Recently, a few young adults were busy doing what they do every day — trying to make Butte a better place.

Zoe Carlberg, 23, planned the planting rotation for the growing season at NCAT’s demonstration farm. In the summer, Carlberg will help hold workshops at the farm that will help people learn how to grow their own food.

Jordan Backstrom, also 23, coordinated a pickup of donated building materials and set up a presentation about upcoming projects. He spends a lot of his time painting houses, helping organize cleanups and more.

Alex Ruiz, who just turned 22, got back from a conference where he learned about Trio, the University of Montana program that helps minority and first-generation college students thrive at schools like Montana Tech. Then he spent his afternoon volunteering at the Tech science fair, setting up and giving out awards to Butte youth.

Many more of these AmeriCorps volunteers call Butte, albeit temporarily.

Kiran Singh, an energy analyst at NCAT who started out as an AmeriCorps volunteer, said she likes how many initiatives are community-driven.

“People show up,” she said.

Carlberg said her time in Butte has been eye-opening and rewarding. “Everybody here really cares about Butte,” Carlberg said.

AmeriCorps brings hard-working young adults to Butte every year, and some of them end up sticking around for the benefit of the community.

Kaleena Miller is a program specialist at NCAT, but she started out in the Mining City as an Energy Corps member.

Though she said she doesn’t describe herself as outgoing, she said it’s been easy working in Butte because the residents are easy to get along with and eager to meet new people.

“People are very genuine,” Miller said. “It’s easy to get to know people, not on a superficial level. When they ask you how she goes, they want to hear an answer.”

Carlberg said one impressive thing about this community in particular is that it’s all hands on deck in terms of community involvement.

“Everyone here is working toward making Butte better,” she said.

— Reporter Piper Haugan: 496-5572, or

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