By Clare Stumpf – CLI Grad & State Bill Organizer
My name is Clare, and I’ve spent 7 superb summers in Jackson, most recently as a raft guide for Lewis & Clark. I love the rush of whitewater, the exuberant guide community, and the sunny beauty of summertime. Even though it’s been great facilitating exciting outdoor experiences for families, I knew that if I wanted to continue to enjoy exploring the river and the rest of the Jackson Hole landscape, I would have to get involved in the politics of protecting it. So, I decided to attend the University of Colorado for a Master’s in Environmental Policy.
After grad school I came back to Jackson for more guiding, and I found something was still missing. Although I had been having fun here for a long time, I still wasn’t actually involved in the community or the conservation issues that I knew mattered.
So, this fall, I decided to stick around in the off-season to participate in the Alliance’s Conservation Leadership Institute (CLI) – a 12-week course to develop the skills to organize and advocate for issues that local people, especially younger people, care about. Honestly, it changed my life.
CLI includes a project to engage in a current community issue, and my group chose to tackle the hotel upzone proposal for the Café Genevieve block. We attended Town Council meetings, sat down with our elected officials, organized public information sessions, and became good friends in the process. And the upzone proposal is off the table, for now! It’s been deeply satisfying to see a small group of young Jackson women like us gather community support and directly influence local decision-making.
After CLI, I wanted to keep up my momentum. I attended a “citizen lobbying” training in Cheyenne (started by my friend and fellow CLI grad Phoebe Stoner), and I’ve been organizing local efforts to influence the state legislative session from afar. Learn all about it March 12 at Picnic for a happy hour update on the Wyoming legislative session!
The Alliance gave me a way to act on issues I care about, connect with passionate people, and plant real roots in this amazing place. Now I’m connected to the community outside of my rafting world, and I feel like I can make a difference in protecting the valley I’ve grown to love. I’m finally living here year-round, loving winter, and even learning to ski!
In order to provide transformative opportunities for community members like me, the Alliance needs support from friends like you. I feel more committed than ever to protecting the place I call home, and I hope you’ll join me in giving others the chance to do the same. Get involved, donate, volunteer, attend events, and learn more about the issues affecting our community. See you at an Alliance event soon!