If Hi-Line residents want to shake the winter doldrums, Montana State Extension Service again is offering some special classes, with a world-famous lecturer speaking on two of her specialties - low-stress cattle handling and dealing with autism.
Colorado State University professor Temple Grandin, Ph.D ., will give a presentation titled "The Autism Experience" Friday, Jan. 3, during Cabin Fever, and follow that with a presentation about her low-stress techniques on handling cattle Saturday, Jan. 4.
Those are just a smattering of the variety of classes offered this year during Cabin Fever, the annual series of classes offered by Hill County Extension.
"We're trying to do communitywide classes that will appeal to everybody," Extension Agent LeeAnn Larson said Thursday, ranging from agricultural topics to family-oriented and personal development classes to financial planning.
"And just some fun classes," she added.
Another highlight is the estate planning, she added, with a day-long presentation Wednesday, Jan. 14, led by MSU Family Economist Specialist Marsha Goetting, who will be joined by a list of state and local experts on the topic.
That is followed the evening of the 14th by another presentation by Goetting, "Estate Planning for the Young."
"I think it's really going to be a good one," Larson said about Goetting's presentations. "The first is an all-day class ... .
"When she does the young family (presentation), she really goes into why young families should be thinking about it what happens to your children if something unfortunate happens," Larson added.
Many of the classes offer Montana Office of Public Instruction teacher renewal credits, and the "Initial Pesticide Training" class offers six private applicator pesticide re-certification points.
The classes offering OPI credits range from heavy-duty truck air-brake systems - with the target audience farmers and ranchers switching from single-axle trucks to semitrailers, although all are welcome - to "Lawns, Turf and Irrigation" and "Navajo Jewelry Making."
Hill County Extension Agent Nicole Gray said, when setting up the courses, she and Larson tried to find renewal credits outside of the standard idea of teachers and OPI. Many of the classes with renewal credits are aimed at teachers who work with agricultural groups like Future Farmers of America or vocational training classes or clubs.
"If a vocational teacher can learn more about wool processing in what they're teaching, and what you're selecting for rams specializing for that wool ... they are able to relate that to the kids and the kids can absorb some of that," Gray said, adding, "And it makes it more fun for the teacher, I would think."
But the headliner for the series is Grandin, who overcame her autism to become a world-renowned researcher, author and lecturer. A biographical movie about Grandin starring Claire Danes was released by HBO in 2010.
Grandin, who developed a system of low-stress cattle handling and has designed low-stress livestock facilities used around the world, is a prominent authority, author and lecturer both as a professor of animal science at CSU and on the topic of autism.
Larson said Grandin lectured about livestock handling at MSU while Larson was a student at that institution, and lectured there last year about autism. She said she and Gray decided to invite her to Havre for the Cabin Fever program, and Grandin accepted.
"So we were pretty excited," Larson said, and Gray added, "We were very fortunate."
Grandin's presentation on autism is free of charge - Larson said OPI's Region 2 Montana Comprehensive Personnel Development awarded a grant to help pay her lecturer fee - but people must register.
Grandin's cattle-handling presentation costs $25 through Dec. 27, with the registration fee after that date $30.
A full listing of the classes offered and a registration form are available on the Hill County Extension Office website under the "Cabin Fever" button on the lefthand side of the site, at http://msuextension.org/hill/.