NatureBridge in Yosemite is a five-day outdoor environmental education program that The McConnell Foundation offers to North State students. NatureBridge is a nonprofit organization that has provided environmental education in partnership with the National Park Service since 1971. In addition to Yosemite, NatureBridge offers programs in Olympic Park, Washington; Headlands Institute at Marin Headlands in the Bay Area; and Santa Monica Mountains Institute in Southern California.
In 1989, The McConnell Foundation began funding theYosemite Program for students in the North State. Each spring, high school sophomores and juniors from public high schools and public charter schools in Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama and Trinity counties, and Big Valley High School in Lassen County spend a transformative week in Yosemite. Groups of students, led by NatureBridge field instructors, explore the park and participate in discussions and activities designed to heighten awareness of the importance of our natural world. Keeping this goal in mind, curriculum taught during the week aligns with state and federal standards.
The Foundation provides full funding for student tuition, transportation, and administration. Adult chaperones from the schools served accompany students on the trip. Students who participate in the program are selected by Yosemite Advisors at each high school. Once selected, participants must complete 8 hours of community service related to the environment. In past years students have volunteered at organizations such as the Shasta County Wildlife Refuge, Whiskeytown Environmental School, the Upper Sacramento River Exchange, Turtle Bay Exploration Park, and the Department of Fish & Game. They have also cleaned up roadways and started recycling programs in their schools. The goal of the community service requirement is to connect students their community and the earth.
The goal of the program is to inspire students to develop a connection to the natural world and empower them to act as responsible stewards of natural resources.
The NatureBridge at Yosemite Program is scheduled for Sunday, April 9 through Friday, April 14, 2017. To actually go on the trip, selected students and alternates must complete 8 hours of community service related to the environment AND turn in their Community Service Verification Form no later than March 1, 2017. This deadline cannot be extended. Students who do not meet the community service requirement will be dropped from the program.