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, the National Park Service, CalVet, and corporate partners.

How your support helps: In 2019, Conservancy donors helped fund a weeklong, Yosemite-based pilot seminar for veterans, drawing on the park’s power as an inspirational outdoor classroom. Building on the success of that inaugural course and participants’ positive feedback, the park is working with the University of California, Merced, to design and deliver another summer seminar 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: In 2024, with your support, we will again hold the seminar for at least 16 veterans. This event presents 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 one another in an incomparably inspiring outdoor setting. 

Learn more about the seminar on the UC Merced website.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park; CalVet; University of California, Merced; Gallo; Starbucks; and Union Pacific

Steve Shackelton

Project Notes

“The physical, mental, and spiritual health that comes from outdoor activity in parks can become part and parcel of an energetic, productive, and confident outlook on life.”