Youth Forest Monitoring Program (YFMP)

YFMP GroupYouth in 

hard hat using sighted levelYouth measuring stream levelsBird sitting on the shoulder of a backpackerLine of backpackers headed on a trail into the wilderness


Youth Forest Monitoring Program (YFMP) is an innovative summer citizen science program for students entering grades 9-12. Participants learn about forest ecology, explore their local National Forest System and other nearby lands, engage in forest health monitoring, and network with natural resource professionals. Areas that students monitor include lands impacted by wildfire, historic mining claims, important watersheds, grazing allotments, and recreation areas.

YFMP begins with a one-week training, after which students are divided into three teams and spend the next six weeks monitoring soil, water and weeds. Students collect, analyze, and interpret data by working in the field, in classrooms, and in the laboratory. Field instructors supervise students, and each monitoring project is guided by a designated Forest Service scientist. Students complete the program by presenting their data and conclusions to parents, the public, and Forest Service personnel in a report presentation. Student data is then integrated with other monitoring data and used to evaluate the Forest Plan.

Students receive a lump sum stipend at the end of the program once they have successfully completed their internship. Several past participants have even earned seasonal employment with the Forest Service in subsequent years.

The program is open to students entering grades 9-12, who are in good academic standing and/or have demonstrated ability and interest in natural sciences.


More Information

2020 Program Brochure

To find out more about the Youth Forest Monitoring Program, click on the brochure link above or contact Liz Burke at 406-495-3713 or


How to Apply

To apply for the 2020 Youth Forest Monitoring Program, send the following documents to the address listed below by April 10, 2020:

  • Contact information - Email, address, and phone number
  • School transcript
  • Letter of recommendation from a teacher
  • Cover letter describing 1) what you hope to gain by this experience, and 2) special contributions you can make to this program


Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest
ATTN: Liz Burke
2880 Skyway Dr.
Helena, MT 59602


Two YFMP Feild Instructor Positions Available

Program partners will soon be soliciting applications for two Field Instructors for the 2020 Youth Forest Monitoring Program! Check back to this page for more information at a later date, or contact Liz Burke ( for more information.


YFMP is supported by a partnership with the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, Montana Discovery Foundation, Lewis and Clark County, and Helena College University of Montana.  Grant funders for 2019 and 2020 include the Montana Noxious Weed Trust Fund and the 2019 Citi-Sci Fund Award.