the program last year with students from two high schools, and they expanded into two other communities this year. The organization hopes to one day grow the program across the state.

A recent story about the program in The Billings Gazette described the differences students saw in the schools, as well as the pros and cons of the communities and how businesses adapted to those. Students also created business proposals as part of the program.

"It was a lot more fun than I was expecting," said Julie McElvain, a freshman at Skyview High, an urban high school in Billings, in the story. 

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