As an interpretive arm of the United States Forest Service (USFS) with a goal of increasing environmental literacy in the state of Colorado, Yampatika offers a variety of educational programming within the Steamboat Springs community. In partnership with Steamboat Resort, who leases USFS land, Yampatika educates children and adults about the native wildlife, vegetation, geology and history of the land we love to ski on when covered in winter’s powdery blanket of snow.  

Yampatika’s mission is to inspire environmental stewardship through education. Executive Director Kristen Jespersen explains that Yampatika strives “to get people to better understand and connect to the landscape” that surrounds them. Programs such as guided hikes, walking tours, workshops and special events are all educational tools utilized by Yampatika. 

This summer, Yampatika will be hosting Ski Resort Guided Nature Walks every Thursday from through August 31. Meeting at the Creekside Trailhead at 10 AM, a Yampatika naturalist will guide participants into Routt National Forest for one hour to learn about ungulates, birds, bears, berries, flakes, flames and more. Open to all ages at a length of about one mile, registration on Yampatika’s website is required to participate.  

Although not a public event, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) has youth service crews ages 11 to 13 working on environmental stewardship projects around the resort this summer. Yampatika is partnering with RMYC and Steamboat Resort to facilitate the educational component of their service work. Jespersen explains that Yampatika teaches the “what” but that the “why” is most important. Helping youth understand why they are cleaning up trash underneath chairlifts and doing trail maintenance is a key concept in teaching environmental stewardship.   

As fall is approaching, Yampatika will host its annual Fall Fest event at Torian Plum Plaza in partnership with Steamboat Resort. On Sunday, September 17 from 12 to 3 PM, various local agencies, businesses and organizations will come together to educate all ages in a fun way. Each booth will feature a different educational activity, with pumpkin painting being the most popular feature activity to welcome fall.  

Serving as a partner of Steamboat Resort, and as a connection piece to the public, Yampatika plays an integral role in our community. By developing a multitude of environmental learning opportunities for children and adults, Yampatika connects people with the natural landscape that surrounds them. As Jespersen explains, by communicating the “what” and teaching the “why”, Yampatika helps to “connect the dots for people to better understand ecosystems” that surround them. And working closely with the USFS and Steamboat Resort, Yampatika makes sure that conservation and restoration efforts are done harmoniously.