Project overview: Inspire future stewards through year-round Junior Ranger programming, print workbooks to distribute for free in park, and introduce new adaptive activities and materials to better serve kids with a range of learning needs.
How your support helps: 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 experiences that inspire kids to feel comfortable in and connected to the outdoors.
Each year, 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 wander, practice Leave No Trace skills while meeting in a meadow, or learn about American Indian history next to a bark-covered umacha (a structure made of cedar bark and historically used for shelter by local Tribes) in Yosemite Valley. 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.
Our donors first funded the park’s Junior Ranger activities in the early 2000s. Since then, donors’ support has helped the program expand to offer more activities, at more locations in the park; more than 200,000 children have earned their Yosemite Junior Ranger badges since 2008. In 2021, this grant also funded training to help park educators learn techniques for making their lessons more inclusive and welcoming to all visitors. And in 2022, the park started distributing workbooks for free.
Ultimately, improving Junior Ranger programming for kids with varied learning styles and needs will help create an even more valuable and memorable experience for all participants. Your gifts will enable many more kids and families to participate in enriching educational activities, experience the park in a meaningful way, and develop a lasting appreciation for the outdoors.
This year: In 2024, Yosemite educators will lead hundreds of Junior Ranger programs throughout the park during the summer season, with activities in the Valley the rest of the year. We hope to distribute 16,000 badges based on completion of Junior Ranger books and events. And with your support, we will build on the virtual Junior Ranger bilingual connection, with an intentionally connected, five–part Spanish series of social media videos.
Project partner: Yosemite National Park