Summer is a time for giving!

I hope you are enjoying the summer and taking full advantage of life returning to normal. Thank you to those of you who were able to join us for our virtual community meeting on May 25th. If you missed it, you can view the recording by clicking HERE. We also have added a “Frequently Asked Questions” document to our website at to share more information about our mission and important work in partnership with Gardiner Public Schools. 

The past several months have been extremely productive for NYEF, and we thank you for your continued support. 
I am excited to share updates about our Teacher Housing Initiative, Connect! Grants classroom grants program, and an alumni spotlight on 2011 Gardiner High graduate Ryan Harbach in our newsletter below. 

None of our important work would be possible without YOU! With your help, NYEF can continue to support the school and important initiatives such as our classroom grants program, mental health initiatives, and teacher housing.

Please consider joining us for the third annual community-wide giving challenge, Give-A-Hoot, hosted by the Park County Community Foundation. When you make a donation between July 1-31st at, your gift will be partially matched so your support goes even further! We would be extremely honored to have your additional support, large or small, during this campaign so that we can keep our momentum strong and continue to move our mission forward.

Shelly Siedlaczek
NYEF Executive Director


Teacher Housing Initiative 

During the past few months, NYEF has made significant progress our Teacher Housing Initiative. As you may recall, NYEF purchased a property in Gardiner last November and since then we have been preparing for renovation work to divide the home into multiple housing units for teachers. We feel fortunate to have found an available contractor and renovations have begun! Our contractor has committed to having this project completed by the fall, just in time to house two teachers for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

Due to the rising costs of construction our renovation expenses are higher than we anticipated, but we felt it was important to proceed with our plans. NYEF is thrilled to be able to offer affordable housing to attract and retain teachers in Gardiner, which is becoming increasingly difficult for locals to secure due to the high price of real estate and a growing number of vacation rentals.

Connect! Grants 

We are also extremely proud of our Connect! Grants classroom grant program where we continue to receive more and more applications requesting support. NYEF recently funded a first and second grade field trip to the Grizzly/Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, multicultural literature for the Park County Rural Schools 360 program, and helped to fill in educational gaps in the music program at Arrowhead School. Members of our community review all of the applications and decide which projects will have the greatest impact. We are so grateful for our volunteers who make this program a success.

Our next review round will be in October 2021. For more info on how to apply, please visit our website >> 

Help Us Reach Our Goal!

Show your support for Gardiner Public Schools and help us reach our goal of $50,000 to uphold the highest level of education possible for our youth. Please consider making a donation to help our community thrive and ensure a bright future for our children. 

If each of us gives a little, it will help A LOT!  Now's the time to give as your gift will be partially matched by PCCF.

To make a donation, visit between July 1-31, 2021. Thank you for your support!!

GPS Alumni Spotlight: Ryan Harbach

Gardiner High School graduate, Ryan Harbach, has always been an advocate for carrying bear spray and for recycling. His new business, TrailQuipt bear spray rentals in Gardiner, Montana combines both. 

After graduating from GPS in 2011, he went on to attend Montana State University. “I wanted to become a wildlife biologist and become the next Kerry Gunther,” Ryan said with a smile. As his education evolved, Ryan’s career track took a different direction and he is now a surveyor for an engineering firm. However, it was a Gardiner school teacher/coach and his seasonal employment in Yellowstone that led him to his decision to pursue entrepreneurial leadership as his second career.

Ryan was inspired many years ago by the park’s bear spray recycling program. “The recycling bins were already full half-way through the summer,” he recalls. That’s the time that Ryan came up with his own idea of a bear spray rental “grab and go” kiosk where unused spray could be safely reused instead of being recycled. 

Ryan’s former teacher and coach at Gardiner High, Dave Perius, had great influence on his decision to pursue his own business endeavor. “He planted the seeds of money management, and taught us how to be a professional combined with simple, important life lessons that set me up for success,” Ryan shared.

Ryan and his wife Mikaela reside in Billings and are also expecting their first child in the fall. Congratulations, Ryan, on your achievements and for pursuing excellence as a GPS grad!

Follow NYEF on Facebook!

Following us on Facebook is an excellent way to receive up-to-date information about our housing project, grant cycles, mental initiatives, and ways to volunteer. This July, it would especially helpful for our supporters to like & share Give-a-Hoot content. One click is all it takes to lend a hand!


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Photo credits:
Electric Peak with Bison courtesy of National Park Service,
Gardiner School by Shelly Siedlaczek, Give-a-Hoot courtesy of PCCF, Field Trip by Barbara Bush, Renovation Photos 1 and 2 by Shelly Siedlaczek, Bear Spray Owner by Ryan Harbach, Cattle in Paradise Valley courtesy of NPS. 

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North Yellowstone Education Foundation · PO Box 166 · Gardiner, MT 59030-0166 · USA

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