Teens will be put to work improving trails in Grand Teton National Park thanks, in part, to a $25,000 grant the Coca-Cola Company has presented to the Grand Teton National Park Foundation.
The grant is targeted for the Foundation's Youth Conservation Program, a privately funded summer work-and-learn opportunity for 16- to 19-year-olds.
The program began in June with 22 participants who are accomplishing hands-on work in the park in exchange for a unique education and outdoor adventure. The Coca-Cola Company offers competitive grants that focus on active, healthy living and programs that connect youth to the outdoors. Funding will be used to advance this ongoing program that is currently in its seventh season.
“This is the second year Coca-Cola has partnered with the Foundation to bring students into nature to enjoy unique experiences,” Foundation President Leslie Mattson said. “There’s a national movement to encourage young people to be active outdoors, and Coca-Cola has a long history of funding community outdoor programs and projects in national parks. This partnership not only provides the resources we need to keep our youth trail crew working in the park, but our story reaches a wider audience and that’s how great ideas grow.”
Nearly 120 students have participated in Youth Conservation Program since it started in 2006. What began as a small community experiment with 13 teens has grown into a popular outdoor institution that attracts applicants from across the country. The teen crew fills a unique niche in the park as it tackles trail-related projects and other needs, and mentors teach job skills, introduce National Park Service jobs, and help participants develop a conservation ethic.
“Coca-Cola has a longstanding commitment to environmental sustainability and encouraging active, healthy lifestyles,” said Quinton Martin, vice president of community marketing, Coca-Cola North America. “Students that participate in the Grand Teton National Park Foundation’s Youth Conservation Program spend their summers learning about the importance of conservation and building life-long habits through outdoor activities and adventures.”
Not only does the program creatively solve challenges in Grand Teton, it is part of a long-term strategy to introduce a younger audience to the park and outdoor recreation. Youth Conservation Program is privately funded by Foundation donors and has contributed more than 48,000 hours to Grand Teton National Park to accomplish projects that would not be completed otherwise.
This grant, and the accomplishments it achieves, is just the latest example of the good work the Grand Teton National Park Foundation does in behalf of the park.