Youth Education Programs

Teton Regional Land Trust began to explore youth educational opportunities early in its conception and continues to strive to connect our region’s youth to the natural world. We strongly believe that education is an important component of our work and that by educating kids on conservation and stewardship we can sustain connections between people and the land that will carry on for generations.

In 2007, we partnered with Teton Nordic Club and offered several Nordic Naturalist ski events on conserved properties in Teton Valley. Children toured the conservation easements in search of signs of wildlife with help from Teton Regional Land Trust and Idaho Fish & Game staff. Wildlife and wildlife signs observed included trumpeter swan, grouse, mice and voles, porcupine, muskrat, and moose. Each skier received a Nordic naturalist card with which they could keep track of all the wildlife signs they found while skiing. Each child who took a total of three trips and filled out their card, received a Nordic naturalist pin to help them commemorate their wildlife observation work. These Nordic Naturalist skis were held each year and endured until 2015.

Also in 2007, Teton Regional Land Trust created a scholarship in honor of Michael B. Whitfield.  Michael’s commitment to land conservation in eastern Idaho has been instrumental in the protection of key landscapes in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. This scholarship program ensures that students, regardless of their financial ability, can pursue a career in conservation. Candidates are eligible to receive $1,000-2,000 toward their educational endeavors and must show an intention to pursue a major course of study in college or vocational school in the environmental sciences, biology, ecology, environmental planning or policy, agriculture, or a related field. Applications for the scholarship are due in April each year and reviewing them is something the staff always looks forward to. Maybe one of the awardees will come work with us one day!

Since 2013 the Land Trust, in partnership with Idaho Fish & Game, US Fish & Wildlife, the Wyoming Wetlands Society, and The Trumpeter Swan Society, has released a number of Trumpeter Swan cygnets on suitable, conserved wetlands. The swans are banded or tagged. The hope is that they can be tracked and that they might return each year to Teton Valley to raise their own young. Depending on when the release happens, the Land Trust tries to invite a group of students to attend the release. Students get a lesson from a staff member on swans and their ecosystem, the chance to look closely at or even hold a young swan (they’re big!), and be a part of an important project that might shape the patterns of an iconic species. Kids who attend the releases are encouraged to look out for the tagged swans and report any possible sightings.

Raptors on the Ranch, held in 2012 and 2013, was a free event held at Six Springs Ranch in Driggs, where Teton Raptor Center brought over some of their feathered advocates to give flight demonstrations and to celebrate and learn all about our region’s birds of prey.

Our Woods Creek Fen outdoor classroom is open to the public! While we are not offering formal instruction, we do have it open for groups to use.

As part of the Teton Regional Land Trust’s Valley Venture Education program in 1999-2007, children explored educational stations filled with science. In the fall, 5th-grade students in Teton Valley visited Treasure Mountain Boy Scout Camp, while 5th graders in Fremont County visited the Chester Wetlands, as the first half of a two-part educational series that gives children a chance to explore the outdoors and learn about nature. In the spring, the same Teton County fifth grade students explored the Wood’s Creek Fen outdoor classroom. Our eastern Idaho students live in such a remarkable place and we hope their adventures encouraged understanding of their local environment and interest in future exploration of this very special place.

In addition, teacher trunks have been an effective tool to connect our local youth to our local ecosystem. The teacher trunks originated in 2009 and have been enjoyed by students and teachers for more than a decade. Thanks to grant support from the Community Foundation of Teton Valley Youth Philanthropy program, Battelle Energy Alliance, Intermountain Aquatics, Richard Grundler, and Nancy Winter, we have created a series of four Teacher Trunks and lesson plans- Winter Ecology, Raptors of Teton Valley, Woods Creek Fen, and Big Birds of Teton Valley (Sandhill Cranes and Trumpeter Swans)

In 2019, Joselin and Hilary created a program, Cranes in the Classroom, that utilized a script and an art project to deliver an in-person lesson about Sandhill Cranes and why our region is so important to their long-term survival. When Covid-19 hit in 2020, we switched gears a bit and created a virtual presentation that made it easier and safer to present the materials. We continue to offer Cranes in the Classroom programs each year.

The Land Trust will continue to seek out opportunities to connect with and educate the youth in our region so that future generations may know the beauty and importance of the natural world around us, so that they may love it and protect it.

For more information about our Teacher Trunks or Youth Education, please visit our Education page here on our website or reach out to Mandy at

Photo  by Rick Budde (2012)