Scholarships will help defray costs of Byrd's nursing education at Montana State University.

High school graduates throw hats in the air.

Elyse Byrd graduated from Columbia Falls High School this past Saturday and will soon begin her nursing education at Montana State University in Bozeman. Byrd received two scholarships through Flathead Electric Cooperative because of her academic prowess, sporting achievements, and outstanding community involvement. 

As part of the Co-op’s annual Scholarship Program, which is funded by unclaimed capital credits, Byrd received a $1,500 award, renewable for four years total. Byrd was also selected for the $500 Montana Electric Cooperatives Association (MECA) Memorial Scholarship for the Northwest District. These two scholarships require separate applications and are awarded by different panels of judges.  

Byrd, a native of Coram, is a skier, and captained the Whitefish Mountain Resort Freestyle Team for the last three years. However, she doesn’t devote all of her free time to the jump hill. Rather, Byrd volunteers for DREAM Adaptive, which works towards outdoor recreation for all. DREAM helps individuals ages 5 to adults with physical, cognitive, intellectual, developmental and sensory challenges, including Military Veterans, reach their outdoor recreation goals year-round, often with the assistance of adaptive equipment. Byrd began teaching DREAM participants to ski in 2019.

Elyse Byrd, Columbia Falls High School graduate.
Elyse Byrd, Columbia Falls High School graduate.

Listening to Byrd talk about how much she has learned from her DREAM students, and from the time she’s spent volunteering for other local nonprofits such as the Columbia Falls Child Assistance Team, it’s easy to gather that she’s a natural-born helper. Clearly, the nursing profession will be lucky to have her. However, Byrd says that nursing wasn’t originally the path she thought she would take after high school. Through the Running Start program, Byrd enrolled in a dual credit class at Flathead Valley Community College with a job shadowing requirement. Needing a few more job shadowing hours, Byrd signed up for a shift at Logan Health Kalispell. There, she found herself fascinated by Emergency Room (ER) nursing, and changing her post-graduation plans. 

Byrd now plans to complete her education in ER nursing in Bozeman and return to the Flathead Valley as an ER nurse. “Being able to help people at their lowest points, on what might be the worst day of their lives, is incredibly rewarding,” Byrd shared. “These electric cooperative scholarships will be so helpful in covering the nursing school costs at MSU, and I am honored to receive them.” 

This spring, local students like Byrd received $121,500 in total scholarships associated with Flathead Electric Cooperative. To learn more about scholarship opportunities, please visit To learn more about DREAM, please visit 

Courtney Stone

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