Despite living near Yosemite, many young Californians lack access to the park, facing barriers related to transportation, income or community perceptions. WildLink breaks down those walls to give underserved teens the chance to experience and learn from the wilderness.

During five-day backpacking expeditions, WildLink participants learn outdoor skills, help with ecological restoration and meet with park professionals. Later, they share what they’ve learned about the value of public lands through community-based stewardship projects and presentations, and through WildLink’s family weekends in Yosemite. After the academic-year program, a select group of alumni spends two weeks exploring careers in Yosemite. Graduates of WildLink, a longtime Conservancy grantee, have gone on to work in the National Park Service.

In 2019, with your support, the WildLink team coordinated eight Yosemite expeditions, to May Lake and Mount Hoffmann, Little Yosemite Valley, and the Hetch Hetchy area; welcomed program graduates and their families for a weekend in Tuolumne Meadows; and gave six alumni the opportunity to learn from and work with park professionals through the WildLink Career Connection program. During the 13-day program, the Career Connection participants patrolled the backcountry with wilderness rangers; worked on a restoration project in Mariposa Grove; climbed with the Yosemite Mountaineering School; spent time with biologists, trail crews, firefighters, interpretive rangers, and much more.

Your gifts supported life-changing programs that connect youth to nature in a national park — and in their own neighborhoods.

Completed in partnership with Yosemite National Park and NatureBridge.

Lissie Kretsch

Wilderness Education Coordinator, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

It has never been more relevant for our agency and its partners to share the value of public lands with both younger and more diverse populations.