Toyota invests in Yellowstone’s future with the Yellowstone Park Foundation 
Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 09:19PM
Beth Pratt

Toyota donated a million dollars to the construction of the new Old Faithful Visitor Education Center (Photo: Beth Pratt) When eager park visitors gather roadside to admire a grizzly bear or a bison herd in Yellowstone, a traffic jam often ensues. When park rangers arrive on scene to help clear the jam, they don’t drive the usual generic law enforcement sedan. Instead they arrive in an energy-efficient hybrid vehicle, decorated with images of wildlife and fun animal facts—and donated by Toyota Motor Sales, USA., Inc.

“For us, there is a real benefit of being able to touch the millions of people that come to Yellowstone National Park each year with our sustainable vehicles. It’s great to know that we are making a difference for both the park and the environment,” says Mary Nickerson, National Manager of Advance Technology Vehicles for Toyota.

The donation of the hybrid vehicles is just one of the many investments that Toyota is making in Yellowstone’s future through a partnership with the Yellowstone Park Foundation, the park’s official fundraising entity.

Toyota’s commitment to protecting Yellowstone has been ongoing says Karen Bates Kress, President of the Foundation: “Toyota has been a steadfast partner to the Yellowstone Park Foundation for several years. It all started with the donation of hybrid vehicles, but their support has expanded to be so much more, including a major investment in education programs for tomorrow’s park stewards. Their generosity not only made the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center possible, but also helped us make the building a model of eco-friendly design and function.”

Last summer, Toyota’s President & COO James E. Lentz traveled to Yellowstone to attend the special dedication ceremony for the Old Faithful Education Center. Toyota funded a million dollar grant for the construction of the center and also provided the impetus and resources that enabled the project to reach a higher level of LEED certification than originally planned. As Lentz explains, “LEED is part of our company’s environmental philosophy. All of our new building planning involves LEED. It doesn’t make business sense today to invest in facilities if they are not LEED certified.”

More importantly for Lentz, the center also creates opportunities to develop future environmental leaders and protectors of Yellowstone. “The new center is phenomenal. And what I like most is how it’s getting young people more excited about the environment, and making them better stewards as well.”

To the goal of education and leadership development, Toyota has also made a nearly million-dollar donation to the Foundation to support the development of interpretive programs in Yellowstone. This funding allows initiatives to continue through 2012. The car company is also lending its expertise in sustainability to the park to help Yellowstone develop a more comprehensive environmental plan for the future.

All of these efforts are adding up to a more sustainable future for Yellowstone. And Nickerson affirms that her company will continue with its commitment to preserve the world's first national park.  “When it comes to the environment, every little bit counts. We are working with the Park to show visitors and employees what they can do to help protect the environment.”

Article originally appeared on greeningyellowstone (
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