Elevating Local Knowledge in Curriculum, Conversation and Community

Creating Connections Across Rural Montana


  • Sabre Moore Carter County Museum
  • Angela Weikert Crosscut Mountain Sports
  • Jayne Downey Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1029-1799
  • Sharon Carroll Carter County High School (retired)




rural schools, rural communities, rural museums, place-conscious curriculum


In a time of fraying community and interpersonal relationships, rural school and community leaders are in search of research-based approaches to strengthen connections and sustain relationships among their students and community members. This article reports the findings from two studies (Moore, 2023; Weikert, 2022) documenting how and why, during the height of the pandemic, rural leaders from a community museum and local school came together to use local history and knowledge to design a museum exhibit and a K-12 curriculum about the pandemic and vaccines. The article describes the museum’s place-conscious development process of the exhibit titled, Shots Felt Round the World: Dr. Maurice Hilleman and the Montana Origins of the Fight Against Pandemics to invite visitors to view the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine development through local histories of infectious disease and healthcare. The article also describes how a curriculum for students in kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) titled, Hilleman & Vaccines: Connecting Culture to Scientific Curiosity was created in tandem with the exhibition by the museum’s Teacher Advisory Council to connect students to local history and knowledge to promote student learning through the integration of math, science, history, and critical thinking. Findings reveal that while the subject of vaccines is politically charged, the emphasis on local history and knowledge allowed both museum and K-12 audiences to find common ground, learn about the subject through a local lens, and strengthen school and community-school connections. The article concludes with recommendations for how rural schools and communities can use local knowledge to contribute to cross-community connections and vitality.




How to Cite

Moore, S., Weikert, A., Downey, J., & Carroll, S. (2023). Elevating Local Knowledge in Curriculum, Conversation and Community: Creating Connections Across Rural Montana. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 33(2), 67–83. https://doi.org/10.47381/aijre.v33i2.466