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Individual Placement Program

[Image Description: A MCC member and Forest Service employee are rafting down a river. The Forest Service employee is rowing the raft while the other is holding onto paperwork, likely for the survey they are completing. Off in the distance, there are mass

Every Drop Counts: The power of community collaboration

Reflecting on the past year, it is easy to see that all of the progress made by the Gallatin River Task Force—the projects that we’ve been able to advance and the momentum we have gained for the river—is largely due to one common denominator: community support and collaboration. 

As a Big Sky Watershed Corps member, I have had the opportunity to be at the center of community engagement for the Gallatin River Task Force for the past several months. What I have witnessed is people’s innate interest in jumping in to do the work alongside the task force team. Additionally, it has become clear that work of this caliber, and projects that require bigger commitments and more investment, do not succeed without the kind of support that the task force receives from the Big Sky community.  

From the Gallatin River Cleanup to the Hooked on the Gallatin gala, from long-lasting programs to new projects, our work would not be possible without our dedicated community and their interest in supporting our mission to protect the Gallatin River now and for future generations.  

Every volunteer, donor, sponsor, project partner and supporter plays a role in the work and initiatives of the task force. They are key to the success that we see over the course of a season of field work, and during a year’s worth of advancing projects that protect the Gallatin River. There are many ways that task force experiences community support, and the ways that Big Sky uplifts our work deserves our recognition and our accolades. Serving with this organization for just a short window, it has been an honor and pleasure to work alongside and within this community to advance the goals and vision of a healthier Gallatin.  

Our dedicated volunteers and program participants are critical. Community engagement has an immense impact on our capacity and ability to move forward with work addressing nonpoint source pollution, monitoring and data collection, and water conservation initiatives, to name a few. Donating nearly 600 hours of time by engaging in our cleanups, water monitoring and streamflow field work, and outreach events, this year the Big Sky community: 

  • Cleaned up more than 2,000 pounds of trash and pet waste from local trails and along the Gallatin River;  
  • Collected 572 data points across 11 sites on the Gallatin River tributaries over 6 months as a part of our monitoring program; 
  • Saved more than 290,000 gallons of water through water conservation initiatives. 

These are not small impacts. They are critical to the big picture work, and the long-term vision for a healthy watershed. Recognizing that the Gallatin River Task Force community is far-reaching and extends beyond Big Sky and the Gallatin Valley, we know that our community of support is strong because of its breadth and diversity. Donors and supporters across the United States have helped us create a network of advocates and stewards who share a passion for the Gallatin River from every corner of the country. This broad range of supporters deserves the utmost gratitude for their contributions and commitment to our organization, which includes: 

  • 336 donors  
  • 143 Friend of the Gallatin members  
  • Over 7,200 online subscribers and followers across several platforms 

“Partnering with our greater community” is vital to our mission. As any community organization will tell you, collaboration is one of the driving forces behind achieving a mission. Being a part of the Gallatin River Task Force team has taught me that a community-based organization needs the support of the many nonprofit organizations, businesses, local, state and federal agencies, and community funders. Community partners provide essential pieces of the time, money and resources that are put towards every aspect of our work, and are necessary for completing restoration projects, managing water resources, driving successful events and raising community awareness about the Gallatin River and the greater watershed ecosystem we rely on.

The Gallatin River is a community resource that requires a community effort to monitor, restore and protect. To experience the support, commitment and generosity of this community and their unwavering dedication has been truly humbling. Our work to protect the Gallatin River for future generations is not possible without every volunteer, donor, sponsor, partner and community participant. We are truly grateful.  

Ally Sutcliffe was a 2023 Big Sky Watershed Corps member who served with the Gallatin River Task Force team. Article courtesy of