Y2Y volunteers share stories of wildlife and people sharing space in the Yellowstone-to-Yukon region during summer 2020 program pilot

Tenaya Lynx is Y2Y’s volunteer co-ordinator and loves incorporating her local knowledge and passion for mountain culture into her work.

In summer 2020, Tenaya worked with Y2Y’s first Team Thrive volunteers in their roles as online storytellers and she provided this overview of the program and our amazing volunteers.

Team Thrive online storytellers have just concluded their time with the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative! We’re sad to see them go, but I am excited to share some of their achievements with you.

Team Thrive‘s online storytellers are a collective of volunteers who engage in the art of storytelling to educate and inspire positive change for nature and people. They are passionate Y2Y supporters who have volunteered their time each week to share stories on their personal love for wildlife and wild places; the unique conservation importance of their local area; and actions others can take that will help people to better share space with wildlife.

“Volunteering with Team Thrive was a wonderful way to connect with the community. It was also a perfect opportunity to spend time learning more about the research and conservation projects in the Y2Y region!”

— Galen Pearce, Team Thrive storytelling volunteer, summer 2020

Y2Y started its first-ever pilot volunteer program in summer 2020. Team Thrive has started small, but has no doubt had a much larger impact. Due to the pandemic, we were unable to have administrative or on-the-ground volunteers as part of Team Thrive this year, but look forward to opening up these opportunities in the future.

Helping people and wildlife share space in Alberta’s Bow Valley

This year brought hardships to people all across the Yellowstone-to-Yukon region, making the positive power of volunteering even more important. So this year, Team Thrive volunteers helped their Instagram followers look inwards and examine habits that could negatively affect wildlife in the Bow Valley and beyond.

Volunteers shared stories about the Three Sisters wildlife corridor, geotagging, the challenges of educating and enforcing safety guidelines around wildlife, and numerous other pressing issues that affect a plethora of species.

We hope that by having volunteers post to their personal social media accounts, it will help nurture critical conversations that all residents and visitors to wild places should be engaging in.

In order to achieve our mission of people and nature thriving, we need everyone to be on board with the big, bold idea of connecting and protecting habitat from Yellowstone to Yukon. To do this, it’s important to share what living with wildlife means on an individual level so that we can collectively do better.

I asked each volunteer to choose their favorite post from one of their fellow Team Thrive volunteers. Check out some of their posts!

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🌞 🐻 🐻 🐻 Sunrises and sunsets amplify the beauty of the mountains (if that’s even possible?!) and give us the opportunity to have a trail or area all to ourselves (who doesn’t want that?) Unsurprisingly, full moon, sunset, and sunrise hikes have become very popular lately. The next time you’re planning a sunset or sunrise hike do a little research to understand the importance of the area for elk, bears, caribou, wolves or other wildlife – is it identified as a critical wildlife corridor? Are wildlife commonly spotted in the area during the day? Consider how you might plan your trip to ensure avoiding a potential wildlife conflict. Wildlife have come to associate the sun setting as “human-free time”, a time when they get to wander and forage more freely. As night running, hiking, and skiing become more mainstream, the amount of time that the animals get the mountains all to themselves will get significantly reduced. Our recreation patterns have impacts on the wildlife who call the mountains home 🏠 We all need to start to understand what that means and how we can do our best to minimize that impact. Looking for a way to get involved? Consider taking @y2y_initiative ‘s Bear Spray Pledge and give animals the space they need this summer! ▶️: https://y2y.net/blog/take-the-y2y-bear-safe-pledge/ #explorey2y #y2yregion #livingwithwildlife #staywild #wildlifeconservation #wildlife #parkscanada #myjasper #jaspernationalpark #cpawssab @y2y_initiative @cpawssab @albertawildernessassociation @parks.canada

A post shared by Kristine O'Rielly (@kmorielly) on

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ROOM TO ROAM – The story of Pluie, a female Grey Wolf is closely tied to the philosophy and formation of the Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative. In June 1991 Pluie was equipped with a GPS radio collar in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park by the World Wildlife Fund. Prior to using radio collar tracking, researchers knew wolves commonly dispersed from their natal packs but evidence of their travel plans was largely circumstantial and unreliable. When researchers collared Pluie they probably had little expectation about the information it would produce. . . . . Sporting her new collar, Pluie embarked on an impressive journey southward that ultimately covered 100,000 square kilometers in 2 provinces and 3 states before returning to Kootenay National Park. This data was tangible evidence of the scale of landscapes used by migrating wildlife. Pluie’s travels traversed 30 political jurisdictions over an area 10 times larger than Yellowstone NP and 15 times larger than Banff NP. . . . . The shear scale of Pluie’s adventure raised the bar on the scope of thinking necessary to properly support wildlife conservation in the Rocky Mountains and it greatly influenced the foundational philosophy of Y2Y. A trans-border strategy of connectivity between protected areas will preserve and restore the traversible corridors that are essential to many wild species. . . . . @y2y_initiative #y2yregion #explorey2y #myalberta #rockymountains @wolfmattersorg @wildlifedefenceleague #conservation #wolvesofinstagram #worldofwolves #wildlifeconservation #discoverwildlife #enjoycanada #sharecangeo #conservethewonder #ournature @ncc_cnc #canadianrockies

A post shared by Donald Surphlis (@donsurphlis) on

We are grateful for the time and effort that our amazing volunteers Kristine, Don, Galen and Alex spent connecting their followers to issues that impact both wildlife and people in the Yellowstone-to-Yukon region.

Just like Team Thrive volunteers, we encourage all Y2Y supporters to engage in meaningful conversations about issues facing the region as well as share action items with friends, family, and followers. We believe that each person has the power to enact change, so we invite everyone to get involved.

All of us here at Y2Y would like to thank our passionate and dedicated volunteers for engaging in such important topics and making everyone more aware on how they can change the world for the better. It has been an honor having you all on Team Thrive!

Interested in becoming a Team Thrive volunteer with Y2Y? Stay tuned for the next application period!

Header photo: Team Thrive summer 2020 volunteers Galen, Alex and Don (Kristine not pictured) pose during our physically-distanced wrap-up celebration (Tenaya Lynx)