Rocky Mountain Youth Resources

The mission of Rocky Mountain Youth Resources (RMYR) is to empower and support youth to become independent, responsible adults.

 At RMYR, youth experience relationships characterized by safety, protection, and care. We set healthy limits in a caring, structured community, giving youth confidence to try out positive behaviors, to build on individual strengths, and to learn from mistakes. RMYR believes that all youth need a supportive environment that allows them to develop wellness, express their individuality, and learn the skill to live independently.

 Rocky Mountain Youth Resources (RMYR) provides services to over 100 youth from communities across the state of Montana annually. RMYR helps youth who are abused, unwanted, runaways, chemically dependent, or emotionally troubled by equipping them with life skills to overcome severe situational disadvantages. RMYR operates two youth homes located in Helena: the Jan Shaw Therapeutic Youth Home for girls and the Margaret Stuart Youth Home for boys and girls.

The primary focus of the Youth Garden Project was to maintain a sustainable summer garden at each youth home, incorporating health wellness, and prevention into Rocky Mountain Youth Resources’ Independent Living Training (ILT) program curriculum. The gardens were constructed, planted, and maintained solely by the youth in the homes with the assistance of community volunteers. The project intended to teach the residents of RMYR about the environment, healthy nutrition, gardening skills, and responsibility. The main project goals were as follows:

Promote health, wellness, and overall healthy living.

  • Stimulate healthy diet habits with access to fresh produce.
  • Expose youth to nutritional health education through the Independent Living Training Program, using the youth garden as a primary tool.
  • Utilize the garden project as an intervention strategy for many clients with poor health and nutrition.
    • At the time the gardens were built, we had two pregnant women in our care. It is crucial for them to receive optimal nutrition while eating for two, and to generally understand the importance of healthy eating.
    • Within the last year, we have experienced an increase in diabetic clients. For these clients, diet and nutrition is an obstacle they will have to manage the rest of their lives. The acquisition of knowledge regarding diet and nutrition will benefit them beyond their stay with RMYR.

Teach youth at RMYR the value of environmental sustainability.

  • Invite local organic farmers to serve as educators through the ILT program.
  • Youth will learn the connection between what they are eating and where it comes from.
  • Educational resources in botany, composting, organic gardening, pesticide use and safety, soils and fertilizers, and environmental sciences.
  • Unique opportunity for ILT community volunteer guest speaker sessions.

Teach responsibility, work ethic, and patience through hands-on learning opportunities.

  • Gardening is a process, requiring time, effort, and hard work. All skills of which we hope to expose our youth to in preparation for adulthood.
  • Teach the budget benefits of growing your own seasonal produce.
  • Foster gardening as a future hobby and basic life skill. Exposure to grounds keeping and gardening would introduce future career pursuits within the green industry.

Implementation of this summer garden project resulted in resourceful activities and new opportunities for our youth to learn, build skills, and develop their interests. Over the past couple of summers the girls at the Jan Shaw Youth Home have grown a variety of things in the garden, including peppers and strawberries.  The girls harvest everything they grow with the assistance of staff members and volunteers.

This year’s project included releasing praying mantis and ladybugs into the garden to get rid of the ants that were taking over some of the plants.

Preying Mantis JS

Lady Bugs JS

Rocky Mountain Youth Resources was a 2012 recipient of RHI Incubator Mini-Grant funding this spring. The gardens’ start date was April 21st and the project will conclude this fall when harvesting of the gardens is complete. RMYR has partnered with the Rocky Mountain Development Council to reach at-risk youth in Lewis & Clark County.

For more information, please contact:

Emily McVey
Program Director