Student Stories: Senior Skylar Rispens Tells Stories Across Platforms

Stories are at the heart of everything senior Skylar Rispens does. And, she does it all.

Photo. Web editing and design. Writing. Social media.

You name it, she does it well.

Skylar says according to her parents, she’s been passionate about telling stories even before she could talk.

She graduated from Helena High School and set out to study journalism at UM. She says she shaped her course work to dig into photography and writing. But, she’s also been the multimedia producer for the Montana Native News Project and during her trip to Korea this last spring with Montana Journalism Abroad, she was the web content editor as well as a photographer.

Sklyar in South Korea on the Montana Journalism abroad trip this spring. Skylar worked as a photographer and the web editor. Click on the image to see the site she managed. Photo by J-School student J.K. Lou.


Skylar does her thing. Photo by UM J-School student Emily Martinek


Nicole Gone looks out her kitchen window to her backyard where she hopes to have a raised bed garden of her own. Gone regularly attends community gardening events in Hays, Montana hosted by MSU Extension Agent Hillary Maxwell. Photo by Skylar Rispens.
For the Native News project in 2018, Skylar covered food security on the Fort Belknap reservation with her teammate Mari Hall. Click the image to see the full story.

This fall, she’s the photo editor of the new iteration of the Montana Journalism Review project.

Skylar writes, “With the guidance of the professors and variety of class options at the School of Journalism I have gained unparalleled reporting experience that has shaped me into a confident and eager reporter.”

This summer, she spent 10 weeks as an intern in Butte, reporting for the Montana Standard. There, she covered stories like the annual Montana Folk Festival to following an infrastructure bond proposal from committee to school board approval.

Her favorite assignment at the Standard was a world-class mountain bike race. She not only reported on the race, but documented it with incredible photo work too.
Skylar’s story in the Montana Standard, “Butte draws from Bozeman, Helena models to boost mountain biking growth,” looked at the burgeoning mountain biking scene in southwest Montana. Click the image to see the full story.

Skylar covered the 11th annual Montana Folk Festival in Butte for the Montana Standard. Click on the images to see the full gallery from the festival.








Student Spotlight: David Detrick, Journalist & Entrepreneur

Ten years ago, if you asked UM Senior David Detrick what he would be doing today, he might have still pictured himself writing, but with his words grounded in music rather than in the news. He played with bands in Los Angeles, California before moving back home to Seattle, Washington. Detrick founded his own band in Seattle called Saving Arcadia, and he wrote all of the lyrics to the Green Day and NOFX style songs.

Detrick got his first taste of journalism at the South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) in Olympia, WA. He had been majoring in Political Science when he started working at the school’s paper The Sounds as a reporter and writer. The more he learned about the political system, the more he realized that wasn’t his dream career. “I don’t want to work for these people,” he said. “I want to expose these people.”

Detrick sports a Griz Lee hat and gets ready for a Griz basketball game on December 22nd, 2015, as part of Griz Vision.
Detrick sports a Griz Lee hat and gets ready for a Griz basketball game on December 22nd, 2015, as part of Griz Vision.

With his newfound passion for journalism, Detrick had his eyes set on the School of Journalism at the University of Montana. His acceptance to the program also came with a Western Undergraduate Exchange Scholarship, based on his academic success at SPSCC.

The outdoor photography and sports journalism opportunities, ever popular in Montana media, aligned perfectly with Detrick’s interests. On February 11th, 2015, the Montana Kaimin published a feature-length piece that he wrote about a UM alumni football player who got signed to the Seattle Seahawks.

This past year Detrick photographed Griz football games and also filmed Griz and Lady Griz basketball games as part of a program called Griz Vision, which gives students professional experience with broadcasting sports live.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Detrick said. “I like being behind the camera.”

Outside of academics, Detrick started his own business in 2015 called Griz Lee, which he called “a Montana inspired clothing line with an attitude for anyone with a sense of humor to enjoy.” Around campus, most students are familiar with the Griz Lee logo, featuring Bruce Lee’s head on top of the body of a grizzly bear doing Kung Fu. Detrick gets a real sense of pride when he sees Griz Lee stickers slapped onto water bottles or laptops.

“Ever since I was a kid, I’d come up with T-shirt ideas, crazy ideas,” Detrick said, “But I never did anything about them.”

Yet he was determined to follow through this time around. Detrick pitched his product to the University Center Bookstore, and now says Griz Lee items sell out faster than they get re-ordered. Detrick has also spread his business around Missoula, thanks to social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, as well as word-of-mouth. Now he’s answering orders from people as far away as Tennessee, which he suspects has to do with the Memphis Grizzlies, a professional basketball team.

In April 2015, Detrick won the Dean’s Award for his outstanding performance in Journalism. As a senior this year, he’s only been taking Journalism classes, and he knows that more doors open as he continues to gain experience—not just for him, but also his nearly four-year-old son.

“The sky’s the limit now,” Detrick said.

By Jana Wiegand