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With the generous support of UM’s giving community, we have built a new model for the biological station, one that continues to advance outstanding research and bring this science to University students, K-12 students and our western Montana community every day. On behalf of the entire FLBS team, thank you!
Director Jim Elser


FlatHead Lake Biological Station Facilities and Infrastructure

The Flathead Lake Biological Station’s beautiful campus in Yellow Bay comprises more than 60 buildings on 80 acres. Nearly all our buildings have been built and are largely maintained with external funds. During Campaign Montana, the generosity of our community has allowed us to tackle and complete numerous facilities and infrastructure upgrades, which include building a new boat house, renovating our primary research boat, installing a new de-ionized water system in our Freshwater Research Lab, conducting two engineering studies for a new wastewater treatment plant and upgrading the wastewater collection system from a portion of the Flathead Lake Biological Station campus and Yellow Bay State Park.

Interdisciplinary Internship Program

Philanthropic support during Campaign Montana initiated the Flathead Lake Biological Station’s interdisciplinary summer internship program. The Flathead Lake Biological Station brings University students together from different disciplines and exposes them to hands-on scientific research. The interdisciplinary internship program also fosters cross-departmental interactions at UM, as two newly created endowed internships bring UM graduate students in journalism and law to the Flathead Lake Biological Station. The interdisciplinary internship program pays students and covers their room and board while at the Flathead Lake Biological Station for eight weeks during the summer. It is increasingly apparent that the students of today need paid opportunities during the summer in order to maintain financial security during the academic year. The Flathead Lake Biological Station offers internships that are accessible and affordable to all students.

Flathead Lake Monitoring

Our beloved Flathead Lake, with its world-renowned water quality, is a primary driver of visitation and therefore the economy of the Flathead area and western Montana. The Flathead Lake Biological Station’s flagship program is our long-term monitoring of Flathead Lake. Serving as the sentinel of the lake since 1899, and conducting rigorous scientific monitoring since 1977, the Flathead Lake Biological Station regularly provides scientific information and expertise to the state, federal and tribal management agencies and elected officials making decisions regarding the lake. Innumerable Flathead Lake Biological Station students have been involved with our Flathead Lake Monitoring Program over the decades.

Philanthropic support provides more than half of the funding for the Flathead Lake Monitoring Program. Our long-term monitoring efforts have been sustained through Campaign Montana, and the program has expanded to a new site in Polson Bay and to include samples for aquatic invasive species.


During Campaign Montana, the Flathead Lake Biological Station developed and implemented a K-12 education program based on Flathead Lake and Flathead Lake Biological Station science. Funded entirely with philanthropic support, the Flathead Lake Aquatic Research and Education Program (FLARE) aims to foster scientific literacy, provide hands-on scientific experiences and familiarize local school-age students with the biology and ecology of Flathead Lake. Our goal is to engage all children in the Flathead watershed with Flathead Lake Biological Station science, scientists and educators through field trips, classroom visits, place-based curricula and teacher trainings.


We’ve achieved so much during Campaign Montana.
We will continue the momentum with these fundraising priorities.

The Flathead Lake Biological Station is a world-class facility nestled in Yellow Bay with roughly 60 buildings on 80 acres. Private support through Campaign Montana has helped us enhance and maintain our infrastructure. Due to recent growth in personnel and programs, the Flathead Lake Biological Station has outgrown its existing space and is now in need of additional classrooms for the new and growing FLARE K-12 Education program.
Operational Support
The Flathead Lake Biological Station’s variety of programs and activities include research and monitoring of Flathead Lake and waters across Montana; summer field ecology classes and paid internships for students from around the world; hands-on scientific K-12 education and teacher trainings; and laboratories that work on water quality, genetics and environmental sensors. All of these activities contribute to the understanding and protection of a healthy Flathead Lake and aquatic ecosystems. Philanthropic gifts support these programs, helping them thrive and grow.
Scholarships, Internships and Fellowships
Learning at the Flathead Lake Biological Station is life-changing for many students and young professionals. World-renowned scientists provide mentorship. Scholarships support undergraduates who take our summer courses, while fellowships enable top graduate students to join our scientific research team. Interdisciplinary summer internships provide hands-on professional experience and opportunities for career training and advancement.
Environmental Sensors
New sensor technologies have greatly enhanced our ability to collect large amounts of environmental data. This robust and useful data helps society understand and manage the natural world that we all depend upon. The Flathead Lake Biological Station has deployed sensor networks in Flathead Lake (including monitoring buoys), along the Middle Fork Flathead River and in high lakes of surrounding mountains. Flathead Lake Biological Station researchers are inventing and advancing these technologies in our SensorSpace lab, a development and testing facility for research, manufacture and use of environmental sensors.
Flathead Watershed Research and Monitoring 
The Flathead Lake Biological Station has studied Flathead Lake and the waters of the western Montana for over 100 years. Our Flathead Lake Monitoring program has generated one of the best lake data sets in the world. Our efforts have resulted in numerous water quality successes, as we provide scientific information to citizens, business leaders, tribal, state and federal resource managers, and politicians so they can make science-based decisions that protect our waters. We recently added a new long-term monitoring site in Polson Bay, as well as early detection monitoring for new aquatic invasive species, including zebra and quagga mussels. With your support we will continue to protect Flathead Lake and its watershed.
FLARE K-12 Education 
The Flathead Lake Aquatic Research and Education Program (FLARE) aims to make science engaging and to help young people understand the lake and their local environment. We bring students to the Flathead Lake Biological Station for hands-on activities, and Flathead Lake Biological Station educators visit local classrooms and train teachers on thoughtful ways to incorporate Flathead Lake Biological Station science into their classes. Curriculum focuses on Flathead Lake ecology and aquatic ecosystems in general and is designed to meet Montana state science standards. Demand for FLARE programming has grown dramatically since its inception. Your support helps us continue to provide engaging science education in Montana.

Make no small plans. Donate

With generous support through Campaign Montana and ongoing engagement with our giving community, we will continue our efforts to make the Flathead Lake Biological Station the best biological field station in the world by:

  • Maintaining and expanding our educational efforts for University students, including formal classes, independent research and interdisciplinary internships
  • Engaging with local schools to help empower students and teachers with more knowledge about Flathead Lake and its watershed
  • Sustaining and improving our long-term monitoring that takes the pulse of Flathead Lake
  • Communicating our science with the Flathead community and gathering the input of our neighbors
  • Advancing world-class research by our faculty and scientists in all areas of freshwater science 

FLBS is entering its 122nd year of operations. We proudly continue this legacy thanks to the generosity of our forward-thinking benefactors.