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When visitors board one of Wild West Rafting's rafts, they're actually stepping into some historic, soggy shoes. The inflated vessels traverse the Yellowstone River, which was explored by members of the Lewis and Clarke expedition in 1806. These famed adventurers saw many of the things rafters still see: elk, bison, and other wildlife set against the rolling terrain of nearby mountains. Indeed, Wild West Rafting's trips pass several of the majestic sights that define the American West. But the river offers more than just scenery. Near Gardiner, Montana, the flow speeds up as the river descends into Paradise Valley and narrow canyons. Rafters on these sections face an on-water rollercoaster, flying through class III and IV rapids with names such as "Yankee's Revenge," "Box Car," and "Audience Members in the First Three Rows Will Get Wet."
While they're an adventure for most people, these trips define a typical workday for Wild West Rafting's guides, each of whom holds certifications in First Aid, CPR, and Swift Water Rescue. The staff includes experts such as Ryan Winter—who, before coming to the Yellowstone River, honed his paddling skills on the South African whitewaters of the Umkomasi, the Umzimkulu, and the Zambezi. The guides can take groups on rafting trips ranging from a couple of hours to multiple days. During longer excursions, they can combine rafting with horseback rides through Yellowstone National Park.
Red Apple’s founder Tammy Bennecke started her career in the classroom, helping six- and seven-year-olds tap into the wonders of the written word. “What I loved the most was watching that little light bulb go off in a first grader’s head,” she wrote in her blog last year, but she couldn’t help noticing a disturbing pattern as she began moving to older classrooms. It was clear that children who fell a few steps behind in earlier years were discouragingly unlikely to catch up, and might even be at greater risk of dropping out by the time they reached high school.
Undaunted, Bennecke left institutional education to combat adolescent illiteracy through Red Apple Reading, an online program of easily-digestible reading concepts that encourages interactivity and comes with trackable progress reports for parents and teachers. The system is designed to keep kids engaged and entertained: goofy animals and skateboarding kids parade across screens and flashcards, and reward points and bonus games provide a sense of accomplishment normally reserved for the one in 10,000 children who can successfully work the claw machine at the arcade.
The brainchild of Dennis and Evelyn, Big Sky Business Journal holds the distinction as Montana's oldest business publication. Since 1982, the periodical—published twice each month—has kept readers abreast of economic trends in the Treasure State. Family-owned and independent of any daily newspaper, Big Sky Business Journal focuses on fellow small, local businesses and the figures behind them. It also takes a macro look at the economy, helping business owners and patrons alike understand how state and national policies affect them.