Parallel programs at the University of California, Merced — the Yosemite Leadership Program (YLP) and Wilderness Education Center (WEC) — are inspiring new Yosemite ambassadors and forging strong ties between the park and surrounding communities.

The two-year YLP course encourages students to become lifelong public-lands stewards through environmental studies, personal and professional development, and hands-on projects. During the summer, YLP participants can apply for summer internships in the park, made possible through Conservancy donors’ support. At the on-campus WEC, student rangers encourage the university community to discover Yosemite through educational materials, adventures and stewardship activities, and help implement the national Every Kid in a Park initiative by teaching local fourth-graders about the natural world and their nearby national park.

In 2018, the 13 Wilderness Education Center student rangers shared Yosemite-based experiences with thousands of students through 37 field trips to the park and 36 educational presentations at local schools. Meanwhile, in addition to completing their spring and fall coursework, Yosemite Leadership Program students organized seven stewardship projects in Yosemite other locations, and completed five capstone projects, which included helping local high school students build wilderness skills and creating a new mural on campus.

Your contribution supported interwoven programs that are shaping a new generation of leaders on campus and in the park.

Completed in partnership with Yosemite National Park and University of California, Merced.

Jesse Chakrin

Park Ranger

Project Notes

College students have a cool factor that opens lines of communications with high-school students. We hope to instill in them an environmental ethic they will carry forward into whatever profession they choose.