Nursing students from Montana State University are going to give a shot at helping to count Montanans in the 2020 Census.

The national head-count required every decade by the U.S. Constitution is important because if Montana has enough residents, it might regain a second U.S. House seat, said Sally Moyce, assistant professor of nursing.

“I want to steal a House seat from Rhode Island,” Moyce told the MSU University Council this week.

The census also is worth about $20,000 per person over 10 years in revenue to the state, or $2 billion, she said.

The upcoming census will be the first conducted online, which means there’s an even greater chance that people who are traditionally undercounted – the elderly, rural residents, Native Americans and children – may be missed.

“Don’t worry — Bobcat nurses are poised to help,” Moyce said.

To reach more residents, more than 100 MSU nursing students who train all around the state will pitch in for the April 1 census taking.

They will be available at libraries, Extension Service offices and similar public locations, ready to help people fill out census forms. They won’t be going door-to-door.

“Each student is going to have a tablet ready to fill out,” Moyce said.

MSU nursing students are stationed in every corner of the state, from Lame Deer to Wolf Point, Libby to Dillon, she said.

The student nurses are getting training in census-taking and also learning how census information can be used in health promotions, Moyce said.

MSU President Waded Cruzado called the nursing students’ effort “incredible.”

Matt Caires, dean of students, said a lot of out-of-state MSU students are going to be confused about what to write down as their residence for the census. If students came from Colorado, for example, but are living in Bozeman on April 1, they are supposed to count Montana as their residence, he said.

“It’s where you are on April 1,” Moyce agreed.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at or 582-2633.

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