In partnership with the National Park Service, Yosemite Conservancy has ensured even more children have the chance to experience the Junior Ranger program.

Engaging Children in Nature

Over the years, with support from Conservancy donors, Yosemite has expanded its Junior Ranger programming to reach more children in locations throughout the park. From the Happy Isles Nature Center in Yosemite Valley to Wawona, Tuolumne Meadows and Big Oak Flat, ranger-led programs, self-guided Junior Ranger worksheets, hands-on clean-up projects and other activities help children and their families explore the park, learn about nature and become active environmental stewards.

Since 2009, when the Conservancy began funding the park’s Junior Ranger program, more than 150,000 children have earned a Junior Ranger badge. During the busy season, programs are offered at least five times per day in every district of the park; in slower months, Junior Ranger programming continues in the Valley on weekends.

Shaping Future Park Stewards at Happy Isles

Prior to 2009, the Happy Isles Nature Center had limited hours, and was open only during the summer. Support from the Conservancy ensures staff and volunteers are available to accommodate the many school field trips that arrive in Yosemite Valley in the spring and fall, as well as numerous family groups in the summer months. Donors also helped fund facility upgrades and a new Junior Ranger exhibit at Happy Isles, including a learning “nook” that offers dedicated space and equipment to introduce kids to environmental stewardship.

Engaging Kids with Innovative Programming

Support from Conservancy donors has enabled the park to introduce enriching new Junior Ranger programming and materials. In recent years, with donor support, rangers have

  • incorporated iPads into Yosemite’s Junior Ranger programs, leveraging a modern tool to connect with today’s tech-savvy kids;
  • developed activities and worksheets focused on Preventive Search and Rescue (PSAR) as a way to educate children and their families on park safety; and
  • replaced the traditional plastic Junior Ranger badges with beautiful new versions made from sustainable wood.

In 2014, 2015 and 2016, the park also created programming and badges designed to celebrate milestones in Yosemite’s history: the 150th anniversary of the groundbreaking Yosemite Grant Act (2014), the 125th anniversary of Yosemite becoming a  national park (2015), and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (2016).

Thanks to your continued support, Yosemite has been able to expand its Junior Ranger programming significantly to help tens of thousands of children learn about and connect with the outdoors and Yosemite every year.

Shauna Potocky

Branch Chief of Education

Project Notes

These programs help make meaningful and lifelong connections for youth to places such as Yosemite.