In partnership with the University of California, Merced, the park is working to educate, inspire and, ultimately, employ a new cadre of diverse public lands leaders. Many UC Merced students come from populations that historically have been underserved by Yosemite and other parks.

Three interconnected programs help bridge gaps between the park and neighboring communities, while shaping the next generation of environmental champions:

  • Student rangers based at the on-campus Wilderness Education Center help their community connect with Yosemite through educational resources, field trips and stewardship projects, and they lead activities for local fourth-graders through the Every Kid in a Park initiative.
  • The academic-year Yosemite Leadership Program encourages undergraduates to become lifelong stewards through four semesters of environmental studies, personal and professional development, and hands-on projects.
  • Through the annual Yosemite Leadership Program Summer Internship, college students spend 12 weeks working with professionals in the park, where they receive valuable on-the-job training and complete projects that benefit Yosemite. This highly regarded program serves as a pathway to public lands careers for students who otherwise might not have the chance to visit or work in a national park.

In 2019, with your support, the Wilderness Education Center’s student rangers led 35 Yosemite field trips for more than 1,500 students, delivered 27 educational presentations at local schools, and piloted new pop-up programs on campus. Yosemite Leadership Program students completed rigorous coursework and completed seven stewardship-oriented capstone projects to benefit their communities. Over the summer, the 2019 summer interns worked alongside experts in fields such as design and engineering, wilderness management, education, and Search and Rescue, gaining invaluable experience in park-based careers.

Your contributions helped shape a new generation of leaders on campus and in the park.

Completed in partnership with Yosemite National Park and University of California, Merced, as well as numerous local, regional and national organizations.

Sabrina Diaz

Acting Division Chief of Interpretation and Education, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

The Yosemite Leadership Program Summer Internship is poised to become a national flagship for youth programming and Department of the Interior pathways into public lands careers.