Buffalo Bill Center Youth Advisors Receive Smithsonian Grant
Written by Andrew-Rossi on February 15, 2021
The group of Cody High School students will use their Smithsonian award for a sage grouse conservation project with the Bureau of Land Management.
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Youth Advisory Board has received a grant from the Smithsonian Institution for a conservation project benefitting Cody and northwest Wyoming. The Smithsonian is the nation’s museum group in Washington D.C., and the world’s largest museum and research complex.
$500 was awarded to the youth advisory board as part of the Smithsonian’s National Earth Optimism Teen Conversations Project. This Smithsonian project was created to bring teens together from all parts of the country to learn about and discuss their concerns about the environment.
Earlier this year, the student advisors worked on a proposal for a teen-designed and led conservation project addressing an environmental concern. Under the guidance of BBCOW officials, the advisory board completed and submitted their proposal on Jan. 26.
Based on the strength of that proposal, the Smithsonian deemed the project worthy of the micro-award after a nationwide competition.
“We were so impressed with the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of the students’ action plan,” said Jennifer Brundage and Brian Coyle, the project’s directors at the Smithsonian Institution. “Their research and proposal revealed a deep understanding not only of their physical environment but of their community needs as well.”
The group of Cody high schoolers on the youth advisory board includes seniors Colton Manchester and Paige Martinez, junior Kinley Bollinger, and sophomores Mia Bachler, Madeline Bender, and Ida Tallen.
Sage grouse conservation is the topic of the award-winning project. The youth advisory board plans to work with biologists at the Bureau of Land Management to restore sagebrush habitat, assisting in the preservation of Wyoming’s sage grouse population.
Preservation of Wyoming’s sage grouse continues to be a successful statewide priority. Initial estimates from Wyoming Game and Fish suggest sage grouse populations held steady in 2020, with numbers almost equal to those recorded in 2019.
As part of the award, the teens will need to film a short video chronicling how the Smithsonian grant is being spent. Their deadline for completion is six months.
The Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism initiative “seeks to illuminate and magnify the positive, hopeful ways that individuals and communities are addressing the climate crisis. Because of the pandemic, the National Earth Optimism Teen Conversations Project had to be conducted virtually. Students were invited to attend monthly conversations on Zoom with their peers across the United States, Smithsonian scientists, and other environmental experts. The Smithsonian’s teen collaborators suggested topics, recruited speakers, designed promotional materials, and led discussions on topics such as reducing the use of plastic, environmental justice, and food security.”