For the Love of... The Taft-Nicholson Center

For Environmental Humanities Education

“Just a teardrop down from the Continental Divide, in one of the most remote hideaways in the United States, is a place that should be called Hope. At 6,700 feet above sea level, Centennial Valley is high, mostly dry and slack-jaw beautiful. The fact that there are more trumpeter swans here than people is a story that tells much about why the American West has never been more vibrant.” 

Timothy Egan, The New York Times


As a new and official extension of the University of Utah campus, the Taft-Nicholson Center works to bridge the arts and humanities with the sciences through academic study, field work, and community engagement. The center aims to increase environmental literacy, boost environmental awareness, and inspire personal connection to nature and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 

Students, teachers, researchers, artists, scientists and community members participate in the center’s diverse educational programming––sharing their perspectives on the natural world and preparing themselves to create change in positive and meaningful ways. 


Centennial Valley is a remarkable place and one of the most biologically important landscapes in the northern Rocky Mountains. At 40 miles long and 15 miles wide, Centennial Valley is a critical wildlife migration corridor to Yellowstone National Park. 

Situated in the historically restored town of Lakeview, the Taft-Nicholson Center was originally a stagecoach stop for tourists traveling to Yellowstone Park. In 2005, Lakeview was purchased and beautifully restored by John and Melody Taft and Bill and Sandi Nicholson and in 2013 they generously gifted the center to the University of Utah.

Montana Programs and Symposiums

Montana State University offers an exciting program, now in its second year, which brings together a seminal group of educators and environmental leaders to study major issues in environmental leadership. The workshop is a partnership between the University of Utah’s Environmental Humanities graduate program and the Montana State University Environmental Leadership Program.

University of Montana professor of geography, Rick Graetz, co-directs a Crown of the Continent Initiative program. In September 2015, the Taft-Nicholson Center will host Rick Graetz and his students for the “Greater Yellowstone Field Course.” 

The center also offers symposiums open to the public much like the highly successful Reimagine Western Landscapes symposium held in August 2014. 

2015 Community Events:
Programs and Workshops

The center’s Artist-in-Residence program offers dedicated artists a supportive and transformational environment to further their creative development. Artists from diverse multidisciplinary fields are encouraged to apply.

Artists at work: Artists from all artistic mediums are welcome to celebrate, create and share at the Taft-Nicholson Center. This workshop held Sept. 24-28, 2015, is open to the public and will feature a special guest.

Tutored by the land: Noted nature writer and photographer Stephen Trimble will take visitors through the steps used by the great practitioners of creative nonfiction. Morning workshops and afternoon field trips will alternate and intersect in the wild landscapes and wildlife communities of Montana’s remarkable Centennial Valley. This workshop held Sept. 15-21, 2015, is open to the public.

Working with the community: Every season the center hosts a barbecue bringing the historical society, the Centennial Valley Association, and other wonderful community members together to celebrate the legacy of the Valley.

Center participants and students participate in service learning projects aimed to engage the local community, to steward the landscape, and to learn about Centennial Valley. Some examples of current and developing projects are invasive weed education and removal, stream and riparian restoration, fence removal adjustments and research partnerships. The center collaborates on projects with the Red Rocks Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, the local Nature Conservancy and the Centennial Valley Association.  

The Taft-Nicholson Center is open June through October and has, on average, 300 participants per season.

Please visit the web site at

For more information please contact:

Mary Tull, Director of the Taft-Nicholson Center
[email protected]
(801) 864-9622
Frank Carter, Regional Director for Communications and Development
[email protected]
(307) 699-1445


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