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Yellowstone Programs

Yellowstone National Park is the very first national park in the world.  It was created by US President Ulysses Grant on March 1, 1872.  It was a bold experiment.  No country had ever created something called “a national park.”   It is doubtful that even President Grant fully grasped what this title meant. 

A few decades later, US President Teddy Roosevelt clarified what a national park was and what is was for.  He had stamped in bold letters on the arch near Gardiner Montana that bears his name and leads visitors into the Park, the following words:


The Roosevelt Arch near Gardiner Montana. The Northwest Gate into Yellowstone National Park

One of the primary goals of YESPI is to connect Yellowstone to the world and the world to the Yellowstone.  It does this through a variety of education programs.  Yellowstone Park is a key feature of all the US-based programs.  However, YESPI uses the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for its education activities.  We believe the best way to ‘ENJOY’ and ‘BENEFIT’ from Yellowstone Park is to actively engage with everything inside of and near this fascinating place.

We believe our programs reflect this idea.  Please read on.

Summer Academy

Each year, YESPI hosts multi-week Summer Academy education programs in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE).  Our students stay on the campus of Montana State University, the WYED Center in West Yellowstone, and spend at least two nights in tents in the backcountry of the GYE.  Each Academy consists of 15 hours of classroom instruction in research methods, photography, and presentation techniques.  Then, the students are required to complete 45 or 90 hours of field work on a research topic of their choosing and for which they have developed a hypothesis to test.

In addition to academics, the Summer Academy has a lot of recreation including white water rafting, hiking, mountain climbing, fly fishing, swimming, and camping.  Our students are constantly engaging with the environment of the Yellowstone.  For many, it’s a chance to do something for the first time.

Finally, we spend at least two days inside Yellowstone National Park to experience fully all that Yellowstone has to offer.  We get off the road and onto hiking trails.  We see wildlife, rivers, lakes, and mountains up close.  It’s an experience that many of our international students have never had.

Please download our Summer Academy agenda here:

Winter Academy

YESPI is developing a Winter Academy.  It is designed to be hosted over the Lunar New Year holidays.  It will pattern itself after the Summer Academy with 15 hours of classroom work and 45 hours of field work. The focus, however, will be on the winter ecology of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Yellowstone is an excellent location to study climate change.  Since it has been a national park since 1872, there has never been any human development of its natural resources.  The land that tourists walk on has never been developed other than a few roads and trails along with a handful of buildings.   It is the same today as it was thousands of years ago.  This means it’s a great place to measure and make comparisons within the environment.

Yellowstone IS open in the winter time.  There is limited access and the only real means of entering the Park is by snow coach or snow mobile.  The two open gates are in West Yellowstone and Gardiner.  A winter experience in Yellowstone is truly special and quite different than in summer.  The wildlife is often closer to the roads than in summer.  The snow coaches and snow mobiles can only go so fast so it’s easy to see a lot.  It is cold, but there are plenty of warming huts and facilities along the way.

If you’re looking for a truly cool Bucket List place to visit, Yellowstone in winter cannot be beat.   Keep in touch with us by email on the status of a Winter Academy program.


The Independent Study Project (ISP) is an accredited academic program of YESPI.  Students who complete an ISP will earn two or three American university credits depending on the total hours of field research.  Montana Tech, a public four-year university under the Montana University System, will award the credits and these credits can be transferred to any American university that the student may apply to in the future.

The course syllabus for the ISP program combines classroom lectures and activities with field research work in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  The ISP is embedded in the YESPI Summer and Winter Academy programs.  Students will be expected to select a topic, develop a hypothesis, write a research plan, and then conduct either 45 or 90 hours of field research to test their hypothesis.  They must then present and defend their research findings to a full committee.  This program is a collaboration between YESPI and Montana Tech.

Though students are free to choose their own research topics, YESPI encourages students to select topics in one of four areas:  Wildlife of the Yellowstone, the Role of Fire in the Yellowstone Ecosystem, the geology of the Yellowstone, and Tourism Issues of the world’s first national park.  The students must develop a hypothesis on their topic and then pursue the research necessary to test the hypothesis.  In the end, the ISP must be presented and defended in front of a full committee comprised of teachers, outside observers, and YESPI staff.

The ISP is a key feature of the Summer and Winter Academy.  It is a chance for students to really experience what it is like to be an American university student.



YESPI is developing an internship program for Chinese university students to work in the Yellowstone.  The basic objective is to identify host organizations that are experiencing an increasing number of Chinese tourists and are struggling to serve this new market niche.  The role of the Chinese university student, their job as interns, will be to help this organization deal with this new market opportunity.

