Located about 80 miles from Yosemite’s western border, the University of California, Merced, has deep connections to the park. On-campus resources and academic-year programming at UC Merced are helping to shape a new generation of Yosemite ambassadors and stewards, while forging strong ties between the park and surrounding communities.
The two-year Yosemite Leadership Program (YLP) at UC Merced integrates leadership training with personal and professional development opportunities to create generations of socially engaged, environmentally aware park stewards. Program participants also help run the on-campus Wilderness Education Center, which encourages students, faculty, staff and community members to discover Yosemite’s natural and cultural resources through educational materials, field trips, stewardship projects and more. During the summer, YLP participants have the opportunity to apply for summer internships in the park, made possible through Conservancy donors’ support.
In 2016, in addition to completing their classroom curriculum, YLP participants completed hands-on environmental projects that included a water quality study, phenology research at UC Merced's natural reserve, and a backpacking experience for local high school students. Meanwhile, the student rangers at the Wilderness Education Center connected with more than 33,680 visitors on campus, and led dozens of field trips, including 16 "Every Kid in a Park" excursions that brought more than 1,860 fourth-graders to Yosemite.
Your gifts in 2016 helped support a program that shapes a new generation of leaders on campus and in the park, and serves as a strong bridge between Yosemite and UC Merced.
Completed in partnership with Yosemite National Park and University of California, Merced.
What's it like to work at the UC Merced Wilderness Education Center? Find out on our blog.