Project goal: Inspire Yosemite’s future stewards through year-round Junior Ranger activities that encourage kids and families to explore, learn about and protect the natural world.

Why this work matters: Spending time outside has well-documented benefits for kids, from improving physical health, to sparking creativity and reducing stress levels. For many children, though, growing up has become a largely indoor activity. Yosemite’s Junior Ranger programs create fun, educational outdoor experiences that inspire kids to feel comfortable in and connected to the natural world.

Each year, tens of thousands of children earn their wooden Yosemite Junior Ranger badges through ranger-led walks and talks, educational worksheets, and stewardship activities. Participants might explore ecology during a forest walk, practice Leave No Trace skills while meeting a meadow, or learn about American Indian history while sitting in an umacha near the Valley Visitor Center.

Yosemite’s youngest visitors aren’t the only ones who benefit from Junior Ranger programs. Many activities lend themselves to intergenerational engagement, prompting older siblings, parents, grandparents and other family members to learn and explore, too.

In 2020, Yosemite educators will lead multiple daily Junior Ranger programs throughout the park during the busy summer season, with activities in the Valley the rest of the year. They’ll also coordinate special “spring break” activities from March to mid-April; refine offerings at popular spots, such as Happy Isles and the Valley Visitor Center; and pilot Spanish-language programming.

How your support helps: Our donors first funded the park’s Junior Ranger activities in the early 2000s, and they have helped propel the program’s expansion over the past decade. Thanks to that support, nearly 230,000 children have earned their Yosemite Junior Ranger badges since 2008. Your gifts will enable thousands more kids and families to participate in enriching educational activities, experience the park in a meaningful way, and develop a stewardship ethic and appreciation for the outdoors that will stick with them long after their visit.

Partnering with Yosemite National Park.

Bob Loudon

Branch Chief of Field Interpretation, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

"The Yosemite Junior Ranger Program offers opportunities for youth and their families to get immersed in the 'real,' natural world in Yosemite National Park and become the next generation of national park stewards."