A helpful donation from The North Face will help bring more kids and families to enjoy the wonders of Grand Teton National Park through two programs offered by the Grand Teton National Park Foundation.
The $2,500 will go toward the foundation's Youth Conservation Program, a teen trail crew that operates in Grand Teton National Park each summer, and; Children in Nature, a multicultural program that introduces middle and high-school students to the park through interpretation, recreation, and service projects.
The Foundation was selected from hundreds of applications because of its innovative approach to linking young people to wilderness and helping them learn about conservation and stewardship. In the first of two grant cycles in 2011, The North Face awarded $125,000 Explore Fund grants to 52 projects helping more than 30,000 kids to connect to nature.
“We are honored The North Face believes strongly in the work we do,” said Foundation President Leslie Mattson. “These programs are successful and growing, and they are right in line with the national outdoor movement that is inspiring youth to discover the outdoors and understand the importance of wilderness in our lives.”
The Youth Conservation Program launched in 2006 and Children in Nature’s pilot season debuted in 2010. Both are part of the Foundation’s greater Youth Engagement Initiative, a long-term, multifaceted effort that addresses Grand Teton National Park’s need to develop a base of younger visitors, to recruit a diverse workforce, and to inspire future supporters.
In addition, Youth Conservation Program has provided more than 32,000 hours of valuable labor on park trails and historic sites—work that would not have been accomplished otherwise. Since the Initiative’s founding, nearly 120 young people have been immersed in outdoor adventures and received a unique wilderness education. Both conservation programs also focus heavily on youth development and include leadership opportunities, mentoring, and teamwork and are unlike any other offered in the region due to the hands-on experiences and the potential for advancement into park leadership academies and possible employment in the future.
In addition, Grand Teton National Park Foundation and Grand Teton National Park have grown these critical programs exponentially with the support of several important partner organizations. Teton Science Schools, an environmental education center in Grand Teton National Park, provides staff and program development; Teton Literacy Center and Latino Resource Center provide a recruitment link to the local Latino community; and many generous individual, corporate, and foundation gifts and grants bring critical funding each year to assure the Foundation’s Youth Engagement Initiative will have the resources it needs to operate effectively.
“First-hand experience is essential to ignite a passion for the outdoors, and that shouldn’t be limited by gender, race or income level,” said Ann Krcik, director of outdoor participation at The North Face. “At The North Face, we’re dedicated to providing everyone with the access to our natural playgrounds and the resources they need to get outside.”
The Youth Conservation Program trail crew can be found on park trails starting June 20 for ten weeks, and Children in Nature students will be learning and exploring the park July 11-16 and July 18-23.