Growing up on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia, Taylor Phillips spent a lot of time in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. “Early on, I developed a deep connection with the natural world,” he says. “But I also saw firsthand the results of sprawl and urbanization of a once rural location,” a fate he hopes this valley won’t share.
After graduating from Eckerd College, Taylor first visited Jackson Hole in 2002, when “with the balsamroot in full bloom, the bison roaming Antelope Flats and the Tetons piercing the heavens, my heart rose as I knew I had found a new home.”
“I immediately appreciated the unique wild character that remains here,” he says. “We have something special and we need to keep it.”
Since then, he’s put his degree in environmental studies and philosophy to use in jobs ranging from varied positions at Teton Science Schools to guiding for the Hole Hiking Experience to creating his own business, EcoTour Adventures. Taylor also found time for a 76-day Alaskan adventure, kayaking the entire 2,000-mile Yukon River with three friends, a trip he calls “a turning point of my life.”
“By experiencing the wildlife, natural sounds and solitude, I realized even more how the natural world needs to be cared for,” he says. This led to his commitment to work for sustainable ecotourism, and to join the Alliance’s board in April 2010. As a director, Taylor wants to engage younger community members in conservation issues. “A large part of Jackson Hole’s population recreates in and enjoys the outdoors, and if they see that it can be jeopardized then they will start to care,” he says. “Many of them do care but don’t know how or aren’t inspired to act. I hope to change that.”
Taylor’s other passions include backcountry skiing, biking, hiking, backpacking, fly-fishing, and wildlife photography.