It’s been more than 170 million years since the peaks of Glacier National Park began to form. The history of this place, both natural and human, is essential in telling the story of the area’s past and understanding the park’s future. The chief steward of this story is the Glacier National Park Conservancy—a team dedicated to preservation and education in the national park.
For nearly two decades, the Pursuit team have been connecting guests at our Glacier Park properties to the Conservancy through an “add-on” donation program. Twenty years on, the total donations have added up to a significant contribution of half a million dollars.
“Our work is funded 110 percent by donations, from local partners and national donors across the country,” says Adam Sommers, Business Partnerships Manager for the Glacier National Park Conservancy.
The Conservancy is the official fundraising partner for the national park. Every spring, they receive a list of projects for Glacier National Park that are unfunded by federal capital, and set to work fundraising for their completion. In a given year, the Conservancy will take on around 70 projects funded by $2–3 million in donations.
For Melissa Baker, Director of Guest Experience for Pursuit’s Glacier Park team, it simply makes sense to connect guests to the Conservancy and their work. Having worked in and around the park for nearly 20 years herself, Baker knows firsthand the powerful impact that Glacier National Park has on those who spend time here. That’s why she's a champion of the “add-on” program which allows guests at Pursuit lodges to make small but important donations to the Conservancy.
“We tell every guest that checks in to our lodges how the work that the Conservancy does is making a difference, and how they can donate $1 per room per night through us,” says Baker. “When we explain how their donations go directly back to the Park, hardly anyone opts out of supporting.”
The Pursuit team also participates in the Conservancy’s park passport program which offers discounts at dining venues and retail outlets—all proceeds of passport sales go back to Sommer’s team. “Being at the gateway to Glacier, it’s our responsibility to play a part in keeping the story of the park alive,” says Baker.
“All of our dollars and donations pour straight back into the park,” says Sommers. About a third of the Conservancy’s annual donations go to their "signature projects". These are identified by the national park and stakeholders as essential to the vitality of the park, and range from wildlife migration research to the Native America Speaks program.
The remaining two thirds of donations from Pursuit guests (and all other donors) go to projects related to preservation, research and education. The Conservancy supports trail maintenance for the more than 700 miles of trails that allow hikers and horseback riders to explore the park. They also spearhead research projects for wildlife monitoring, with the help of many volunteers. Just last year, the Conservancy mobilized 247 citizen scientists who contributed more than 7,000 hours to surveying species at risk in the park.
As for education, it’s one of the Conservancy’s top priorities. They support school field trips in any way they can, from buses to programming, and fund the salaries of about a dozen park rangers who are focused on educational programs. “We fund about 90 percent of education activities in the park,” says Sommers. “Essentially, we support all of the programs that make Glacier, Glacier.”
Making it to the $500,000 mark in donations is a cause for celebration for the Pursuit team. For Baker, it reinforces how every donation, no matter the amount, has an effect. Sommers agrees: “Those small amounts really do add up. The impact that half a million dollars has on our park is amazing,” he says.
For Gary Rodgers, VP & General Manager for Pursuit, the Conservancy's work is motivating and inspiring. “Our team knows how fortunate we are to work and play in this incredible environment,” he says. “Connecting our guests with the Conservancy is one small way that we can let people know about all that is being done, and how important it is to the preservation of the park.”
Learn more about the Conservancy’s work and donate today at glacier.org.
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