July 2021 Newsletter
We know you haven't heard from us for a while, but we promise it's for a good reason: WRFI Headquarters has been bustling with activity over the past month as we've had all hands on deck helping to kick off our first full summer season since 2019. In mid-June, we launched three different courses that have been hiking, camping, and biking their way through various Montana landscapes ever since. From coal mines to wind farms, alpine ridgelines to low-lying riparian zones, read on for more of what these intrepid students have been up to:

Our Cycle the Rockies students started their bike tour in Billings, MT, and are now nearing the high point of their journey (literally, the highest elevation they'll bike to) in Glacier National Park. This group has pedaled their way from the oil refineries and ranchlands of central Montana to the state capitol of Helena and on towards the Rocky Mountain Front, where they are currently cycling north to the place where they'll cross the Continental Divide. Throughout their human-powered journey, they have been studying energy production, development, and climate change issues in Montana. Unlike most other WRFI courses, these students are traveling through frontcountry settings with regular cell and internet service, which means we've been able to receive regular student reflections directly from the field. Visit the WRFI Blog to check out our students' thoughts on their experiences so far!

This year's Conservation Across Boundaries students kicked off their course with a backpacking trip in the High Divide region of southwest Montana, before heading into the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem with another backpacking trip in Yellowstone National Park. Students are now halfway through their six-week-long journey from southwest to northwest Montana, where they are studying landscape-level conservation issues that transcend both physical and political boundaries. Through their studies of the area's cultural history, public and private land management, and rural development issues, students have been taking a deep dive into the hopes and threats that surround transboundary conservation in the West. We receive periodic updates between the group's time in backcountry settings, and some of the student reflections we've received are now available to read on the WRFI Blog. Much more to come as they continue onto the second half of their course!

It's hard to believe, but our Restoration Ecology course is wrapping up their time in the field today! A three-week-long course sure goes by fast. Two different backpacking trips in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem allowed these students to get up close and personal with the natural history and ecology of this unique landscape. Between their backcountry expeditions, students met with private landowners, public land managers, activists, and restoration practitioners, exploring different perspectives on what it means to restore pieces of this iconic ecosystem. As they synthesize the experiences they've had on their WRFI course, students will be submitting letters to the steering committee for the UN's Decade on Ecosystem Restoration that highlight insights from their coursework and emphasize their priority goals and objectives for the future of restoration work.
Be a part of our Montana Afoot & Afloat leadership team!
Attention, Montana Afoot & Afloat alumni! Interested in spending fall semester revisiting landscapes from your course? Want to gain experience working alongside a team of WRFI instructors to provide lifechanging experiences for a new group of students? We'd love for you to apply to be an intern on our 2021 Montana Afoot & Afloat course.

**This position is reserved for Montana Afoot & Afloat alumni**

In order to apply, submit a cover letter, resume, and contact info for two references (one of whom should be one of your WRFI instructors) to Executive Director Keri McWilliams at keri@wrfi.net. Your cover letter should address:

  • The most important learning experience from your course
  • Relevant experiences you've had since completing your WRFI course
  • Any concerns you have about the internship
  • Specific skills and experiences you hope to gain from the internship
  • How the internship aligns with your personal/professional goals

View full position description here


It is with a heavy heart that we recognize and honor two WRFI alumni who have recently passed away.
Joel DiBiase (1995–2021) was a student on WRFI's 2019 Restoration Ecology in the Greater Yellowstone course and sadly passed away in April 2021. Joel studied Environmental Science at Humboldt State University and Sacramento State University. He was an avid outdoorsman, rock climber, and adventurer. His passion for the outdoors and his commitment to restoring, conserving, and preserving our public lands was contagious and admirable. His future plans included pursuing work in ecological restoration and backcountry guiding. Joel’s friends and family have created a memorial scholarship in his honor. Funding will be made available beginning in the spring of 2022 for students enrolling in WRFI's Restoration Ecology course. To apply for this scholarship, complete the online application. Joel’s family will be involved in the selection process. To contribute in Joel’s memory to the scholarship fund, please visit this link, click on “I prefer to dedicate my gift to,” and select the option for the Joel DiBiase Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Lindsay Ashton (1996–2021) was a student on WRFI’s 2015 Wild Rockies: Summer Semester course in Montana and Canada. Lindsay passed away from a whitewater kayaking accident on the “Wild Mile” stretch of the Swan River in Bigfork, MT on May 29, 2021. Lindsay attended the University of Montana on a full ride presidential scholarship and graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies in May of 2018. After graduating, Lindsay worked as a wildland firefighter and managed trail crews for the U.S. Forest Service in the summers, spending her winters backcountry skiing and adventuring. In collaboration with the University of Montana, WRFI wishes to establish a memorial scholarship in Lindsay’s honor. To contribute towards this effort, please visit this link and designate your gift in memory of Lindsay Ashton.
While both Lindsay's and Joel’s lives were cut far too short, they set an example for all of us to live each day with intention, purpose, and a sense of wonder. We offer our sincere condolences to all who knew and loved them. WRFI will do our part to ensure that their adventurous spirits and legacies continue for generations to come.

Wild Rockies Field Institute is a 501(c)3 organization. Your gift is fully tax deductible. Our Federal Identification Number is 81-0487425.