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40th Year: Driving Change. Changing Lives.

Did you know ...

The Rural Institute has been fertile ground for doctoral student research. We count 38 (probably more) students who earned their PhDs using RIIC research projects and activities. In the words of a former trainee:

An essential component of my professional achievements was the mentoring I received at RIIC. Dr. Tom Seekins, Dr. Craig Ravesloot, and Dr. Martin Blair were imperative to my success in finding a post-doc fellowship in Disability and Policy Research.

Did you know ...

Social Science 2009A series within the series: Rural Institute workspaces!

Next, the Rural Institute staff moved from the "Pigeon Palace" in Main Hall to the former University library on the top floor of the Social Science Building ( Even though that space was just as hot, pigeons did not visit. Later, the RIIC moved to the old bowling alley in the UC where the bank, shipping center and hair salon are now. It is unknown if the RIIC staff took advantage of the pin setters and brightly polished wood floor to bowl in the office.


Main Hall University of MontanaDid you know ...

A series within the series: Rural Institute work spaces!

The Rural Institute settled on Missoula as home base in 1979; 4 employees shared a rental house close to the University.  Later, the RIIC moved to the "Pigeon Palace", a corner office in Main Hall; pigeons would come into RIIC offices via windows left open to mitigate the summer heat.


1978 2018 - Research Service Education

Did you know ...

Until the early 1980s, the Rural Institute was a satellite center of the Utah Exceptional Child Center at Utah State University. The Rural Institute became fully independent by 1983.


hearing iconDid you know ...

Mary Morrison joined UM as an ASL interpreter in 1990. Over the course of nearly two decades, she became a national leader in services and supports for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. She co-directed the National PEPNET2 program until her retirement in 2017.


word cloud with Education, Research, Service, Employment, Healthy Living, Assistive Technology, 1978-2018Did you know ...

The Rural Institute is involved with many aspects of disability; everything from healthy living to geography to employment to assistive technology. Some of our projects are represented by the following 8 websites:

 Rural Institute
RTC: Rural
Disability Counts  Data Finder
Telecom Toolbox
Rural Disability Resources Library
Healthy Community Living
Transition and Employment Projects


trainees graph website

Did you know ...

Trainees through the years




Did you know ...

1978 2018The total budget for the Rural Institute in its second year, 1979, was a whopping $271,216.


Did you know ...

AIDTACThe American Indian Disability Technical Assistance Center (AIDTAC) opened its doors in 2000. It provided information, training and technical assistance to VR and employment support staff for 8 years. Funding for the Technical Assistance on Native American Culture project (TANAC) project was discontinued in 2008.


Marty in meeting in KenyaDid you know ...

Over the past 10 years, Rural Institute staff has had an international presence in Peru, South Korea, New Zealand, and Kenya.



MATOR - Raft on beach, man in wheelchair fishing and man using hunting scopeDid you know ...

In 2009, equipment to help Montanans participate in wildlife viewing, fishing and hunting was secured through a Montana Access To Outdoor Recreation (MATOR) project. This program, started by Kathy Laurin, was eventually absorbed by MonTECH. Assistive technology for recreation continues to be available via MonTECH, the Missoula Parks & Recreation MORE program and Wheels Across Montana.

Parks and Rec:
Wheels Across Montana:


Did you know ...

Infant with bowl of pudding.During its first decade, the Rural Institute's focus was research and training in the areas of developmental disabilities and early childhood. Montana's early childhood and early intervention systems were a national model after which Part H (now Part C) of the federal special education law were organized.


RTC:Rural and Tom SeekinsDid you know ...

In the late 80s, Rick Offner, the second Rural Institute director, proposed a new center to the Montana Board of Regents that drew together the Research and Training Center (RTC) and the Rural Institute. Rick hired Tom Seekins as the first RTC research director.  Tom's office was in the same building he lived in as a college freshman.

RTC: Rural:


1978 2018 - Research Service Education

Did you know ...

The official name of the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities is the "Montana University Affiliated Rural Institute on Disabilities" or MUARID. In 2013, we unofficially updated the name to Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) to more accurately describe our work.


RIIC FY2017Did you know ...

The Rural Institute has been awarded $168,611,362 over the last 40 years. The 2004 and 2005 budget years were the highest with total awards of $9.6M and $9.3M, respectively. The average annual budget over the Institute's lifetime is just over $4.2 million. FY 2017 PDF


2012-MonTECH-TEP-MTRoadmap-Young man working at computer

Did you know ...

2012 was a pivotal grant year.

  • The Rural Institute became the first PCORI grant recipient in the intermountain west
  • The Emerging Leaders program started publishing stories to expand the vision of what's possible for youth with developmental disabilities
  • MonTECH was awarded $1 million to start the Montana Assistive Technology Loan program with Rural Dynamics, Inc. in Great Falls.


Meg TraciDid you know ...

The Montana Disability and Health Program began in 2002. It was built on a foundation of some of the first health and wellness interventions for populations with disabilities. Rural Institute researchers designed these interventions with many disability and public health partners in Montana and other states the 1990s. Today, MTDH is one of 19 CDC state funded programs in the country. Meg Traci has directed the MTDH program from the beginning. In 2014, Meg was invited to participate in the White House Summit and Research Forum on Improved Health and Fitness for Americans with Disabilities. In 2015, Dr. Traci was invited to serve on the CDC National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental and the Division of Human Development and Disability, Disability and Health Branch Expert Panel.