The Mission Mountains Youth Crew Program (MMYC) exposes youth living on the Flathead Reservation in Western Montana to career pathways in natural resources and helps build a bridge to college through a summer job program. In 2021, the National Forest Foundation ran a pilot of the Program with a crew of six high school-age students from local schools and two student crew leads from the Salish Kootenai College. The crew worked in and around the Mission Mountains for seven weeks, completing stewardship activities with both the Flathead National Forest and the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT).
The Mission Mountains are ancestral lands of the Bitterroot Salish and Pend d’Oreille and contain many heritage sites of historic significance to the Tribes. As recently as two hundred years ago, the Bitterroot Salish and Pend d’Oreille crossed the Missions annually as they made their way between western Montana’s river-carved valley floors and the bison hunting grounds beyond the Rocky Mountain Front. Culture and Language Department Head of the Salish Kootenai College and CSKT tribal member, MMYC Program Coordinator Tim Ryan is well-versed in this history and brings a heritage education component to the Program.