By Mira Brody CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGIST
BIG SKY – For Whitney Montgomery, Big Sky Community Organization’s CEO, all work follows passion. That’s what brought him here to Big Sky in March of 2021 from Asheville, North Carolina, to take the job with BSCO, and what leads him each day when expanding and improving the area’s park and trail network and running the new BASE community center. Although he sings praises about his team, it is also the voice of the community, he asserts, that makes the services the nonprofit organization offers possible, a fact solidified at a recent forum they held.
“Everyone was thinking about what the community needs, not just what they individually wanted,” said Montgomery of the event. For this edition of Making it in Big Sky, Explore Big Sky sat down with Montgomery to talk about his first two years in the community, and what’s in store for the future.
This series is part of a paid partnership with the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. The following answers have been edited for brevity.
Explore Big Sky: I’d like to start with a little background information on you, when did you come to Big Sky?
Whitney Montgomery: I moved to Big Sky in March of 2021 and have been here just under two years. I came from Asheville, North Carolina where I was a director of the North Carolina Outward Bound School for 14 years. I was recruited to come work for BSCO in February of 2021, and it happened pretty quickly. I was actually taking a skiing trip in Idaho when the search committee found me. I had a couple of quick Zoom interviews with the search committee and on my way back to North Carolina in early February, I stopped by with my son Harrison with me. He got to ski that day and we got to meet different board members, went back to North Carolina and a few weeks later made the decision to head out West.
EBS: Tell me about the history of the Big Sky Community Organization; when did it start? When did you become involved?
WM: BSCO will be entering our 25th year of operation in 2023, we were founded in 1998. It was originally part of Big Sky Owner’s Association and when Crail Ranch came under and the community park happened, the decision was made to [shift] everything from BSOA to what is now BSCO. Over the last 22 years, BSCO oversaw trail expansion and trail maintenance of the park and really became the hub of an organization to promote recreation and build a community in Big Sky. With the decision in 2019 to go full forward with BASE, we created a whole new opportunity for BSCO to serve the community with recreation, but now indoors. When I started in March  we were six employees and today we’re at 27 and we see continued ways to serve the community through park improvements ad trail expansion and possibly another indoor facility.
EBS: How has the organization grown to meet a growing community?
WM: One of the other things that BASE has provided the community is truly a safe place to hang out. From youth to seasonal workforce, the generation that has retired and are living in Big Sky, and coming out of the pandemic, all of a sudden there’s this great resource of indoor gathering.
EBS: Tell me about the different services offered by BSCO and why those are vital to the Big Sky community.
WM: All of us are attracted to Big Sky for a handful of reasons, recreation being one of those. It’s a town that likes to stay active and have access to the outdoors and in a growing community with growing families with organized sports programs. We’re really just trying to find ways to serve the community in ways that they haven’t been yet with a real focus on health and wellness.
EBS: What is the best part of working at BSCO? Do you have a favorite memory from your time there or a moment that reminds you of how important BSCO’s work is?
WM: There are a lot of really good memories that have happened in the last 19 or so months. Definitely having BASE open and having the community so engaged in BASE. That’s something I’ll always treasure. The number of community members, whether they are full time residents or seasonal residents, that have reached out to see how they can help and volunteer is really quite remarkable and the number of friendships I have made. The staff that BSCO has is an amazing group. It’s the reason that we come to work every morning—to serve the community, myself included.
EBS: What is the best business advice you have ever received?
WM: I have always been a person that puts their career as a key point of happiness in pursuit of a well balancedwell-balanced life for me. And some of the best advice I’ve had is to take advantage of that passion that I have to make things happen and to bring along everyone in the organization with.
EBS: Is there anything else that you want to tell the Big Sky Community?
WM: I think as BSCO enters its 25th year, it’s a good time for reflection. And also a launch pad of what’s ahead—how can we take this silver anniversary and look forward and seize opportunities for trail growth, park expansion and park improvements, and serve the health and wellness in our community?