Summer has finally arrived in Wyoming and I could not be happier! So much has happened over the last few months in the life of Friends of the Bridger-Teton (FBT). Because of how you have supported us, we have been able to make some great progress towards our 2023 goals.
In the last two months, we:
- Were awarded $750,000 through the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board. This money will go towards the long-term sustainability of FBT’s Ambassador for Recreate Responsibly program in Teton County.
- Welcomed four new Board members.
- Hired two wonderful Program Coordinators and added some contract staff
Can you believe all of this has happened and it’s only the Beginning of July? I cannot wait to see what the rest of 2023 has for us.
Scott Kosiba, Executive Director
NEW BOARD MEMBERS
Since the start of 2023, four new BFFs of the BTNF have joined out board.
Ian MacLeod and his wife Paige first visited Jackson Hole in the mid-1990s, hitting it as part of a road trip from Maryland’s Eastern Shore with the goal of visiting as many national parks as possible. They stayed in Grand Teton National Park, spending a week camping at Jenny Lake. They fell in love with the area and dreamed about a time in the future when they could come back and spend meaningful time here. Ian and Paige moved to Jackson Hole full-time in 2020. In the years between, Ian and Paige lived and raised their children in Northern California. Ian built a career as an advisor/investor focused on technology and Paige pursued her passion to teach environmental education. Both Paige and Ian were actively involved in education and environmental nonprofit initiatives in the Bay Area as volunteers and board members. “One of the most exciting opportunities around FBT is the ‘start-up’ nature and the opportunity to work closely with Scott and the board to help FBT refine and execute on its strategic vision to support this incredible asset,” Ian says. While Ian works to help the FBT, Paige volunteers with our neighboring public land, Grand Teton National Park, helping visitors at String and Jenny Lake find their way around, learn about the area, and recreate responsibly. “National forests and parks are for everyone—regardless of their backgrounds,” Ian says. “There’s nothing else that has the power to bring people together like national forests and parks.”
Gracy Carpenter grew up hiking, skiing, and exploring the BTNF from her backyard in the foothills of the Wyoming Range. “My parents are former NOLS instructors; spending time outside on the forest was just life when I was a kid,” Gracy says. In high school and college she worked on the trail crew for the BTNF’s Pinedale Ranger District and says this gave her added appreciation for the BTNF. (It was also while on trail crew that Gracy met her now-husband Scott). The two spent time in California after Gracy finished college in the Bay Area, but, “when we had our first child we moved back to Wyoming because it is such a wonderful place to raise a family,” she says. Prior to joining the Friends board, Gracy taught preschool at BOCES Early Education Program (BEEP) in Pinedale for two years. During this time she designed and spearheaded a pilot program, “Forest Fridays,” that took a whole class of three-year-olds outside. “Showing super young learners that they are a part of the environment as opposed to outside of it—it was awesome to witness their responses,” she says.
“As a Sublette County native and resident/recreator, I am committed to increasing engagement with Friends throughout Sublette County from tourists to local community members and organizations,” Gracy says. “I hope my background in science, a range of experiences in collaborating, respect for life-long education, and true passion for the conservation of the BTNF will be assets to the board.”
Before joining the Friends Board, Sharon Smitherman worked for more than 12 years as the BTNF’s Budget Officer. (She retired from this in 2022.) Prior to that Sharon worked for the Department of Defense for more than 18 years supporting U.S. Navy programs around the world and also worked for the FAA as a project manager for an on-ground monitoring system. In private industry, Sharon worked as a project manager for an air traffic monitoring system for the Royal Norwegian Air Force. “My professional experience provided me with the opportunity to work with people from many diverse backgrounds and learn what we have in common,” Sharon says. “We all share a desire to have fun.”
Sharon and her husband Dan started recreating on the forest in 1989, when they vacationed in Jackson Hole for the first time. They moved to Jackson Hole full-time in 2005 and to Bondurant in XXYEAR. Sharon’s Bondurant home is adjacent to the forest. “We ride out our back gate and are in the forest,” she says. “We ride out our back gate to get our Christmas tree, to hunt, and to camp.” As an FBT board member, Sharon says she hopes to foster better management of recreation in the front country areas and to foster education so the public can recreate more responsibly and respectfully and enjoy their recreational experience on the BTNF.
