By Dave Granger

A new addition to Big Sky Youth
Empowerment’s character education
curriculum is Community and
Environmental Stewardship, which
gives BYEP students opportunities
to give back. This winter, all BYEP
groups (65 youth, 33 adults) have a
chance to support their respective
local communities – Belgrade, Big
Sky and Bozeman.
Because service is often dictated by
courts and probation officers, many
teens view community service as
punitive. BYEP turns that notion
on its head. Here’s how it works:
BYEP mentors contribute over 140
hours of service over a 14-week
period, modeling that it feels good
to do good. Not only are BYEP participants
and families impressed by
this volunteerism, they are direct
beneficiaries.
At the end of each seasonal adventure-
based program, participants
and mentors brainstorm organizations
or causes about which they
feel strongly (i.e. reducing hunger,
care for the elderly, pollution, etc.).
Groups vote on which cause or
organization to support and why,
detailing the necessary steps to
become volunteers for a weekend.
Logistics including transportation,
waivers and achievable goals are
discussed in this planning session.
The goal is to encourage BYEPers
to be life-long stewards for the local
community and beyond, and the
outcome is significant.
Although this particular aspect of
BYEP’s programming is optional,
the turn-out is exceptional. Over
90 percent of the 2010 program
cohort helped paint the interior of
the Belgrade Senior Center, reorganize
Sacks of Bozeman, and clean
up the Big Sky trail system with
Steve Johnson (Vice Chair of the
Big Sky Community Corporation).
Although these projects may have
seemed overwhelming at first, all
involved learn that many hands
make light work.
For winter 2011, the Bozeman
and Belgrade groups have chosen
the Gallatin Valley Food Bank and
Sacks of Bozeman for community
outreach. The Big Sky group is
discussing options for their stewardship
project, which is slated for
Saturday, April 23.
Have an idea for a Big Sky service
project? Email it to dave@
byep.org.
The Big Sky Youth Empowerment
Project offers creative
programs targeting high schoolaged,
at-risk youth. Dave Granger is
Program Director. byep.org

Want to get involved? BYEP has mentoring opportunities available with its Summer Adventure Program:
Dates: June 13-September 8
Adventures: indoor and outdoor climbing, white water rafting
on Yellowstone and Gallatin Rivers, day trip to Yellowstone
National Park and Yellowstone Club Adventure Course
BYEP Mentors are 20-40 year old men and women who love
the outdoors and believe in giving back!
contact dave@byep.org to get involved