Project overview: Spark learning and conversation about environmental stewardship and human connections to nature and one another through free public presentations by writers, researchers, artists and adventurers.
The backstory: This long-running educational series offers an opportunity to explore topics rooted not only in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, but also in global conversations about science, conservation and our connections to the natural world.
The annual summer series of free weekend presentations, which began in 1992 and has been supported by Conservancy donors since 2011, typically takes place at the historic Parsons Memorial Lodge, which is one of the oldest rustic stone structures in a national park. The presentations, performances and workshops feature perspectives and expertise from a variety of fields, and all honor the lodge’s founding purpose as a vibrant gathering place to share powerful ideas. Conservancy volunteers play a key role in the series, by setting up the lodge, welcoming and seating guests, and selling relevant books.
Past presenters have included renowned writers, musicians, scientists, park rangers, poets and historians, among many other innovative thinkers. Whether hearing about research on Yosemite ecology and geology, learning about the Sierra Nevada’s human history, or listening to nature-based poetry and essays, guests gain a deeper appreciation for the park and our planet.
In 2020, to ensure the safety of presenters, guests and park staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Parsons Memorial Lodge Series moved online. The featured presenters recorded their talks, readings, stories and music either at home or on site in Tuolumne Meadows. The videos, shared on Yosemite National Park and Yosemite Conservancy’s social media and websites, reached tens of thousands of people — a much larger audience than the usual in-person events. If you missed the 2020 series, you can watch the presentations on our website!
This year: While the rangers who coordinate the summer series hope to offer live, in-person weekend experiences during the 2021 season, they are prepared to shift to all-online events if needed. Either way, they plan to offer recorded versions of select presentations, in order to share the series with a wider and more diverse audience. Whether the series takes place in person or virtually in 2021, your donation will support the continued success of a popular Yosemite program that offers unique opportunities to learn about public lands, stewardship values and our relationship to the natural world.
Project partner: Yosemite National Park.