By Sarah Korn, Previous Development Manager

Part of Forward Montana Foundation’s theory of change is that when young people hear from other young people about voting, they’re more likely to turn out to the polls. It was true when I was 18 and registered to vote for the first time with a Forward Montana Foundation volunteer (in a pink bunny outfit no less!) my first week of college, and it’s true now after Montana led the country with an increase of nearly 25% in youth voter turnout between 2014-2018.

It’s not just about turnout — it’s about young people lifting other people up, pulling each other through the dark money, red tape, slimy politics, and physical barriers to access. It’s about creating a culture of involvement that we can all be in together, where the diverse voices and perspectives of young Montanans echo through the Capitol halls.

This week, I’m hanging up my hat here at Forward Montana Foundation after the best year and a half of growing and learning, doing hard things and resurfacing on the other side. I’m grateful for coworkers, board members, volunteers, and other folks who are part of the ever-growing movement for a better Montana. The universe is expanding beyond our comprehension.

Last week, the universe lost a star, when our former coworker and friend Catherine Shepard passed away. Like me, Catherine recently transitioned out of  Forward Montana Foundation for new opportunities. She helped hire me, train me, and we were both about to transition to new stages of life at the same time — her to grad school for economics at UM, me to Colorado.

As we register our peers to vote and mobilize them to the polls, we’ll be missing a part of our universe, a part that believed so strongly in our movement that it will never be the same without her. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

We all have value in this wonky political system. We all have a voice, no matter who we are or where we come from, whether it’s Billings or Big Timber or Pony, MT, and it’s time Montana hears it. We can do bigger things than we’ve ever imagined because we believe in a Montana that believes in us.

As I prepare for my move to Colorado, my hope is that you thank your local Field Organizer, volunteer to make some GOTV calls or register voters, donate to a mission that you believe in — and for goodness sakes, if you are able, vote. We need your voice.