A new mentoring program will help University of Montana journalism students delve deeper into stories about the Northern Rocky Mountains.

The Crown Reporting Fund announced by the UM School of Journalism on Thursday will pair master’s degree students with veteran editors to report, photograph and video issues important to the region surrounding Glacier National Park, Alberta and Montana.

“We want to take advantage of the great resources we have in the region we live in, and all the brilliant scientists, land-use managers and biological stations, here and all the way up to Canada,” School of Journalism Dean Larry Abramson said on Thursday. “At the same time, the purpose is to give students support so they can do more ambitious work.”

The program came about through a donation in memory of Ted Smith, a former smokejumper and benefactor of the School of Journalism who had long-standing interests in climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation. Smith died while hiking in the Mission Mountains in 2012.

Two graduate students and two mentors a year will receive support to report and work on the story projects selected by a committee of Journalism School reviews and outside advisers. Journalism graduate program director Henriette Lowisch said the first projects should be underway next summer, with possible publication by the end of 2015.

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com.

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