Winnett graduate headed to Europe and then the world

News-Argus Managing Editor

Winnett graduate Trista Fortner will tour Europe this summer as a music ambassador, and plans on entering the Navy in the fall.

Photo courtesy of Trista Fortner

Winnett graduate Trista Fortner is getting ready to head to Europe. As a fitting end to her senior year, Trista will be part of the Northern Ambassadors of Music program. Along with four other Montana students, Trista will leave on July 5 for pre-tour rehearsals in Fargo, North Dakota at the North Dakota State University. After those workshops end, Trista will board a plane in Minneapolis, headed for Europe.

The Northern Ambassadors of Music program brings talented high school musicians to play in live bands and choirs as they travel across Europe. The students are nominated by their teachers and must raise the funds to go on the trip.

“I raised $6,000 so I could go,” Trista said. “That pays for the two-week tour, and we’ll go to something like 15 countries.”

Trista said she was able to raise such a large amount by selling specialty foods and chocolate, and doing yard work.

Music has been a big part of Trista’s life already, and, if she has her way, that will continue. A bass clarinet player, Trista started learning to play in the fifth grade, a year after moving to Winnett from Dayton, Texas.

In her sophomore year, Trista said her music teacher asked her to do a solo at the district music competition. She was a bit nervous but said it was a great experience. She has also played at the state music festival and this year she played with the All State Band in Billings. Of course, her favorite teacher this year was Miss Baker, the music teacher.

In the fall Trista enters the Navy as a hospital corpsman. She ships out in mid-September. The choice comes from her interest in medicine, and the example set by family members who joined the Navy. But Trista also says she was inspired by an urge to pay the country back for her freedoms.

Of course she doesn’t plan to give up on music while enlisted. Trista is hopeful she’ll be able to join one of the Navy’s smaller bands, and, after her tour of duty is completed, she is considering getting a music degree at the University of Montana.

As with any well-rounded scholar, Trista was involved in more than just music during her time at Winnett High School. She played volleyball for three years, ran cross-country for three years and was a cheerleader for four years, including being Cheer Captain this past school year.

At home this ambitious student lives with father Jerry, who works for the Montana Department of Transportation, and mother Connie, who works at the general store in Winnett. She has an older sister, Taylor, in Bozeman and an older brother, Travis, who is in the Navy. The family also includes two dogs, a Jack Russell terrier and a dachshund, a cat…and four bum calves.


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