It’s not just our board with new faces; we have five new staff and consultants.
Margo Feingold and Jennifer Ricupero started in June as program coordinators. Jennifer works out of the Pinedale District and Margo out of the Jackson and Blackrock Districts.
Jennifer Ricupero and her dog Otto, a 95-pound Labrador retriever, moved to Pinedale in January 2023 from New York’s Adirondack Mountains, where she grew up canoeing, fishing, hiking, and snowshoeing in the Adirondack Park. (At almost 6 million acres, this park, which was founded by New York State in 1892, is almost twice as big as the BTNF!) “I took an active role in protecting the Park and educating its visitors and I hope to continue my love of nature here in Wyoming,” Jennifer says. “I always wanted to explore the West and its vast landscapes.”
Jennifer has Bachelor’s of Science degrees in Recreation and Leisure Management and in Business Management. She earned a Master’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Education from Boston University. Prior to moving to Pinedale, Jennifer was director at women’s retreat in Vermont, where she guided recreational activities, fitness, and nutrition. Later, in Florida’s Everglades and along the South Carolina Coast, Jennifer guided running, kayaking, and fishing trips. “I have guided many a cityslicker in the ways of Leave No Trace Principles,” she says. She’s excited to join Friends of the Bridger-Teton because “it’s an opportunity to protect and promote sustainability of the flora and fauna of the National Forest for generations to come.”
Margo Feingold joins Friends after almost two years of working as a field instructor at Teton Science Schools. A native of Massachusetts, Margo earned a master’s degree in Conservation and Policy (her thesis was about the Yellowstone model of creating national parks). She grew up spending summers in Maine and in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, and was excited to move West. “I had written a lot about the West, and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but hadn’t explored it in that much depth myself,” she says.
At TSS, Margo took students ranging in age from 8 to 95 into the field to learn about canoeing, snowshoeing, hiking, cross country skiing, ecology, and wildlife. “My goal was always to create connection through education,” she says. “I wanted students to feel connected to this area, but also to nature in general, so that this was something they could take home with them.”
Margo says she is excited for work for FBT because it gives her an opportunity to contribute to the legacy of the forest and to help aid and educate visitors so they can have the best and safest experience every time they visit. Her favorite way to explore the BTNF is hiking. “I love biking and skiing, but hiking is really my true love she says.”
Dina Mishev started helping us with press releases and blog posts in May 2022 and this past June stepped up to take a bigger role leading our communications and outreach. Her goals include making Friends of the Bridger-Teton a household name in northwestern Wyoming and raising awareness of how vast and varied the BTNF is. Dina has lived in Jackson since 1997 and worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2000. Her writing appears in Outside, Afar, AARP, and The Washington Post, among other publications. She also writes about outdoor adventure for the Jackson Hole News&Guide. In 2020 she was one of 4 finalists for the Global Travel Writer of the Year. Dina is the editor of Jackson Hole magazine and has written three books about Wyoming and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Many of the hikes in her 2017 book, Best Easy Day Hikes Jackson Hole are in the BTNF. The first-ever hike she did on the forest—the day after arriving in Jackson from Chicago—was up Snow King. “It kicked my ass,” she says. She still hikes or skis up Snow King several times a week (although it no longer kicks her ass every time), but she now has the skills, experience, and desire to explore less trafficked places deeper in the forest. Share BTNF happenings and your adventures on the forest (especially if you have photos she can share on social media) with Dina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elise Mahaffie is a graphic designer and oil painter. She began helping us with design in May, creating the eye-catching and gorgeous “BFF of the BTNF” ads that have been running in the Jackson Hole Daily and the Jackson Hole News&Guide since early June. Originally from the Washington D.C. area, Elise and her husband Jim now live in Teton Village. Elise is the art director of Jackson Hole magazine; as an artist she enjoys painting wildlife. “When you first spot one of those large animals, you feel that initial exhilaration,” she says. “Then, you just stop, quiet down, and watch. I hope the viewer finds a similar connection with the animals I paint.” In 2023, Southwest Art magazine named Elise as one of three “artists to watch,” writing that viewers are likely to feel a connection to her work given her “striking, almost chiseled-looking paintings that feature bold linear strokes, hard edges, close cropping and interlocking, jigsaw puzzle-type shapes.” Elise participates in the annual National Museum of Wildlife Art’s Plein Air Fest, Etc. [https://www.wildlifeart.org/]
When not painting or crunching on magazine and ad deadlines, you can find Elise walking along the Snake River levee with her two Bernese Mountain dogs, Vivian and Boomer. If not there, she is skiing, hiking, or biking.
