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Geo Center Charts Its Own Course

Published October 26, 2022

Written by Julia Tellman and published in the Teton Valley News on October 5, 2022.

In order to improve messaging and better meet the needs of the community, the Teton Geo Center will begin operating with more independence from its umbrella, the Teton Regional Economic Coalition.

TREC, the Teton Geo Center, and the Teton Valley Chamber of Commerce are all individual entities, with different tax statuses, led by executive director Brian McDermott. TREC is a 501(C)6 and the Teton Geo Center is a 501(C)3. Bevin Taylor joined TREC in March of 2022 as program manager.

“Brian kept these organizations afloat through Covid,” Taylor said. That is admirable. Upholding the mission of the Teton Geo Center is paramount. We are in a unique position to evaluate how we deliver the mission across Teton Valley.”

Taylor is in the finishing stretch of re-launching the Discover Teton Valley website, DiscoverTetonValley.com , a major undertaking funded by the Idaho Travel Council to provide an information hub, directory, calendar, and business resource all in one place. Now, she and the nonprofit board are looking at splitting the Geo from TREC in an effort to simplify things.

“The storytelling about our interconnectedness—I think it confuses people!” she said with a laugh. “It’s a mouthful to explain. Rather than dig in with our mission as it is, we want to try and better serve the community based on its current needs. We’re trying to figure out what that looks like and meeting with some nonprofit experts to understand how to assess and augment our existing offerings. We’re adaptable and flexible.”

While they will still function behind the scenes as a single organization, Taylor will become the executive director of the Geo.

“This is an opportunity for Brian to hone in on the economic development side while my angle is engaging and educating the community and visitors,” she said.

In Taylor’s view, that means continuing to collaborate with other entities like the school district, foster relationships with municipal neighbors, bolster the already-popular educational aspect of the Geo, and hopefully re-establish the once-robust volunteer staff force that ebbed during Covid.

She’s open to suggestions and is brainstorming new programs like an escape room, evening programs at the museum for teens, programs for those with special needs and new parent playgroups.

“Anything fun that facilitates community connections,” Taylor said. “Our goal is for the Geo to be the hub of the community. We’d love to hear how we can offer more value. I’ve never run a museum before, that’s not my background, so I’m open to suggestions!”

She added that the Geo board, including president Emily Selleck, have been indispensable through the process. “Emily is a great source of vision and commitment,” Taylor said. “I really appreciate the opportunity to learn from her.

Meanwhile, TREC will continue trying to foster sustainable economic development in the valley.

“Our objectives are clear, but we are altering our strategic approach, in an effort to maintain balance and sustainability. Among other initiatives, we are shifting our messaging on tourism, attracting and retaining a discerning visitor and educating them about Teton Valley and empowering them to minimize the impact that they have on our local community, wildlife, and natural resources,” McDermott wrote in a press release in March, summing up TREC’s goals.

Taylor echoed that sentiment.

“We’re trying to be good stewards of the inevitable change that’s happening here and happening everywhere that we have no control over,” she said. “We feel like it’s our responsibility to establish boundaries so that, a century from now, Teton Valley is still very much a part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but it’s also a place where people can live and work and raise their families.”

By Julia Tellman

https://www.tetonvalleynews.net/freeaccess/geo-center-charts-its-own-course/article_62a94070-3b7d-11ed-9e78-53924e3bdaaa.html#tncms-source=block-behavioral

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