June 2022 Newsletter
The start of our 2022 summer season has been a testament to the dynamic nature of field education. The devastating floods that affected parts of the Greater Yellowstone region earlier this month have shown us that careful planning and infrastructure are no match for landscape-level forces under the pressure of climate change and less predictable weather patterns. While we have rerouted our Yellowstone-bound courses for the time being, our thoughts are with the communities in the area currently reckoning with a long recovery process. Of course, this iconic landscape is no stranger to disturbance, and we're looking forward to observing the regrowth that will follow.

In the meantime, we're grateful for the new projects and time in guest speaker cabins enabled by our reroutes. Read on for more updates from the field!
It's hard to believe that Cycle the Rockies is already halfway through their course itinerary! After starting their bike tour in Billings, MT two weeks ago, our cyclists have journeyed through sun, wind, and rain, exploring sustainable building, energy production, agricultural climate resilience, and more in the communities they've visited. They will soon be approaching the Rocky Mountain Front for the first time on their tour, and we look forward to hearing about their experiences where the prairie meets the mountains. Check out the WRFI Blog for student insights straight from their bike tour!
Conservation Across Boundaries kicked off their course in the High Divide region of Southwest Montana, where they embarked on a backpacking expedition in the Snowcrest Mountain Range and met with guest speakers who are working on improving habitat connectivity between public and private lands. The next section of their course will take them into the western parts of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, where they will study the implications of managing wildlife species across different federal jurisdictions (national park, national forest, BLM, and national wildlife refuge) as well as three different states (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming). Student insights from this course are also available to read on the WRFI Blog!
Our Restoration Ecology students, despite being flooded out of their original itinerary, have had a full start to their course. Their first week in the field has included a tour of Upper Clark Fork restoration projects, hands-on restoration work with the Big Hole Watershed Committee, and a backcountry adventure in the Tobacco Root Mountains along the western edge of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. More to come as they head into the next section of their course in the Centennial Valley!
WRFI is sad to announce the departure of Maisie Powell from our full-time staff team. After years of involvement as a student, instructor, and organizational leader, Maisie is going to continue her work in the conservation field, working to bring together communities of ranchers, forest users, and land managers in developing collaborative forest use plans in Western Montana and Northern Idaho. We're so very honored that Maisie has spent the last few years building WRFI's field education programs, and we're sure that moving forward she'll stay involvedif you're thinking about Montana Afoot & Afloat for 2023, keep an eye out for her name on our instructor roster! In the meantime, we are working to fill an Interim Field Education Coordinator role for the remainder of the 2022 season. If you're interested, check out a position description here!
2022 marks the 20th year since the passing of Matt Thomas, one of WRFI's founders and a beloved member of this community of place-based, experiential educators. To celebrate Matt's legacy, we set a goal of raising $20,000—$1,000 for every year he's been gone—for our Matt Thomas Scholarship Fund, which supports students on Montana Afoot & Afloat, WRFI's flagship course that Matt designed. We're delighted to report that we've already raised $16,740 towards our goal!

Visit our Matt Thomas Scholarship Tribute page to donate to our fundraiser, contribute a photo or memory of Matt, and connect with others who knew him well. With your help, we will enable more students to participate in Matt's vision of place-based learning in the Rocky Mountains. Thank you for helping us to celebrate the life and work of this extraordinary human!
Wild Rockies Field Institute is a 501(c)3 organization. Your gift is fully tax deductible. Our Federal Identification Number is 81-0487425.