NatureBridge in Yosemite

Yosemite1NatureBridge 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.

yosimite3In 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 order to secure their spot. 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.


Student applications for the 2020 NatureBridge in Yosemite Program will be accepted October 1 – October 20, 2019.  The trip is scheduled for Sunday, April 5 through Friday, April 10, 2020.  This is spring break for many schools.

The Foundation provides full funding for tuition, lodging, meals, and transportation, and organizes program logistics for students selected to participate in this week-long program.  The “cost” to selected students is a refundable $50.00 deposit  and 8 hours of community service related to the environment.

This program is for students who are:

  • First-time participants in the NatureBridge program*
  • Interested in the environment and/or the outdoors
  • Sophomores or juniors age 17 and under from public high schools and public charter schools in Shasta, Siskiyou, Trinity, Tehama and Modoc Counties
  • Physically able to participate in activities that vary in difficulty from strenuous hikes and/or vertical climbing to leisurely walks
  • Responsible, trustworthy, and comfortable in a group setting
  • Mature and respectful of authority; able to take direction and comply with rules
  • Foreign exchange students under the age of 18 may apply with written consent from their host family

*New this year:  a limited number of second-year “Mentor Students” will be included in our group.  “Mentor Students” are students who participated in the 2019 Yosemite Program and would like to participate in 2020.  Mentor Students:

  • Participated in the 2019 Yosemite Program
  • Attends a public high school or public charter school in Shasta, Siskiyou, Trinity, Tehama or Modoc County
  • Will not be an adult (18 years old) at the time of the trip April 5-10, 2020
  • Is recommended by a McConnell chaperone who is familiar with student’s prior experience and behavior in Yosemite

For more information on the NatureBridge in Yosemite Program funded by The McConnell Foundation, contact Program Coordinator Ana Bachman at or 530-226-6235.


  • Community Service Requirement and Ideas
  • Community Service Verification Form
  • Student Information Packet
  • Clothing and Equipment List
  • Transportation Schedule
  • Important Dates and Deadlines
  • NatureBridge Registration Instructions and LINK

For more information about the Yosemite Program visit or contact Program Coordinator Ana Bachman at

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