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Message from the Director,

It is simply hard to comprehend that yet another summer in Yellowstone has come and gone. As with any summer in Yellowstone, recent months have been filled with magic, adventure, brilliant thunderstorms, and memorable times on the rivers, mountains and trails of Yellowstone Country. Any questions as to whether autumn had firmly gripped the region were answered the third week in September, when YCG board member Nathan Varley and I were in the midst of a wondrous backcountry sojourn to the enigmatic labyrinth that is the Hoodoo Basin. After a grueling and memorable post-sunset hike into our campsite the night before, our hopes to summit Indian Peak were quickly dashed as a major storm threatened to take over the every mountain, meadow and drainage in site. Just before the onslaught descended upon all of Yellowstone, with equal parts angst and haste, we were able to summit Hoodoo Peak--and then it hit, Equinox Storm 2011. If you want to join such adventures, you should also buy letter of recommendation from to have a good proof of your persistence and desire to develop!

Despite having spent the majority of our remaining time in the mysterious Hoodoo Basin hunkered down in a floorless shelter—or perhaps because of it--we relished our final day as we slogged through four inches of fresh snow en route to one more summit and a long expansive ridgeline before descending back into the welcoming forest of the upper Sunlight Basin. Yet another symbol of the powerful, wild and rugged nature that is Yellowstone, one day it was summer and the next welcomed the beginning of one of Yellowstone's most glorious seasons. Change can be difficult for all of us, transitions are sometimes a struggle. But Yellowstone, the great teacher that she is, somehow manages to almost seamlessly transition from one season to the next without missing a beat.

The last five months have been filled with inspiring programs, engaged teenagers, committed citizens, transitions, change, growth and excitement for the YCG crew. I couldn't be more excited to share these successes and stories in this issue of Deep Roots. The summer kicked off with my opening keynote address at the Montana Teen Summit in June, and led directly into our collaboration with C5 Youth Foundation out of Atlanta, GA, which led us to our annual fundraiser, where a great number of Yellowstone Country residents turned out to support YCG on the eve of our second annual River Guardian Fly Fishing School. This year we provided 18 teenagers with $1,300 scholarships to participate in a week-long program that was off the hook. The impact of this powerful program was clear each and every day, but it was amplified with emotional closing testimony from student participants, who shared what it means to be a part of the YCG family and a River Guardian of the lifeblood of Yellowstone Country.

We are just about to kick-off our third Yellowstone Leadership Challenge, which will once again bring together a diverse collection of local teens for a three-day program filled with adventure, wildlife-focused service projects, leadership development, and lively discussions of local issues in our effort to inspire the next wave of Yellowstone Country Guardians.

Just as the snow began to fly throughout Yellowstone Country, the winds of change coursing throughout the region touched the YCG family as we opened a new office in our new headquarters of Livingston, Montana. After ten summers and seven years in Gardiner, it was hard for my family to leave the place that inspired the vision of YCG through my time as a YNP park ranger and the head boys' basketball coach at Gardiner High; but we always felt Livingston would make the ideal central location for YCG and we are thrilled to be in the original gateway to Yellowstone National Park.

Known across the globe as a fly fishing Mecca, Livingston is so much more than another destination. This small town, nestled on the banks of the Yellowstone River at the foot of the Absarokas, has an authentic charm all its own. We have grown to absolutely love this artsy, gritty, eclectic and vibrant community that has shown so much love and support to YCG over the years; and we look forward with great anticipation to representing the Livingston community. The change in location is symbolic of the growth that has taken place over the course of the last four years for our organization. We look forward to continuing to have a strong presence in the Gardiner community, while extending our reach throughout the region. So next time you are in Livingston, please stop by and check out our new base-camp.

With Nothin’ But Love,
Michael Leach, Director and Founder

Our spring and early summer YCG Road Tour was a big success and the growth of YCG was on full display throughout the summer as we hosted and collaborated with C5 and Big Sky Youth Empowerment to create opportunities for hundreds of teens from across the region and around the country to experience the wildness and spirit of Yellowstone…

River Guardian Fly Fishing School 2011:

This year's program was a big hit for 18 high school aged students from Park and Gallatin Counties. This diverse collection of spirited young people came together as individuals and left as an inspired team of River Guardians. Throughout the course of the five-day program students learned about the water and watersheds that are the lifeblood of Yellowstone Country through lessons in watershed ecology, riparian habitat, trout behavior, the trout environment, aquatic invasive nuisance species, and much more that will give each participant the ability and understanding to become a guardian of the Yellowstone watershed. Students were introduced to the art of fly fishing and after getting on the water each day to pursue trout, they were rewarded with a full-day float with nine of the best guides the region has to offer.

