At a beautifully illustrated lecture about grizzly bears in Yellowstone Park, I was recently [April, 2012] introduced to a remarkable young organization, one whose main mission is to inspire the youth on the fringes of the Yellowstone Ecosystem to become aware of the wonders so near them and of what they can do to help preserve them—to become guardians of the Yellowstone country.
As future guardians, high school students from Bozeman, Emigrant, Gardiner, and Livingston, Montana, take the Yellowstone Leadership Challenge. They climb a mountain, watch Lamar Valley wildlife on an early morning, participate in a service project in the park, and learn about conservation issues.
Formed in 2009 and led by the enthusiastic and dedicated former ranger, Michael Leach, this group hopes to bridge a perceived gap between many of the hitherto unconcerned citizens living in and near Yellowstone gateway communities and the park’s delights and needs.
So far, the Guardians’ program has created a fly fishing school and a bear education program for high school students. It has begun to interview and film Yellowstone Country residents telling their stories about living in this unique environment. Its Regional Road Tour aims to foster greater understanding of the area’s wildlands and encourage community participation in their stewardship.
I wish them well. For more information or to learn how you can help the organization, see: www.yellowstonecountryguardians.org.