Project overview: Offer a summer seminar in Yosemite focused on helping veterans take advantage of educational and career opportunities, led by experts from UC Merced, NPS, CalVet, and corporate partners.

How your support helps: In 2019 and 2021, Conservancy donors helped fund two week-long, Yosemite-based pilot seminars for veterans, drawing on the park’s power as an inspirational outdoor classroom. Building on the success of those inaugural courses and participants’ positive feedback, the park is working with the University of California, Merced, to design and deliver a permanent summer program focused on helping veterans understand how to apply their benefits to access educational and career opportunities.

According to state data, as many as a quarter of veterans living in California aren’t familiar with how to access educational and career resources available through the GI Bill. This seminar aims to close that gap, by connecting veterans directly with educators from UC Merced, Yosemite, CalVet, and a variety of other partners. During classroom-based lessons and guided hikes, veterans will learn about their benefits and explore options for continuing their education at institutions such as UC Merced, and for pursuing employment in a variety of fields, including in the National Park Service.

This year: With your support, the 2022 seminar will present a unique opportunity for veterans to tap into the healing power of Yosemite and the natural world, as they connect with academic, public, and corporate leaders, and with one another, in an incomparably inspiring outdoor setting.

Learn more about the 2022 seminar on the UC Merced website.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park; University of California, Merced; CalVet; CalFire; California Highway Patrol; U.S. Forest Service; Merced Sunrise Rotary Club; Gallo Family; Starbucks; and Union Pacific

Kevin Killian

Chief Ranger, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

“This seminar will use the unique educational power of Yosemite National Park and the unmatched institutional power of the University of California to address significant challenges to veterans’ wellbeing in California.”