I can’t think of a better way to be introduced to the frozen Montana winter than moving up from my home state of Texas during the crisp month of January. At the start of 2018 I swapped out my shorts and sandals for snow pants and insulated boots and I couldn’t be more excited. Upon arrival at my new home of East Glacier Park, I quickly embraced snowshoeing as my hobby of choice. Hiking on top of waist-deep snow without falling through is wonderful! It didn’t take long for me to learn about the importance of wearing layers to withstand the biting Northwest Montana wind. Now that I’m settled in, seeing a landscape that’s not coated in snow seems bizarre and foreign.
My name is Jacob LeVitus, and I’m beginning the third week of my AmeriCorps term of service as a Big Sky Watershed Corps member with the Center for Large Landscape Conservation and Blackfeet Nation Fish & Wildlife. After spending the first 18 years of my life in Austin, Texas, I enrolled at the University of Kansas where I got my bachelor’s degree in environmental studies. Following graduation, I headed to the Land of the Midnight Sun for an internship with the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments in Fort Yukon, Alaska. During my internship I worked on a set of agreements that were designed to protect traditional ecological knowledge and I learned about the importance of connection between tribal youth and elders.
After my internship, I moved back to my hometown of Austin where I served an AmeriCorps term with the Texas Conservation Corps. My crew focused primarily on habitat restoration, invasive plant management, and trail maintenance. My favorite part of the corps life was spending five to ten consecutive days outside, allowing my biological clock to sync with the sunrise and sunset. I am hoping to spend a few of my summer weekends camping in the backcountry of Glacier National Park (never without bear spray.)
I am here in Browning to serve as a facilitator for the Beaver Project (more details coming in future blog posts!) The Beaver Project is an integral component of the Blackfeet Nation Climate Change Adaptation Plan not only due to the long-term environmental benefits but also because of the cultural significance of beavers to the Piikani people. By the end of the year, I hope to educate the youth about the significance of climate change and help restore the streams and wetlands that sit on the Crown of the Continent.