Eleven Pura Vida (PV) middle school students enjoyed the beauty of Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) this past month by exploring, hiking, canoeing, learning, and participating in service projects . This program continues to help address common barriers encountered by Latinos in national parks—multigenerational family-friendly recreation, cost, and unfamiliarity with spending time in nature.
Led by Millie Jimenez, outreach and volunteer coordinator for GTNP, with help from GTNP interns Alejandro and Jenni (former PV high school students), and an intern from Teton Science Schools, these students had an action-packed week. Some of the highlights included helping the String Lake Brigade, which patrols this very popular recreational area to help keep people and their food away from bears looking for treats. Participants learned how to use bear spray and one group saw a black bear!
They also went to the Mormon Row Historic District in the park where they worked with a group of American Indian high school students from the Tribal Youth Corps (TYC)—a new program in Grand Teton established in partnership with the Montana Conservation Corps. With a little bit of experience under their belts, the TYC crew helped the PV participants learn how to roll barbed wire fencing that will be replaced with wildlife friendly fencing.
One of the goals of PV is to expose Latino youth to possible career opportunities within the National Park Service. They listened to a presentation on wildlife research in the park from Chief Wildlife Biologist David Gustine. They also learned about being an interpretive ranger while attending an informative talk about horns and antlers at Gros Ventre campground amphitheater. They not only learned but also had a good time.
To finish the week, the students went on a challenge hike around Phelps Lake. They were rewarded with a rest at a gorgeous Wyoming beach on the lake shore.
This impactful program is possible thanks to the generosity of many individuals, corporations, and foundations. A special thanks goes out to the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole’s Youth Philanthropy program, which provided funding for the programs this summer.
PV has been reaching Latino students in Jackson Hole since 2010. To learn more about Pura Vida, click here.