YOSEMITE – National Park Service educational partner NatureBridge has opened registration for the Summer Field Research Course at its Yosemite campus, offering a two-week backcountry expedition designed for teenage students.
The immersive program will give young participants the chance to conduct field science investigations for the “ultimate teen summer science adventure,” according to organizers.Nonprofit NatureBridge brought their first students to Yosemite National Park in 1971 and is said to be the largest residential educational partner in the National Park Service (NPS).
NatureBridge leads over 30,000 kids from 600 schools annually through multi-day field science programs in National Parks including Yosemite, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Olympic National park and many others.
Marketing Director Marya Carr has worked with NatureBridge for 15 years, starting her career as a field science instructor in Yosemite. Carr’s passion and enthusiasm for the program is based on experience, some of which began in her teens.
“I loved having a relationship with nature and discovering my love of hiking and feeling strong,” says Carr. “Those things were really important; they helped to make me a strong and confident adult.
“We’re so lucky in the USA that we have the National Park Service. It’s important for the kids to understand: this is your park. It belongs to each and every one of us. It’s everyone’s birthright to have that powerful connection to nature,” says Carr.
Students who attend the NatureBridge camp in Yosemite this summer can plan to work with scientists to produce their own ecological research project and make informed decisions about the Sierra Nevada ecosystem. The program lets participants study the natural world and hopefully inspires them to sustain it, as well.
“NatureBridge is a partner of the NPS, and is able to offer programs with the permission of the Park,” says Carr. “The NPS has a mission to help educate the public and we help them carry out that mission.”
All of the staff at NatureBridge has both education and experience teaching in the field, and all are Wilderness First Responders, trained to respond to emergency situations in remote settings.
NatureBridge courses are open to students from virtually anywhere, including the mountain area. Carr points out ways in which this hands-on, immersive backpacking adventure could be especially beneficial for local kids who are interested in science and nature.
“Especially in the gateway communities people should have a relationship to the Park for economic reasons,” Carr suggests, “and to help them generate ideas about ways to take advantage of all these visitors who are passing through town to get to this iconic park,” Carr suggests. “Students could potentially come up with an idea that could help generate the ‘next big thing’ that provides revenue to the area.”
NatureBridge charges a fee for their programs, some of which are available year-round; details on cost and curriculum can be found online and scholarships may be available depending on need.
“We charge tuition for our programs and we do a lot of work fundraising for scholarships for students, to offset tuition with scholarship for need-based financial assistance,” says Carr.
Each field group is comprised of only 13 students and the organization maintains a staff to camper ratio of 1 to 6, affording kids personal attention along with an emphasis on safety and strong academics.
“They sleep under the stars and it’s a really wonderful combination of ‘fun summer camp experience’ and an academic enrichment experience,” says Carr. “It enables them to have fun and also have something wonderful for that college resume. The students learn to think like scientists.”
In Yosemite, students may choose from two sessions in the summer of 2013: June 30 through July 13, or July 27 through Aug. 9. Students interested in the program are encouraged to contact NatureBridge directly at (209) 379-9511 Ext. 19 or email@example.com.
To learn more about the Summer Field Research programs and to register online, visit http://www.naturebridge.org/yosemite-summer-field-research-course