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.
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.
“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.