To read more about the 2011 RGFFS or to take a journey through each day of this exciting program please visit our Field Journal Blog at:

Special River Guardian Fly Fishing School 2011 Thank You:

We want to extend a special "with nothin' but love" shout out and thank you to our supporters who helped make this inspiring program a reality for 18 deserving teens.

YCG Road Tour:
It was an exciting late spring/summer for the 2011 YCG Road Tour as quite a buzz was created and support generated as YCG Director and Founder Michael Leach hit the road with his Yellowstone "sermon." We want to send a special thanks to Missoula and Bozeman REI, Timber Trails, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, Grizzly Creek Ranch and the Wildside for helping to spread the YCG message by bringing us in to share the Yellowstone story and our efforts to inspire guardians of the region.

We also want to thank the folks at the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program and the University of Montana who invited Michael to share his story as the founder of YCG and head boys' basketball coach at Gardiner High as the opening keynote speaker at the Montana ReAct Teen Summit.

Music in the Park Fundraiser:
With dozens of volunteers and our amazing network of sponsors and supporters, we are thrilled to provide this transformational opportunity to the youth of the region. There was a palpable and inspiring energy and upbeat atmosphere that filled Arch Park at our summer concert fundraiser. We want to send mad props and a very special thanks to Anna Holloway and the Tumbleweed Bookstore and Café and Montana Whitewater for sponsoring this event. We also want to thank all of our tireless volunteers for all of their efforts in making this such a successful event.

To read more about our fundraiser and to see photos this beautiful night under the monarch of Electric Peak please visit:


C5 Foundation ? Since his time with the NPS, Michael Leach has had the opportunity to work with the young, inspired and inspiring inner-city youth of C5. So we were extremely excited to begin collaborating with C5 in 2010 and even more enthused to grow our collaboration throughout the summer of 2011. Over the course of the summer Michael had the opportunity to lead, with C5 staff, six different groups of 30-45 urban youth from Atlanta, Boston and Dallas on a passion-filled day that began with Michael sharing a high energy motivational presentation followed by an educational tour of YNP with an emphasis on grizzly bear conservation. We are already getting jacked about 2012. We want to especially thank Zach Terakedis for making this happen, his awesome staff and AMAZING youth participants who most definitely left their mark on Yellowstone and YCG this summer.

Big Sky Youth Empowerment ? We couldn't be more excited about our growing collaboration with our friends from BYEP. This is a perfect partnership as we are both edgy, contemporary organizations that are working to inspire the teenagers of Park and Gallatin Counties. Once again this summer BYEP lent us three of their awesome Suburbans to support our five-day River Guardian Fly Fishing School. Two weeks after the conclusion of our big River G program, YCG Director Michael Leach, the amazing Dave Granger (BYEP Program Director) and their core of volunteers, led students from Belgrade and Bozeman on a weekend educational/motivational tour of Yellowstone National Park. Much love BYEP!

Yellowstone Leadership Challenge 2011:

We are in the midst of gearing up and planning for our upcoming Yellowstone Leadership Challenge held at Dome Mountain Ranch, in the beautiful Paradise Valley, from October 21st-23rd. We couldn't be more excited about the diverse group of young teens that have audaciously applied for this year's program. We have an amazing roster of mentors volunteering for the three-day program and subsequent follow-up and an action-packed curriculum that will keep participants focused and committed in our efforts to inspire guardians of Yellowstone Country. As with all YCG youth programs, there will be a special emphasis on service learning through dynamic service projects that will benefit the wildlife and wildlands of the Yellowstone Ecosystem by collaborating with agencies such as the National Park Service and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.

YCG Regional Road Tour:

Following our upcoming Yellowstone Leadership Challenge, YCG Director and Founder Michael Leach will hit the road and journey to the great Pacific Northwest for our fall Regional Road Tour.

Tuesday, November 1st,-Redmond, WA Sponsored by Redmond REI
8703 160th Avenue Northeast
Redmond, WA 98052

Wednesday, November 2nd-Portland, OR REI 7 pm

Thursday, November 3rd-Stream Keepers 7 pm, 600 128th St SE, Everett, WA 98208
Driving Directions to Stream Keepers: the Northwest Stream Center is located between Seattle and Everett WA on a 20-acre site next to North Creek. It is approximately 1/2-mile east of Interstate-5 from the 128th Street Exit (Exit #186), at the south end of Snohomish County's Mc Collum Park. After exiting I-5, drive eastbound, turn right into the entrance of the Park on the south side of 128th Street SE. Drive straight to the south end of the park...the NW Stream Center Visitors Building is the last structure at the end of the road.
Pre-registration Required by Calling

Friday, November 4th-Alderwood, WA REI 7 pm

Wednesday, November 9th-North Idaho College, Coeur d'Alene, ID (all day)


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