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Youth in Yosemite Programs inspire young people of all ages to protect our parks

Yosemite Conservancy contributed $1.6 million in 2015 to help fund 12 Youth in Yosemite Programs where children, teens and young adults from diverse backgrounds are inspired to become the next generation of environmental stewards, while completing projects that benefit the park.

“It’s important to create a new generation interested in conserving natural places for our public lands to thrive in the future. Youth in Yosemite Programs inspire a life-long devotion to caring for our national parks,” said Yosemite Conservancy President Frank Dean.

Youth in Yosemite Programs span the entire range of youth development - from children earning a Junior Ranger program badge during day trips to young adults restoring back country trails and receiving on-the-job training for future careers in Yosemite and beyond.

Since 2011, Yosemite Conservancy donors have contributed $7.5 million to Youth in Yosemite Programs. Youth participants contribute to projects that preserve and protect Yosemite by helping restore natural habitat and improve wilderness areas throughout the park.

The park benefits from repaired bridges, restored trails and back country campsites, removal of invasive plants and more opportunities to provide visitor information. Youth develop real-world skills while helping make Yosemite a better place.

“Youth programs open up a new world for kids, many of whom are from underserved communities and have never been to a national park,” said Dean. “For others, it is their first hike, their first campsite, and the discovery of new educational, career and life choices that would not be available otherwise.”

For many children, their interest in conservation starts with the Junior Ranger program. Each year, more than 20,000 children ages 7-13 develop an appreciation for protecting natural resources by learning about park wildlife, habitat and history.

New to the program this year is content about how to enjoy parks safely. For teens, Adventure Risk Challenge improves literacy, leadership and wilderness skills for underserved California high school youth as part of a 40-day immersion in Yosemite’s back country.

Participants in the new National Parks Youth Conservation Corps program for youth ages 15-18 live in Yosemite for two months and work with National Park Service personnel to improve trails and campgrounds and to restore habitat.

The program is a partnership between the National Park Service and the Student Conservation Association, which brings together a diverse group of underserved youth, with a focus on stewardship of public lands, environmental education and career building.

For young adults ages 18-25, the California Conservation Corps (CCC) program employs, develops and educates young people as they help to restore Yosemite’s 800 miles of trails and protect the park’s natural resources.

In 2015, CCC participants are improving approximately 50 miles of the Lyell Fork area wilderness trail located in the Merced Watershed near Isburg Pass.

Another program, the Yosemite Leadership Program (YLP) Summer Internship is one of the premier internships in the National Park Service and is recognized for its ability to recruit highly qualified, culturally diverse college students and provide them with the opportunity to live and work in the park for 12 weeks during the summer.

Students work alongside park staff to gain practical field experience in resource management, interpretation, and Preventive Search and Rescue, to name a few areas of opportunity. Each team also completes a stewardship project that benefits the park. Some of the projects completed include developing a visitor handout on park fishing regulations, creating a Yosemite National Park employee newsletter, and producing and presenting new visitor interpretive programs at the Wawona Campground.

The National Park Service and several nonprofit organizations conduct Youth in Yosemite programs. An inspiring Youth in Yosemite video with perspective from program participants is on the Yosemite Conservancy website at yosemiteconservancy.org/youth-Yosemite-videohttp://www.yosemiteconservancy.org/youth-yosemite-video> .

Through the support of donors, Yosemite Conservancy provides grants and support to Yosemite National Park to help preserve and protect Yosemite today and for future generations. Work funded by the Conservancy is visible throughout the park, in trail rehabilitation, wildlife protection and habitat restoration. The Conservancy is also dedicated to enhancing the visitor experience and providing a deeper connection to the park through outdoor programs, volunteering, wilderness services and its bookstores.

Thanks to dedicated supporters, the Conservancy has provided more than $92 million in grants to Yosemite National Park. Learn more at yosemiteconservancy.org http://www.yosemiteconservancy.org> or call 1-800-469-7275.

Yosemite Conservancy

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