The Yosemite Fund is seeking $1 million for youth programs at Yosemite National Park.
Donations will pay for hands-on activities at the park, including a program for teens to repair backcountry trails and a plan that would allow children to help expand the Happy Isles Nature Center.
"These programs build knowledge, leadership skills and a love for the outdoors," said Mike Tollefson, president of the nonprofit Yosemite Fund, in a Monday press release. "In many cases, youth work side by side with National Park Service employees doing projects that preserve, protect and improve the park. Amid Yosemite’s grandeur, young lives are changed.”
Plans for 2010 include:
- Crews with the California Conservation Corps (CCC), a program for young adults in their late teens and early 20s, will repair several front country trails and more than 60 miles of backcountry trails.
- Forty members of the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), a program for 15-to 18-year-olds, will spend eight weeks living in the park restoring 35 miles of trail, replacing 350 fire rings, and taking action to reduce the potential for fires in meadows.
-A Student Conservation Association (SCA) program will have college interns removing inappropriate trails and non-native plants, as well as scanning 18,000 images from Yosemite's archives, preserving them for future generations.
-Junior Ranger educational programs for children ages 7-13 and exhibits at Happy Isles Nature Center will expand, helping excite more children with a taste of Yosemite's unique natural features.
Contributions to Youth in Yosemite programs can be made at http://www.yosemitefund.org or by calling 1 (800) 4-MY-PARK.
Erin Anders, who today manages National Park Service trail crews, found direction through youth conservation programs. He grew up in a tough part of Los Angeles working odd jobs before he saw a CCC poster and applied for the program.
"My CCC experience refocused my life," Anders was quoted in the press release. "I wanted to work outdoors and to do something that showed tangible results that benefited the land and people. The CCCs gave me that opportunity."
Like Anders, many who started in the CCC and YCC have gone on to careers in the National Park Service, according to the Yosemite Fund.
"YCC participants have found career paths as biologists, trail interpreters, firefighters, and park utilities and communications specialists. It has worked out fantastically,” said Jose Lopez, YCC Program Manager. Today, more than a dozen YCC alumni work in Yosemite.
Intern Adam Fix, a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, has been working with the SCA on preserving its historic resources. "Although my life is short and insignificant compared to Half Dome or the Sequoia, I can use that time to help ensure places like this are preserved," he said.
Donor funding will keep the Happy Isles Junior Ranger Center open nine months a year, seven days a week in 2010, and update museum exhibits. Last year, more than 27,000 children went through the Junior Ranger Program in Yosemite.
"We're providing programs to help show young people the magic of our national parks," said Victoria Mates, who manages interpretive programs for the National Park Service in Yosemite. "It's a connection we hope they will carry with them the rest of their lives."