Lisa Gerber is a story strategist and communications expert who works with purpose-driven leaders to connect with the communities they serve and influence action through effective storytelling. “I help brilliant people talk about their work in a way that gets others to care about it,” she says. For the past two years, she has worked with Scott and FBT to secure funding, build capacity to implement the Recreate Responsibly Program, and craft messages that reach the most critical audiences. She is the author of From So What? To So Funded: How nonprofits use story to create impact and change the world and hosts the podcast Breaking Trail where she speaks with leaders in the nonprofit sector. Lisa also volunteers as director of strategy for the nonprofit Their Story is Our Story: Amplifying the Voice of Refugees. When not in her office, she is hopefully out ski touring, trail running, or mountain biking with her husband and dogs. “That’s where I do my best creative work,” she says.
JACKSON HOLE TRAVEL & TOURISM GRANT
In 2022, Friends of the Bridger-Teton was the recipient of the largest-ever grant given by the JHTTB, $1 million. This allowed us to significantly expand our Ambassadors for Responsible Recreation Program and educational messaging about responsible recreation, among other things. In early June of this year, the JHTTB showed its belief in our work by granting us an additional $750,000. “These grants are the primary reasons that we’ve been able to help the forest as much as we have,” executive director Scott Kosiba says.
Two upcoming community fundraising events do a partial match of any donation you make to Friends of the Bridger-Teton and a third increases awareness of FBT across the state. If you have plans to give this year, please consider making your donation through one of these events.
WYO Gives is a 24-hour statewide, online fundraising event created by the Wyoming Nonprofit Network. Its goal is to bring the Cowboy State together as one community to raise money for and awareness of more than 250 of Wyoming’s nonprofits. WYO Gives is entirely online and runs from 12 a.m. July 12–11:59 July 12. Donate at wyogives.org.
OLD BILL’S FUN RUN FOR CHARITIES
Donate August 11–September 15; Race September 9
What it is: 2023 marks the 27th year of this community run and fundraiser that annually engages thousands of people and about 200 nonprofits that work in Teton County, Wyoming. There are timed 5K and 10K runs and an untimed 1-mile fun run. Up to $30,000 in gifts designated for specific organizations are eligible for partial matching grants.
When and how to donate: The Old Bill’s giving season is August 11–September 15. Donate at the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole’s website here. The donation platform allows you to search for nonprofits by name or category.
Event details: The 27th annual Old Bill’s Fun Run for Charities is September 9, 2023 at the Jackson Hole Elementary School Fields; registration for all races is free. Non-runners can enjoy perusing informational booths of many of the participating nonprofits.
PINEDALE HALF MARATHON
Donate July 1–September 23; Race September 19
What it is: The 19th annual Pinedale Half Marathon is a fundraiser for nonprofits doing work in Sublette County. Foundation 23 partnered with the race and every donation made to a Sublette County nonprofit—up to a total of $5,000—during the fundraising campaign is matched using funds from Foundation 23’s matching funds pool.
When and How to Donate: The giving season is July 1–September 23, 2023. Donate directly by credit card here or by check (Foundation 23 PO Box 2135, Pinedale, WY 82941). All checks must be made payable to “Foundation 23;” please write “Friends of the Bridger-Teton” on the memo line. Credit card donors should select “Friends of the Bridger-Teton” in the online drop down menu.
Event Details: The Pinedale Half Marathon & 10K are September 16. (There is also a 1 mile fun run for all ages.) Between now and the end of August, the entry fee for the half marathon and 10K is $45. After September 1 the entry fee is $55. $5 from every entry fee goes to a Sublette County nonprofit of your choice. Register here.