“The BTNF belongs to the public, but often the average citizen just doesn’t know what they should have with them. You can hike in flip-flops, but that doesn’t make it safe. I like that the Friends of the Bridger-Teton works so much on education. Since these lands belong to everyone, everyone should have the opportunity to learn how to safely enjoy them,” Sharon says.
Sharon Smitherman joined the Friends Board in 2023, shortly after she retired from more than 12 years as the BTNF’s Budget Officer. Sharon and her husband Dan started recreating on the forest in 1989, the first year they vacationed in Jackson Hole (they lived in upstate New York at the time). After this first trip, they visited Jackson annually and eventually bought a condo here with the intention of moving to the valley after they retired. “But every time we came out here, it was harder and harder for us to go back home,” Sharon says. So they didn’t wait until they retired to move: They quit their jobs in 2004 and moved to Jackson Hole full-time in early 2005. Sharon’s first job here was in real estate. She was hired as the BTNF’s Budget Officer in 2010. Dan was an outfitter with permits in the Wind River Range, Wyoming Range, and the Teton Wilderness, and later became State Director for The Wilderness Society. “The BTNF is important to us,” Sharon says. “For some time both of our jobs were associated with the Forest. Now that we’re retired, we just have more time to recreate and enjoy it.” The couple’s home in Bondurant is adjacent to the forest. “We ride out our back gate and are in the forest,” Sharon says. “We ride out our back gate to get our Christmas tree, to hunt, and to camp.”
Sharon joined the Friends’ Board because, “the forest doesn’t receive funding for everything it wants to do,” she says. “With the help of Friends of the Bridger-Teton, the BTNF can get a lot accomplished, whether that’s installing fire rings, or increasing awareness and educating visitors about responsible recreation. I’ve spent many years hiking, camping, horseback riding, skiing, and hunting on the Bridger-Teton and want to help sustain this precious resource for my four kids, eight grandkids, and the rest of the public that this land belongs to.”
5 Things Sharon ALWAYS Brings on a Horseback Ride:
1. Bear spray
3. Rain gear
4. Food and snacks
5. First aid kit