We sat down with Jackson Hole's EcoTour Adventures' owner, Taylor Phillips, and Wildlife Naturalist Guide, Josh Metten. My first impression of the two was the tremendous appreciation for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, particularly sharing their knowledge about it to as many people as possible.
Phillips left, Metten right.
EcoTour Adventures has been operating in the valley for more than a decade. The tour company offers a wide variety of year-round wildlife adventures, including multi-day trips in the Jackson Hole, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone ecosystems, some two and a half million acres of wilderness.
Philips is an environmental philosopher, wildlife enthusiast, advocate, and avid photographer (read his humans article here). Metten studied natural resource management and had been in the environmental education field for a decade.
When asked what EcoTour Adventures’s mission is, Philips is quick to explain that their passion lies within the following:
Educating people on the area's ecology.
Sharing the area's natural history with clients through meaningful relationships.
Giving back to the natural resources.
How and why is education important and present in the EcoTour Experience?
"Humans don't appreciate what they are unfamiliar with. We educate folks to have a better understanding of the ecosystem, therefore, more appreciation. Instead of just seeing bison, they learn where the bison came from and where it will go; it increases meaning," shares Philips. Metten continues, "This landscape exists because people worked hard to conserve it. The intactness of the ecosystem is not an accident, and it's our job to continue that."
How do you incorporate the sharing of history?
Philips shared that the inspiration for EcoTour Adventures came to him in part by some of the great naturalist writers like Thoreau, Leopold, and Muir, so it only makes sense that today, the roots in storytelling and education still run deep. "All of our guides have personalized experiences with the areas; they live here and have curated relationships with the land and the organism's home to it; what becomes of this is a lot of storytelling," shares Philips.
EcoTours offers wild adventures suited for all levels of curiosity and activeness. Recommended to first timers to the area is the Full Day Combination Wildlife Viewing Adventure. The Adventure begins with a wildlife safari of Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge, with opportunities to encounter moose, elk, bison, eagles, coyotes, and even wolves! Then join your experienced Nordic Naturalist for an off the beaten path exploration on cross country skis or snowshoes.
Their favorite part of their job? "Creating a close connection with people through sharing powerful experiences. "Sharing a view of the Junction Butte Pack with guests (one of the most prominent packs in the Yellowstone Range) as they test a bison herd is so powerful, it brings you close to the wildness of this landscape," explains Metten.
Considering the pair's familiarity with the wildlife and ecology, we had to know which is their favorite animal to observe in the wild?
"River otters, because of their social nature, playfulness and strong sense of family." -Philips
"Wolves in the winter are always incredible." -Metten.
Their favorite animal to see overall is the Great Grey Owl, "they're the largest owl in North America and are often active during the day.”
How does EcoTour Adventures give back?
A commitment to the conservation of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is a core component of EcoTour Adventures. Through their Dollars for Conservation program, the company has donated over $100,000 to various non-profits that protect the wildlife, the water, and the community character, since opening, they have given over $100,000 back to the natural resources.
For more information on Eco Tour Adventures, or to book a tour today, visit https://www.jhecotouradventures.com/. Photos courtesy of Josh Metten; EcoTour Adventures.
This story is a part of #humansofjhchamber: The campaign places a focus on the faces of our local businesses and nonprofits. Learn about their inspirations, why they got started in their industry, and more! Find the Chamber on Instagram, @jhchamber. For information about the program, please contact Communications Manager, Andi Gollwitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Communications Manager, Andi Gollwitzer.