A Yellowstone Forever Summer

Planning for our summer began in earnest several months ago but we just arrived at our destination, Yellowstone National Park, a few weeks ago and what a whirlwind it has been.

Giving back by way of volunteering is a passion of ours and this year we have elected (and been chosen) to be program volunteers for Yellowstone Forever.  Formerly known as Yellowstone Association, a merger in October 2016 between the Association and the Yellowstone Park Foundation created Yellowstone Forever, the educational and philanthropic partner of the park.  We will be supporting the naturalists who conduct the Field Seminars and soaking up every bit of knowledge we can along the way.  Their subject list is diverse, ranging from wildlife, birding, photography, geology, sketching, hiking, Native American studies, backpacking, fly-fishing, and an entire new Naturalist Series.  It is going to be an active and educational summer, one in which we feel fortunate to participate.

Training for our Yellowstone summer adventure spanned a couple of weeks and covered a broad spectrum of activities; e.g. orientation, bus driver training, an intensive two-day wilderness first aid class, course preparation, and camp duty…whew!

When we finally arrived at our summer home, the Lamar Buffalo Ranch, we hit the ground running with a dedicated group who travel from near and far to ready the campus for the upcoming summer season.  From top to bottom we scrubbed and scoured the bunk house, bath houses, and cabins, in anticipation of a busy summer.  If it sounds like a lot of prep, it is, but the care taken by Yellowstone Forever to ensure happy field seminar participants has resulted in numerous returnees year after year to consume the knowledge eagerly shared by the engaging naturalists who conduct the classes.

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Yes, it has been a whirlwind few weeks, tiring yet exhilarating.  Although far from being expert program volunteers, we both have one field seminar under our belts, “Intro to Wolf Management and Ecology” and “Bears, Bones, Signs, and Stories”.

As I sit on the back porch of our bunkhouse looking out over the heart of the Lamar Valley, known as the “Serengeti of North America”, I listen to the resounding thunder rolling across the landscape. Countless bison can be seen grazing, while their young “red dog” calves frolic.  I am humbled by the wonder of this magical landscape. I have no doubt that my Yellowstone Forever summer will change me in ways I cannot foresee.

Rumi said:

“There is a voice that doesn’t use words.  Listen.”

I believe that voice can be found in the wilderness, in places like Yellowstone National Park.  I plan to spend plenty of time listening.  As time and the internet permits, I hope to share what I have learned.

Hope you are all having a great start to your summer!

Disclaimer:  The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of Yellowstone Forever.  












44 thoughts on “A Yellowstone Forever Summer

    • Thanks Alison. We think it will be a very rewarding summer. I am very anxious to catch up with everyone in the blogging world.

  • I have been eagerly awaiting your first post of this summer’s adventure for you. It seems you are really going to enjoy this summer and learning so much to further enrich your love of nature and adventure. As usual, your pictures are wonderful, and I look forward to hearing more about what you are doing and your great photos to go with it. Take care and keep safe and enjoy!

    • Thanks Joan. It has been a challenge to find time to blog and our internet is a bit sketchy at times as well. Hope all is good with you.

  • What a wonderful place to spend your summer and volunteering your time. Yellowstone is my all time favorite park. It offers such a diverse array of features. I can’t wait for you to share all you see and learn. Love your backyard…gorgeous! Enjoy your time. You and Terry will be awesome guides:)

  • Such a beautiful beginning to your magical Yellowstone summer! Your photo of the mountains framed by the elk antlers is so artistic. What a fabulous way to experience the park — I’m so happy you’re going to be sharing your adventures with us. They’re lucky to have you as volunteers. 🙂

    • It has been a wonderful start to our summer, with our brains crammed full of new information. Hope you and Eric are doing well. I hope to catch up with many blogs very soon.

  • What an enriching and rewarding way to spend your summer LuAnn! Sounds and looks like it will be quite an incredible experience. I love the photos of the mama bison and her little red dog and the mam grizzly bear and her cub. How wonderful to be surrounded by so much wildlife and beauty!

    So enjoyed all your beautiful photos!


    • Thanks Peta. We have been so busy but certainly enjoying all we are learning. I hope to catch up with the two of you soon.

