YCP Crew, Grand Teton National Park 2019. Photo: GTNPF

MOOSE, Wyo. — This month, Grand Teton National Park Foundation (GTNPF) and Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) are celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of the Youth Conservation Program (YCP).

YCP was launched in 2006 to “steward the next generation of conservation leaders,” the Park said in a release, “aligning with the core mission of the National Park Service to foster a land ethic and an appreciation for the outdoors in young people.”

The program employs 16-19-year-olds on GTNP’s trail crew, tackling critical stewardship projects while also cultivating job skills and guiding students as they make career and lifestyle decisions. Over the years, YCP has grown in size, regularly employing 20-24 young people a season during a typical year.

“YCP has been transformative for the nearly 300 participants who have had the opportunity to work and learn during ten weeks on the trails in the park,” GTNP President Leslie Mattson said. “We are proud of this program and look forward to continuing to provide private philanthropic support to ensure it continues to provide life-changing opportunities for young people for years to come.” GTNPF has raised more than $2.5 million in support of YCP since its inception in 2006.

This year’s YCP crew started in mid-June with eleven participants who are eager to spend their summer working and learning in the park (the group size was reduced this season due to ongoing safety measures related to COVID-19). Projects planned for this summer include bridge and drystone step reconstruction on the Taggart Lake Trail, cleaning debris from a large avalanche in Granite Canyon, and trail repairs in the Death Canyon area. The participants will also learn about a variety of career opportunities with the National Park Service.

She's a lover of alliteration, easy-to-follow recipes and board games when everyone knows the rules. Her favorite aspect about living in the Tetons is the collective admiration that Wyomingites share for the land and the life that it sustains.