This could range from translation to basic Mandarin training for retail staff to creating new marketing campaigns that cater to the Chinese market.  YESPI’s goal for this internship program is to create a win-win scenario for the host organization and the Chinese student.

For the host organization, they can finally prepare strategies and marketing campaigns to better serve and profit from the increasing number of Chinese tourists visiting Yellowstone.  For the Intern, it’s a chance to capture some real world business and professional experience by helping to solve a very real problem.  It’s a problem that, because they are Chinese, they are equipped to handle.

Keep in touch with us by email on the status of this program and the internship positions available.


Programs Made To Order

Sam Korsmoe, the founder and CEO of YESPI, is a Native Montanan.  He has been to Yellowstone Park probably more than 100 times.  He is an avid hunter, fly fisherman, hiker, camper, mountain climber, and educator in and about the Yellowstone.  For this reason, YESPI has a lot of contacts and an extensive network of service providers for its groups.

YESPI is in an excellent position to work with universities, high schools, environmental companies, and travel groups to create Yellowstone programs for their own market niche of students and clients.  How it works is quite simple.  Together with YESPI, the organization creates and agenda for a program in the Yellowstone.  YESPI then administers this agenda from airport pickup to airport drop off.  It is not a YESPI program.  It is YOUR program.  We just do the on-site management of the program in the Yellowstone with our extensive resource base and contacts.

Consider this option when you are thinking of an education, research, photography, or environmental trip to America.


Part of building a connection between Yellowstone and the world is our development of programs for Americans who are curious about China and Vietnam as well as Vietnamese and Chinese students who are curious about America, but perhaps cannot easily attend a YESPI program in America. For these students, we offer the following education programs.


Chinese Studies Camp

The popularity of Mandarin Chinese language studies is growing fast at the high school and university level around the world.  Numerous American high schools now offer Mandarin as a foreign language option.  There are study abroad programs to China.  There are student exchanges.  In our minds as professional educators, these are fantastic developments.  It is no longer a one-way street (i.e. only Chinese students going to America).  It’s a two-way highway – students are going in both directions and some of them are going very fast.

YESPI intends to be part of this.  We are developing a Chinese Studies Camp for American high school students to come to China.  We want to help them experience the world’s largest country in a way that no tourist ever could.  Though we are in the early stages of this new program, we want to focus on four areas:  Cultural Studies, Language, Site & Sounds, and a research project like the ISP that we require for our Yellowstone Summer Academy. 

Take a look at this matrix.  Let us know what you think.  If you want to learn more, please send us an email.  This is something we really, really want to launch.  Stay in the loop on this one.






American Studies Camp

Education is a priority for families around the world.  In the case of China and Vietnam, there are strong cultural links to the importance of education.  The number one priority in terms of investment is the investment in their children’s education.  This begins with kindergarten and goes all the way to universities.

America is still the number one destination of choice for university studies.  Thus, there has been the growth of overseas education programs like YESPI.  Parents want to get their children as ready as possible for overseas education so they send them on overseas study camps. This trend is not likely to slow down anytime soon.

However, not all families can afford to send their child/children to an overseas study camp.  We get this.  We want to bring as much of the YESPI program as possible to China and Vietnam for these students who have the passion, smarts, drive, and work ethic to get a better education.

The American Studies Camp is a program in development.  We have facilities ready to go near Beijing and in Vietnam.  The agenda will be to bring as much of Americana as possible into a foreign location.  We intend to hire American teachers and lecturers, teach about American culture as well as the English language, and otherwise get these students ready for an American university experience.

Keep in touch with us on this one.  It is going to be one of our priority programs.


Vietnam Studies Camp

Though not as popular as Chinese studies, there is significant interest in Vietnam.  The country has over 90 million people so it’s a business destination for many American companies.  It’s fairly new to tourism so its beaches are still pristine with limited development overall.  There are around two million Vietnamese Americans and most are first and second generation Americans.

After launching our Chinese Studies Camp, YESPI intends to do the same thing for Vietnamese studies. 

The YESPI founder, Sam Korsmoe, has direct experience with this field.  He first arrived in Vietnam in 1990 as a tourist because it was Vietnam’s first official ‘Year Of Tourism.’  Later that same year, he moved to Vietnam and studied Vietnamese language for eight months (November 1990 to June 1991) at the University of Hanoi.  During his graduate studies in America (M.A. – University of Washington), he studied Vietnamese and wrote his Master’s Thesis about the Vietnamese economic reforms known as ‘Doi Moi.’  He then lived in Vietnam from 1993 to 2004.  Ultimately, he wrote a book about Vietnam titled ‘Saigon Stories.’  This program will be a priority for Sam and YESPI in the near future.

Keep in touch about this opportunity and send us an email with your questions and ideas.




Summer Academy
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