The southern Sierra Nevada region contains many economically disadvantaged communities who are unable to experience the wild places around them.
More and more youth feel disconnected from their communities and the natural habitats surrounding them. However, we believe that healing in our communities can be enhanced by reconnecting to Mother Nature in direct ways such as planting willows in a meadow or restoring river banks after a fire.
Immersed in the Wild guides participants on multi-day backpacking and camping trips through the Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument, teaching them leadership skills, nature ethic principles, habitat restoration techniques, traditional plant uses, archaeological site stewardship, cultural identity, art, and activism. Youth and adults alike return city-side more empowered, fresh, and renewed, and better prepared to be credible witnesses towards the protection of three endangered resources: land, rivers, and youth.
Three components make Immersed in the Wild a unique, outside-the-box program:
- A nature ethic or habitat restoration activity where volunteers can see their work as an investment in the future health of the land, water, and people.
- Critical thinking sessions that host a variety of activists who inspire volunteers to, in the words of one of our session leaders Dolores Huerta, “push back respectfully” on unfit paradigms that are ruining our world.
- Cultural identity is woven in as the songs, dance, language, and traditional arts of not only peoples but the animals, plants, and four elements of nature are invigorated and shown to be not extinct but rather alive and well.
But safety is our number one priority. We provide all the gear, permits, and logistics necessary. Our experienced field guides ensure high safety standards, outstanding meals, and a mind expanding education. Margaret Meade describes them best: “Never doubt that a small number of committed people can change the world.”
Outdoor Science Classroom
We provide locations, equipment, and logistical support so teachers and their students can use outdoor classrooms. Lessons compliant with the California State Board of Education Content Standards are conducted in an experiential atmosphere intended to be frequently and affordably utilized throughout the school semester rather then just as a yearly field trip. Granite Hills High School’s Earth Science class participates in our pilot Outdoor Science Classroom each semester as part of their classroom curriculum. Hands-on activities take place at River Ridge Ranch in Springville and at Yaudanchi Ecological Reserve in Porterville.
Outdoor Educator Workshops
We train local and regional community members, educators, activists, land owners, scientists, and others to be outdoor educators and facilitators for WildPlaces’ outdoor education programs. Both experienced and new educators and facilitators emerge from the training more connected as a team, more prepared for the field conditions, and inspired by nature to work strongly together for youth empowerment.
Special thanks to the Native American youth group Daughters of Tradition, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, the Owens Valley Career Development Center, Walt Whitman Continuation High School in Los Angeles, Homies Organizing Youth to Empower the Mission in San Francisco, Granite Hills High School, La Sierra High School in Porterville, and others.