The Coca-Cola Foundation awarded Grand Teton National Park Foundation a grant of $34,000 to support the Youth Conservation Program (YCP), a privately-funded teen trail crew that works to improve trails and historic sites in Grand Teton National Park. YCP is a 10 week work-and-learn summer program for 16 to 19-year-olds funded by Grand Teton National Park Foundation as part of an effort to engage the next generation of conservationists and teach students the importance of environmental stewardship.
This is the fourth year that The Coca-Cola Foundation has given to YCP through its competitive grant program that promotes initiatives for active, healthy living, education, and sustainability. This year, the organization generously increased their gift to Grand Teton National Park Foundation, which allowed for additional programming and resources for the trail crew. Every student participated in a two-day Wilderness First Aid course through National Outdoor Leadership School that taught the fundamentals of hands-on, emergency care in the case of injury in the backcountry.
In addition, the increased funding was used to purchase a tool trailer for the crew. With access to tools directly on-site, the crew was able to work more efficiently and focus on execution of their day-to-day projects. Since 2010, The Coca-Cola Company has given $10,000 and The Coca-Cola Foundation has given $84,000 to help grow the YCP program.
“Environmental stewardship, supporting healthy lifestyles and education are three of our Foundation priorities,” said Michele McKillip, Vice President, West Region Public Affairs & Communications, Coca-Cola North America. “The Youth Conservation program combines leadership experiences in conservation and active living, and provides a unique opportunity for summer employment in our treasured Grand Teton National Park.”
YCP has employed 170 students as trail crew members in Grand Teton since the program began in 2006. Through the program, teens experience a unique learning opportunity that helps them develop specific job and life skills. Moreover, program participants cultivate a personal connection to the outdoors. Their work in completing restoration projects on park trails and historic sites in Grand Teton National Park demonstrates both the value and rewards in conservation.
“Coca-Cola’s support has been an important part of YCP’s success over the last four years. Their mission to inspire and create change aligns perfectly with our hopes for these young individuals. Coca-Cola’s increased gift this year was invaluable to this summer’s improvements to YCP and we are so pleased to have been able to offer these resources to the program’s participants,” says Leslie Mattson, president of Grand Teton National Park Foundation.
Summer 2014’s YCP group consisted of 22 teens from around the country. The crew began work in Grand Teton in mid-June and successfully completed a number of projects by summer’s end. Notably, the crew constructed a portion of new trail at Jenny Lake as part of the Foundation’s ongoing Inspiring Journeys campaign.