MOOSE – Teton Science Schools and the Murie Center, two of Jackson Hole’s premier environmental education and advocacy centers, will merge, officials said Thursday.
The merger will integrate environmental educational programs at three facilities the organizations operate, two of which are located in Grand Teton National Park. The organizations host 17,000 people at programs annually.
Teton Science Schools operates the independent, private K-12 Journeys School just outside Jackson. It has about 180 students. It also has a smaller campus near Kelly and sees about 12,000 people attend its programs each year.
The Murie Center is a nonprofit conservation campus near park headquarters in Moose. Its programs at the Murie family ranch cater to about 5,000 people a year.
“We have an agreement in principle,” Murie Center director Paul Hansen told a group Thursday. More than 200 were at the center to honor John Turner with the Murie Spirit of Conservation Award and the late Luke Lynch with the rising-star award.
The Murie Ranch includes the log-cabin home of the late Olaus and Mardy Murie and numerous outbuildings that foster the family legacy. Adolph and Louise “Weezy” Murie (later MacLeod) were part of the conservation family. The complex sits on the banks of the Snake River amid trails and forests.
The science schools’ Journeys School campus near Jackson has several large, modern school buildings. The Kelly campus includes log cabins in a forested nook on the east edge of Grand Teton National Park.
Hansen touted the synergy he said would come from merging the two environmental education organizations. Teton Science Schools focuses on school children. The Murie Center engages a broad demographic, with front-porch conversations by speakers like Turner, a resident writing fellowship, and other programs.
Nancy Leon, chairwoman of the Murie Center’s board of directors, agreed the two institutions are a fit. “Our values are really aligned,” she said.
The merger involved the National Park Service, where two of the key institutional holdings operate. Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said his staff participated as the two organizations reached the agreement. The park even approved a request from the Murie Center to mow its central lawn for a tented dinner ceremony honoring Turner and Lynch.
The Muries have a legacy at their ranch, which has become the Murie Center, Vela said. It is protected as an historic district and national historic landmark. But “the Muries were also about the next generation,” he said.
The merger is “for the greater good of this footprint and this legacy,” Vela said.
Science schools’ board chairman Jim Broderick said the agreement will develop with time. “Teton Science Schools is incredibly excited to turn this partnership into a true marriage,” he said.