MSU Extension Sanders County




Current Programs:

Master Food Preserver: May 29-31 in Thompson Falls | Application Form | Informational Brochure

Learn the art and science of food preservation
The Montana State University Sanders County Extension Office is recruiting volunteers who will attend in-depth training sessions on food safety and food preservation, and afterwards will share their knowledge by volunteering in the community.
We are excited about offering the Master Food Preserver program for people who have an interest in food safety and food science or love to cook or preserve food. Montana State University Extension in Sanders County is offering intensive training on food safety and prevention of foodborne illness, methods of canning, pickling, freezing and dehydrating. Master Food Preservers must apply for selection to be in the program, must attend all trainings, work cooperatively with other volunteers and give a minimum of 40 hours of service to the community by sharing their knowledge and teaching others.
We are offering the Master Food Preserver program so that we can expand Sanders County Extension’s capabilities to provide the public with research based information from Montana State University and USDA trained volunteers. Experiences for volunteers include answering consumer phone calls, providing information at local farmer’s markets, fairs or supermarkets, conducting presentations and workshops for community groups and school, preparing educational displays, writing articles for newsletters and newspapers.
Training will be conducted in a retreat-like setting May 29-31. Openings in the Master Food Preserver program are limited. The cost of the training is $150 with a commitment of 40 hours of volunteer service or $250 if choosing not to volunteer. The registration fee includes some meals, two nights lodging and food preservation resources. Applications are available at the MSU Sanders County Extension Office at (State Office Building) 2504 Tradewinds Way, Ste 1B in Thompson Falls or on the website at For more information on becoming a Master Food Preserver Volunteer, contact Meghan Philippi at 406.827.6934

About Sanders County

Sanders County covers a diverse area. Spanning 130 miles of the lower Clark Fork river valley in Northwest Montana the county consists of forested valleys and mountain ranges on the west end and open grasslands towards the east. Thompson Falls, the county seat, lies in the west-central portion of the county. While areas of western Sanders County receive in excess of 36" average annual precipitation, locations near Niarada and Lonepine may experience less than 10", making them fairly arid. The agricultural and natural resource base of the area follows a similar pattern. Traditional farming and ranching communities occupy the eastern third and a mixed small farm-logging economy is found towards the west. A population shift from the incorporated cities to rural dwellings occurred in Sanders Co. during the late 1980's and early 90's. While the incorporated cities of Thompson Falls, Plains and Hot Springs lost 10-30 % of their population, the county as a whole grew by approximately 18% to slightly over 10,000. The Sanders County Extension office is staffed by one full-time Agriculture/Natural Resources & 4-H agent and one full-time 4-H & Family & Consumer Science agent. It is further staffed by one administrative assistant.