See us Present at the 14th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Tracking the Human Footprint

We are excited to announce that we will be speaking at the upcoming (September 11-14, 2018) 14th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, to be held in Big Sky, Montana. This year’s conference is sponsored by Yellowstone Forever, with the theme Tracking the Human Footprint. For more information, and registration instructions, click here.

Scientific & Technical Volunteerism

Our theme at this year’s conference will be Scientific and Technical Volunteerism as a potential accelerator for projects, studies and other work at our National Parks, especially our first National Park, Yellowstone.

Our speakers will be:

  • Larry Rogers, founder of The Conservancy Project study group
  • Eric Curby, retired Capital Management SAP Applications global process owner, The Procter & Gamble Company
  • JD Davis, Senior Director, Campaign/Special Projects, Yellowstone Forever

Extended Abstract of our Presentation

“Accelerating Infrastructure and Conservation Work in Yellowstone National Park and other Public Lands – A New Approach”

The problem

“I contribute to my favorite national park non-profit to the best of my financial ability. Unfortunately, that means I will not have the impact I want to have.”

Does that sound familiar?

That was me. I wondered, “How can I have an impact beyond my financial contribution? I have skills, I have experience, and I have some time. Clients have paid big money for my skills and experience for many years.” And, the idea was born.

My personal “why”:

“By leveraging my most valuable assets to improve our national parks, and by encouraging others to do the same, we can get more done than through money alone.”

How you can help

What are your most valuable personal assets?  Your passion, education, and experience are needed right now. You can help us solve problems, like:

  • Traffic congestion in parks
  • Affordable housing for park employees, in parks and gateway communities
  • Project execution

The scale challenge in Park projects

The Conservancy Project Study Group is researching best practices for accelerating projects to reduce the $11 Billion maintenance backlog1at our National Parks, including $516 Million in backlogged projects at Yellowstone1.  It is often challenging to execute large programs both timely andwith excellence. Having the right talent available at the right time, to do just the work needed, can be daunting. Anything less is inefficient, costly, and a risk to quality.

A Pew-commissioned analysis concluded in March 2018 that as many as 100,000 additional jobs2may be needed to execute the current backlog of work. Yellowstone’s share could require as many as 200-300 new people.  Where will these people come from? Will it be possible to find the critical skills and experience needed, in just the right measure, at just the right time?

The execution challenge

We have learned that the key to having just the right talent at just the right time is to assign those tasks requiring the most specialized skills to the most highly qualified people on an ‘as-needed on-call’ basis. These roles can have the highest impact on project quality and execution time, while costing the project less than full-time resources.

Projects often fail due to incomplete scope development, which may lead to:

  • additional risk
  • excessive changes
  • cost and schedule overruns
  • project cancellation and failure

How is it that failure factors like those listed above occur?

  • start spending as soon as possible after funding
  • award to the lowest bidder
    • without a complete scope
    • without adequate contractor vetting
  • allow planned completion date to dictate (bad) decisions

The opportunity before us

What if it were possible to overlay a new era of scientific and technical volunteerism onto the burgeoning backlog of infrastructure and conservation projects at Yellowstone National Park?

What if there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of well-qualified, experienced men and women who will jump at the opportunity to make a difference for our national parks? Can we communicate the problem to them, and create an easy way to match them with real, challenging, and rewarding projects? Yes!

Many have reached a point in life where they can volunteer a few hours or more each month. We can realize this concept by mapping skills, experience, technology and proximity as key measures to match a candidate to a project.

The opportunity before us is to attract, pre-qualify, and retain a broad talent pool of experienced experts by engaging them in interesting, challenging, and rewarding work.

The “How”

  1. Align strategic non-government organizations (NGO’s) like Yellowstone Forever (YF) with the concept and value proposition of scientific/technical volunteerism. These organizations are the trusted partners of our national parks.
  2. Partner with YF and the National Park Service (NPS) on best practices to implement the talent pool process within current contract award and management practices.
  3. Communicate the concept broadly, reaching a large population of people who are candidates to join the talent pool.
  4. Conduct a vetting process, leading to a pre-qualified database of candidates matched to skills, experience, and proximity to project locations
  5. Execute one or more ‘sample’ projects to validate the concept or make adjustments
  6. Launch full-on execution

A ‘day-in-the-life’ of a candidate

“Jennifer Doe” has worked as a senior ranger at Yellowstone and is nearing retirement. With a degree in wildlife biology and many years of experience in park operations, she wants to remain engaged in the work she loves after retirement.

Jennifer learns about volunteering to help with the execution of work at our national parks. She enrolls in the program and is quickly pre-qualified to work on assignments involving wildlife health, wildlife migration and mitigation, park management, and traffic. Based upon her home address, Jennifer is matched to roles in Yellowstone NP, Grand Teton NP, and all of the public lands in the area.

Soon, Jennifer is offered an opportunity to assist with scope development andon-boarding a new contractor that will be working in Lamar Valley at Yellowstone. She is asked to be available up to four hours each week, as a volunteer. Her work involves occasional meetings in the park, but mostly working online, reading and evaluating detailed scope documents and construction work orders. She suggests possible revisions to correct and clarify the desired project scope.

She performs her work with exceptional results. After the project, both the NPS project manager and the contractor superintendent praise her contribution to the project, which experienced far fewer changes and delays than a typical project at Yellowstone.


  1. National Park Service Facility Management Software System, 9-30-2017.
  2. Pew Trusts, Job Creation Potential if we fix our National Parks, 12-1-2017

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