"Place to work" is a broad category encompassing everything from Google and Microsoft, to candy factories and National Parks, yet somehow, a little Montana workspace managed to take the number one spot in this year's Outside Magazine rankings.

Surprisingly, Outside's "Best Place to Work" award for 2014 didn't go to an outdoor company, or a park service, or even ski hill, it went to a tiny elementary school just north of Missoula with only 29 employees.

"It feels great...it's amazing!" exclaimed Seeley Lake Elementary Superintendent Chris Stout upon hearing the news that his school had taken first. "We've worked hard. Our entire staff has just been so dedicated to making that little school the best place on the planet. I think that this recognition just kinda signifies how much you can accomplish when you get people together and set a mission."

Other employees were on-board with Stout's exuberance.

"Seeley Lake Elementary is the best place to work, it's the best place in town to work, and I love my job," said School Secretary Suzy Teafoe. "We have great staff, a great community, and our kids are awesome."

The Outside article focuses a lot on the setting of Seeley Lake Elementary and points at the school's many outdoors focused programs with glee. Words in bold are transcribed from Seeley Lake Elementary description byOutside Magazine:

Like any public school, Seeley Lake Elementary teaches basic academics to kids from pre-K through eighth grade. Unlike most, it practically requires them to get outside with active programs in Nordic skiing, hiking, biking, and canoeing. The school, just an hour from Missoula, is flanked by the peaks of the Rockies and bolstered by a lakeside alternative campus, so it’s not hard for staff to instill a love of the wilderness in their students.

Principal Stout says he got the idea to enter the best place to work contest about three years ago.

"I've read Outside magazine since, well probably since it first came out," Stout said. "I would always wait for this list, you know, you've got REI and all of these different companies on there. About three years ago I was flipping through the magazine and I was reading about some of the things that these corporations do to get on this list and I thought, 'well, some of this we could do and it wouldn't even cost us any money... why aren't we doing this.'"

Stout said the process involved some anonymous surveys and questionnaire as well as some fact checking by Outside reporters. He said the surveys were free of charge and actually helped the administration find where they were doing well or needed to work harder throughout the school.

Other Montana work places to make the list include Flathead Beacon Productions in Kalispell (58), PartnersCreative in Missoula (49), Foundant Technologies in Bozeman (35), Ecology Project International in Missoula (24) MercuryCSC in Bozeman (9).

Chris Stout:

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