Yellowstone National Park Nonprofit Lays Off Employees, Closes Educational Branch

Jun 16, 2020

Credit Yellowstone Forever

The official nonprofit organization of Yellowstone National Park laid off more than 30 employees and closed its education branch.

Yellowstone Forever is the result of a 2016 merger of two different nonprofit organizations. Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said Yellowstone Forever grew too quickly, made miscalculations and eventually started taking on debt even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

"The COVID crisis really affected their revenue, their normal revenue streams. And so it's just been a recipe for a really bad situation on a variety of different fronts," said Sholly.

The national park is not 100 percent open this year, so normal revenue streams like bookstores in the park have been cut off.

"Their philanthropy is down by 50 percent from normal, [so] they've had to make some substantial structural changes to their organization," said Sholly.

The changes included shutting down the nonprofit's education department, the Yellowstone Institute. The institute worked alongside the national park's education department to provide programs to park tourists. Sholly said he is committed to helping the nonprofit get back on its feet.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Kamila Kudeska, at kkudelsk@uwyo.edu.