ZooMontana receives two MJ Murdock charitable trust grants

Billing’s Gazette

ZooMontana recently received two grants courtesy of the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust of Vancouver, Washington. The first is a $180,000 grant to create a new Operations Director position. The new position will be responsible for managing the daily operations of ZooMontana. After a nationwide search, the Zoo has hired current Community Relations Director Jessica Hart. Hart has been with the Zoo since 2020 and with the Billings Chamber of Commerce prior to her Zoo career.

“As ZooMontana continues to grow, we are looking forward to this new role helping assure our goals are met. In addition, Jessica’s attention to detail will allow me to spend more time in the field marketing and fundraising for the Zoo,” said Jeff Ewelt, Executive Director of ZooMontana. “Thanks to the incredible generosity and commitment to nonprofits throughout the region, and Pacific Northwest, the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust will allow ZooMontana to attain goals that were once unreachable,” added Ewelt.

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According to Ewelt, this staffing grant will be used to cover the Operations Director start-up costs including salary, office space and work materials, such as phones and computers. Funding of the position will continue on a declining basis over three years, before the Zoo assumes full responsibility of the position.

The second Trust grant is a $45,000 gift to focus on the Zoo’s staff through a Zoo program called “Turning our staff into a team”. The funds will be used for team care, mental/spiritual support and training. Ewelt feels the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust understands the heightened level of anxiety within nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic and has offered select grantees, (by invitation), true solutions to help teams cope.