Youth of all ages participate in Conservancy-funded programs designed to build the skills and experience needed to pursue their dreams for the future. From young children getting their Junior Ranger Badge during a day visit, to high school students embarking on their first multi-day backpacking trip, these programs make it possible for youth to experience nature while learning environmental stewardship and personal development skills.
By completing ranger-led nature walks, finishing workbooks, and engaging in hands-on activities, kids can earn their Junior Ranger Badge. This program encourages a love of the outdoors, national parks, and a healthy lifestyle from an early age.
Education and Leadership
Students are paired with college mentors through a range of academic and physical activities designed to improve literacy and leadership skills in the Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC) program. Thanks to Conservancy funding, in 2011 ARC reached almost 80 students in Yosemite who came away with valuable leadership, environmental stewardship and community building skills that will help them achieve their goals and dreams for the future.
Through WildLink, underserved high school aged youth are provided that crucial first introduction to Yosemite and the opportunity to consider careers in the park service by shadowing park rangers and participating in workshops led by Conservancy naturalists.
For older students, the Yosemite Leadership Program (YLP) provides opportunities for University of California, Merced undergraduates to work alongside park staff, gaining practical, field-based experience. The two-year internship culminates in a symposium held in Yosemite Valley where students present their projects to the visiting public and park managers.
Restoration and Conservation
The Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), provides youth ages 15-18 the opportunity to spend eight weeks living in the park where they restore campgrounds, install bear-proof lockers, remove invasive plants, and restore backcountry trails. Along the way, participants gain invaluable environmental and life skills that mark the beginning of a life-long commitment to protecting natural places.
As the oldest and largest state conservation corp program in the country, the California Conservation Corps (CCC) has been training young adults (ages 18-25) in trail restoration while developing life skills in Yosemite since 1976. In addition to comprehensive training in dry-stone masonry techniques, youth also learn about ecology, resource management, sustainability, wilderness survival training and career development.
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) provides college interns the opportunity to live and work in Yosemite during a 35 day wilderness program where crews remove invasive plants, restore abandoned or “social” trails and remove inappropriate campsites. SCA crews generally survey over 15 square miles (9,600 acres), walking over 40 miles in about 30 days. Thanks to Conservancy funding, students come away with self-confidence and skills for the future.