  • If your photos are any indication of your Yellowstone excursion, you will be in for one heck of a memorable summer. I know you’ve worked at Yellowstone before, but this adventure sounds very different and rewarding. I look forward to hearing AND seeing more!

    • This certainly is different Ingrid as we are working closely with the naturalists who know this park so well. I can’t believe what I have learned so far on wolves alone.

  • What an absolutely wonderful adventure at Yellowstone Forever. So happy to know about it and its work. Thank you for your volunteering! Looking forward to your continued postings.

  • Hooray, hooray, LuAnn is back to writing and painting her descriptive word pictures that we all enjoy. You haven’t lost a step Lulu, everything is beautiful and we can see those Bison roaming near your back porch in our own imaginations. This sounds like a wonderful Terry and LuAnn Adventure once again and something that gives you a positive outlook on life each morning, as you begin your day. You need that and we look forward to seeing more of these stories as the summer progresses……………..Rog & Gayl

    • You are such a sweet man, my friend. I have been wanting to write since we set foot in Lamar Valley but have been so busy that I find myself crawling into bed each night exhausted but grateful for the experience. Love you both!

  • Love the header photo. Gorgeous! Wonderful slide show. And you brought me quiet with the last photo. Thank you!

  • LuAnn, what an inspiring and hopeful post! Your summer working with Yellowstone sounds like it will be absolutely amazing. I love how they combine all the training and education on such a vast degree of topics. Living in and embracing nature will give your heart and soul plenty of time to listen. I can hardly wait to hear all about what you will learn. Enjoy the magic!

  • Your photos and slide shows are marvelous LuAnn, and have me wandering down memory lane, thinking back on the many trips we made to the park over the years we lived in Montana. The park is an awe inspiring, timeless place where you can disconnect from the anxiety and anger driven 24-hour news loop and re-center yourself. It might be early days yet but I can see that you might be some of the “happy field seminar participants” that make many return trips through the years. Your “forever summer” will be forever etched in your memories! Anita

  • I look forward to seeing you and Terry out in Lamar, LuAnn! It was so good to see you and hear that you will spend the summer in the Secluded Valley (as Osborne Russell called it back in the 1820’s). I hope that you hear many cool things that Yellowstone and the Lamar River have to tell you. See you later this month!

  • Luann, That is so awesome. If I was single, I’d most likely be doing something like that. Thank you for volunteering. We’ll be in Yellowstone this week for two nights (Sunday and Monday) at Old Faithful Lodge Cabins. I’m traveling with my friends and we’ll be walking. How’s the snow on Mt. Washburn? We were hoping to hike to the top, but we figure there’s still too much snow. We’ll be asking rangers when we get up there. Have a wonderful time!!

  • It looks absolutely beautiful there! Especially love all the wildlife you are getting to see so far. Can’t wait to hear more about what you’re learning. Sounds like a great way to spend the summer!

  • I believe you will have the best and most fulfilled summer this year, the reward for giving your time in the wilderness. We would have met up with you too had we not change our plans. Enjoyed your slides and your last phot is so well composed!

  • Absolutely a fantastic read 🙂 we could well be heading down here next week!! Do you know of any good 3-5 night hikes in the park? And get a good chance to see wolves? We have had a few adventures of our own you might enjoy 🙂 check out a few of my reads would love some feedback 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by. I would say that the best thing to do once you get to Yellowstone is to go into a ranger station (spread throughout the park) and speak to a ranger on their suggestions for hikes and where to see wolves. They are kept up to date on where the wolves have most recently been sited. I will be popping over to your site soon to check it out!

      • Thanks LuAnn, well turns out our couch surfing host is a ranger haha, so should have some good knowledge of the park for our stay 🙂 should have a YS post up in the next couple of weeks 🙂 stay tuned

  • Hi, LuAnn. Due to long days and limited bandwidth in Newfoundland this summer, I had to all but give up reading blogs. However, yours is one which I have looked forward to savoring. The Rumi quote gave me chills. Now on to reading about your summer!

    • Thanks Suzanne. We had the same problem this summer so I wasn’t able to keep up with anyone. Then we went on to visit with family. I have lots of material from the summer, now to find the time to blog and catch up with everyone.

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