Healthier, one step at a time

Read about Jared Utecht’s travels during his first few weeks of service and his project work at Bike Walk MT:

trail sign photo
Trafton Trail Signage

I’ve lived, worked, and gone to school in several wonderful places in my life, and I am most pleased to be adding Montana to that list. As the Alternative Transportation Educator for Bike Walk Montana in Helena, I work to inform different communities across Montana of the benefits and importance of non-motorized transportation with regards to energy efficiency, bicycle and pedestrian safety, and general quality of life.

What I am most impressed with so far is the diversity of communities and individuals across the state. In a few short weeks, I have been able to visit Billings, Livingston, Havre, Anaconda, and Red Lodge, and have begun to appreciate the incredible variety of communities across the state of Montana. What I have quickly learned is what one community prioritizes may be precisely what another community abhors, and vice versa.

In this respect, I must take particular care to listen to the people on an individual basis and help them achieve their goals. One of the more inspiring individuals I’ve met thus far is Laura Pankratz, president of the Malta Trails Group in Malta, Montana. Having been diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes in 2010, she like many Americans, was given the difficult choice of either going on medication or working towards a healthier lifestyle. Disregarding the former, she chose the latter not just for herself, but for the people of her community as well. With a group of concerned citizens and a few humble financers, they approached their local city council and were able to create the Trafton Nature Trail for the health and recreation of everyone. It is rare to see someone respond so bravely to such a health crisis, much less do so with such concern for their environment and community.

And so it is from this sort of experience that I take inspiration as well as a healthy amount of anxiety. Particularly as an outsider, I must take care not to apply this experience to other communities wherein there may be a completely different set of needs or ideas. In other words, people from Great Falls don’t want to hear about Bozeman anymore than people from Atlanta want to hear about Boston. Nevertheless, I am most pleased to be a part of any and all communities as they improve themselves and seek to preserve their world for the next generation.

DSC_0473In college, Jared studies philosophy, history, Japanese and took every opportunity he could to travel. His professional experience is largely related to the service industry (cook/table waiting), but he is very passionate about music and literature as well. His travels and studies have led him to appropriate his values and, consequently, artistic expression and preservation – both environmental and historic – are things about which he’s grown to care deeply. Jared is serving at Bike Walk Montana, expanding the organization’s capacity in the field of education and outreach as it pertains to alternative transportation.

In the Bozone
Round Two

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