A passion for hunting is what got Helena High School graduate Eliza “Liza” Sautter creating a “Hunt the Wild West,” webpage with her dad, Ben.
What she learned from starting it and also a blog has morphed into a business, as well as a likely career. Along the way she used her skills to help people who need bone marrow transplants.
Sautter’s initiative, computer savvy and community service project have also earned her a $1,000 Dorothy Harper Honorary Scholarship, created by this year’s HHS commencement speaker Dr. Jen DeVoe.
Sautter recalls starting out in a hunter’s education program when she was 12 or 13. Within a short time she was recruited as a teacher and also helped coordinate the Fish, Wildlife and Parks program for 1½ years.
Around age 13, “I started my first blog,” she said. Through that she learned a lot about WordPress and coding, which recently led to an internship and then a part-time job at Edge Marketing & Design.
With Edge Marketing's help, Sautter and her father launched their Hunt the Wild West business -- a social media platform for hunters to archive their hunting photos and stories.
Hunters pay a membership fee to be part of the platform, and they’re the only ones who can post or comment on it.
So far, the Sautters have launched four Hunt the Wild websites -- Montana, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming -- with plans for a total of 12.
Sautter’s also written and photographed two hunting stories published in Bugle magazine, worked as team photographer for the HHS football team and was the HHS boys basketball team manager/statistician.
All of which has added up to some impressive work, photo and writing credentials for the 18-year-old.
Sautter used some of these skills in launching a “Match the Bone Marrow” website as part of her online government class' social outreach project.
As a result, she and her classmates found three new potential bone marrow donors.
The $1,000 Harper scholarship will go toward Sautter’s tuition for Montana Code School, an intensive immersion training in computer coding.
“It’s a very big deal for me,” she said of the award.
Sautter credits her freshman English teacher Jeff Sykes with helping her learn the skills she’s needed to succeed, including editing her stories for publication. “He’s been a huge part of shaping me. He was an awesome teacher.”