HELENA – Over 300 service members are in Helena this week for the 9th annual ServeMontana Symposium sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Community Service.

The event brings AmeriCorps workers from across the state together to celebrate service and help further opportunities for service.

World renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker of Bozeman spoke before the attendees today to share his personal experiences, encourage environmental responsibility and promote national service.

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Anker has three Mt. Everest summits, once without oxygen, and has several first ascents across the world including Antarctica. Anker is also captain of The North Face Global Athlete Team.

During his presentation Anker spoke on the importance of service, mentoring, leadership and education.

“We would not be where we are today if it was not for the care of previous generations and the foundation of this is education,” says Anker.

Anker says it was great to be able to meet and speak with the students attending the event.

“It’s a great group of students here today,” says Anker, “I have a tremendous amount of respect for young people that have choose to make a difference in the world and dedicate life to service.”

Anker added that their work will benefit generations to come and he encourages them to always strive to be better.

Valerie Stacey of Big Sky Watershed Corps says that to have the forethought to know that what you do will affect the next seven generations is what AmeriCorps is all about.

“Improving our communities for today and tomorrow is what we’re all about here,” says Stacey.

Stacey added that it’s incredibly humbling experience to serve a community and recognize that we’re all in this together.

Before parting with the students Anker encouraged them to always strive to grow both as individuals and as community members.

“I encourage them to try harder,” says Anker, “Get out of your comfort zone, let the unknown pull you in and you’ll surprise yourself.”

There are currently 15 different AmeriCorps programs and projects across the state that help improve local needs.

For more information about AmeriCorps programs in Montana visit http://serve.mt.gov/