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The Geyser

The Geyser

Former PHS science teacher pursues passion for conservation.

Former teacher, Alecia Jongeward gathers with the members of the Park High Green Initiative at the Held v. Montana court case.

Alecia Jongeward, known as Mrs. J. by most of Park High, was a beloved part of the science department for six years before leaving to work for non-profits in 2022. Natalie Davis, who has been teaching science at Park High for 19 years, recalls how she would bounce crazy ideas off of Mrs. J. Davis said there was a lot of goofing around in the science hallway when Jongeward and retired science teacher Randy Mogen worked at PHS. 

Jongeward chose to leave education, at the age of 40, to pursue other passions. “I saw myself like really getting passionate about other things that had to do with the environment… I would just like to see like what I can do when it comes to environmental work,” she said. She recalls how she loved the students and is grateful she is still involved with the Green Initiative through her job with the Park County Environmental Council building up conservation leadership. 

Since leaving PHS she has been working for several nonprofits in an effort to help the environment. These organizations include Trout Unlimited, Park County Environmental Council and Montana Freshwater Partners. With Montana Freshwater, Jongeward runs the ‘Give Back to the Yellowstone’ campaign, a program focused on fundraising, education, restoration, stewardship, and conservation of the Yellowstone river.

 There are currently two river restoration projects Jongeward is working on: one in the Paradise Valley, and one downstream from the 89’ bridge. Due to the flooding last year the riparian zone of the river was damaged and is in need of restoration. Montana Freshwater Partners are rebuilding sides of the river with native plants to create a stable riparian zone that will help prevent erosion. The restoration projects are paired with an educational campaign to educate the public on what Montana Freshwater Partners are doing and why the riparian zone is important. 

Those looking to reconnect or see Mrs. J. are invited to a river clean up day on September 16 with ‘Give Back to the Yellowstone’. “Anybody can come down to Sacajawea park next Saturday morning the 16th to sign up to do the river clean up and you float the river and get a couple of raffle tickets…bring your trash back…there’s some raffle prizes and we are gonna grill some burgers,” Jongeward said.

Mrs. J. also works with Trout Unlimited up Passion Creek protecting trout nursery waters from invasive species. As the adviser to the Park High Green Initiative Club, Jongeward is working with PEP to host a statewide climate summit at the Shane Center October 12 and 13. The summit will have break out sessions with keynote speaker at Thursday’s dinner Dr. Cathy Whitlock, writer of the Greater Yellowstone Climate Assessment and one of the expert witnesses in the Held v. Montana trial this summer. Breakfast on Friday will feature keynote speaker Dr. Steven Running, a top climate scientist for NASA, also one of the expert witnesses in this year’s climate lawsuit. Both of the speakers were valuable witnesses in proving that the harm being done to the environment is violating constitutional rights. 

Since leaving PHS, Jongeward has been heavily involved in improving the local environment and wilderness through multiple avenues. Jongeward loves working with students and said she is noticing a lot of adults don’t know how to talk to young people. She is glad she can still work with students in her new career path well also pursuing her evolving passion for the environment.

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