Conservation Education

Facilitating meaningful experiences for kids in their environment.

The Conservation Education Program operates in the greater Troy area, working with students from the Troy public school district, the rural schools, and with homeschooled students. The program teaches in-class, as well as extracurricular activities, that focus on nature and place-based concepts. The program takes a multi-disciplinary approach to introducing students to the themes of environment and community. The goal is to increase the critical thinking skills, ecological literacy, community engagement and positive experiences in the outdoors of students, leading to environmental and civic minded graduates.

Hiking Club

Summer Programs

Girls Hikes – During the summer months, the Conservation Education Program sponsors and leads a series of hikes for junior high and high school girls. The day hikes all take place within a five minute drive from Troy, skirting the Cabinet Wilderness and the Yaak Valley. YVFC has also partnered with Troy High School and the US Forest Service to offer multi-day trail restoration projects for the high school students.

Water Camp -Taking an active role in the development of local students and their understanding of water ecology, the YVFC has been able to offer a two-day ‘Watershed Ecology Daycamp’ since 2015. The camp includes presentations by local experts from the US Forest Service, MT Fish wildlife and Parks, the Lincoln County Conservation District, the City of Troy, and our own Headwaters Crew. The middle-school age students have learned about many aspects of water including waste-water treatment, hydropower, wildlife biology and water ethics all while exploring local water sources including the Kootenai River, Callahan Creek, and the Roosevelt Park Fish Pond. In 2017, we began incorporating hands-on streamside restoration work in the Yaak Valley. We look forward to continuing to offer Troy students meaningful experiences in their environment.
The 2019 Water Camp will take place on July 23rd, 24th and 25th ,  at the Old Slyvanite School, Yaak. For more information about the camp, please e-mail Shawna at

Montana Natural Resources Youth Camp (MNRYC) – Beginning in 2016, the Yaak Valley Forest Council began facilitating local participation in the MNRYC, a week-long residential summer camp that takes place at Lubrecht Experimental Forest near Greenough, Montana. Through hands-on learning at the camp, the students become familiar with “biological principles of sustainable ecosystems, stewardship of working landscapes and personal growth and leadership.” For more information about the YVFC tuition and travel assistance, contact Shawna at  To learn more about the camp, visit

Learning Garden

Since the spring of 2009, the YVFC has sponsored a school garden located on the playground of Morrison Elementary School in Troy, Montana. The garden is planted and managed by Morrison Elementary students, the Altacare therapy program, and students in the garden club in the afterschool program.

The students take great pride in their garden work, learning about plant life cycles, worms, soil, and teamwork. The garden harvest is used in the school’s cafeteria, donated to the local food pantry, sold to raise money for the garden at the farmers market, and, of course, eaten by the little gardeners!

For more information about the Conservation Education Program, please contact Shawna Kelsey, the program coordinator, at

Learning Garden

Citizen Science

We are currently participating in the ground floor development of large-scale huckleberry research project headed up by Dr. Tabitha Graves of the US Geological Survey. The study is encouraging everyday people like you to get out in the woods and take simple observations of huckleberry bushes that will identify what influences the timing and success of huckleberry development across the inland Northwest.

From 2015 – 2018, we will coordinate and train citizen scientists of all ages to visit specific huckleberry bushes several times over the growing season and record information on basic weather, presence of pollinators, and the number of berries on the bushes that are in each stage of ripening. This information will be used to project the future range and condition of huckleberries, which is an integral part of not only the rural culture and economy of Northwest Montana, but the recovery and existence of grizzly bears across the western United States.
We continue seeking funding for a variety of Citizen Science opportunities for our community. If you are interested in the program, please contact Lisa Mountain at