This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Our 2022 Annual Report is now available.
Close this search box.



Parks California is proud to announce our 2024 Route to Parks Grantees! These 29 non-profits and community organizations, located throughout California, will receive grant funding to facilitate access to state parks and create memorable experiences, reaching an estimated 5,300 participants this year.

Currently in its fourth-year cycle, Parks California’s Route to Parks grants program was established to reduce transportation barriers and help more people get to a state park, so they can begin to develop a connection, appreciation, and love for nature.

This program is made possible through a public private partnership, supported by private fundraising by Parks California, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s Waterway Connections Initiative.

Through this partnership, Parks California is excited to expand the 2024 Route to Parks grants program with increased opportunities for water-related outdoor access and experiences. Route to Parks is aligned with the goals of California Natural Resources Agency’s Outdoors for All program.

The 2024 Route to Parks Grantees are:

Adventure Risk Challenge, ARC Increases Access to Parks for Rural, Under-represented Youth

Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC) is a youth development and outdoor education non-profit committed to expanding equitable access to literacy and leadership development and to nature-based and recreational experiences. ARC engages high school students from rural communities in Central and Northern California through a multi-year program progression. Academic-year programming is embedded within four rural high schools and includes weekly cohort meetings and monthly outdoor trips. Immersive, month-long summer courses incorporate multiple backpacking trips and hundreds of hours of literacy and leadership curriculum. ARC aims to provide many entry points to program participation, to eliminate as many barriers to engagement as possible, and to offer increasingly individualized leadership development opportunities to students the longer they remain engaged. ARC’s most unique characteristics are the integration of writing and public speaking (literacy skills) with outdoor leadership experiences, the long-term programming approach, and the relationships formed within. This grant will fund 16 weekend trips for marginalized youth to eight California state parks.

BIPOC Support Foundation, Explore Outdoors Program

BIPOC Support Foundation’s program is thoughtfully designed to benefit 30 underserved students, aged 10-13, offering them a transformative 3-week summer camp experience. This program places a strong emphasis on providing young learners with unprecedented access to parks, beaches, environmental education, conservation practices, and mindfulness activities. The driving force behind the program’s creation is the invaluable feedback received from previous camp surveys and concerned parents within the community. Surveys have consistently highlighted the critical need for a program tailored to students who have limited opportunities for outdoor excursions and environmental experiences. Many of these students face barriers to accessing parks and beaches, which subsequently affects their understanding of the vital role waterways play in environmental conservation. BIPOC Support Foundation firmly believe that by immersing these young participants in nature and imparting essential knowledge about environmental conservation, we can make a profound and lasting positive impact on their lives.

City Heights Community Development Corporation,

BLVD to Beach 2.0 – Community Access to Silver Strand State Beach

BLVD to Beach 2.0 will be led by City Heights Community Development Corporation (CHCDC) in partnership with Outdoor Outreach and the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. The program will offer experiential bike rides for participants from inland, economically disadvantaged communities to access and enjoy Silver Strand State Beach (SSSB). These engaging and empowering bike rides will teach participants how to reach the coast via alternative modes of transportation and increase participants’ coastal access abilities. CHCDC will coordinate 3 community bike rides and 3 overnight camping experiences in state parks.

City of Dreams, Super Saturdays,

City of Dreams empowers youth, aged 7-24, in Bayview Hunters-Point public housing communities through impactful programs. City of Dreams’ trifecta of offerings includes Saturday group mentorship, after-school garden and wellness education, and teen life coaching. They host invigorating “Super Saturdays” that include transport, nutritious meals, and dynamic youth development experiences in diverse outdoor settings, encompassing local and state parks, along with scenic beaches. Activities spanning hiking, surfing, kayaking, fishing, and camping foster skill development, bolster self-confidence, and harness the myriad health benefits of the great outdoors. This initiative aims to inspire, educate, and transform the lives of underrepresented youth by providing them with enriching experiences in nature that will leave an indelible mark on their personal growth and well-being.

City Surf Project, CSP’s Surfing 101 and Alumni Driver Development

City Surf Project’s (CSP) Surfing 101 is a cohort-based program that uses surfing to help students form a connection to nature, build supportive relationships with peers and mentors, and improve their health and wellbeing. Each outing includes four hours of community with peers and mentors, two of which involve physical activities in nature. CSP provides everything students need to get in the ocean: transportation to and from the beach (usually Pacifica State Beach), equipment, nutritious snacks, and skilled instruction and mentorship from our highly trained Lead Surf Coaches and Alumni Surf Coaches.
CSP offers Surfing 101 in partnership with San Francisco Unified School District middle and high schools, with each student participating in up to 33 surf outings per year. In 2024, Surfing 101 will serve 80 middle and high school students, the majority of whom are youth of color and low-income youth. This project will also provide driving lessons for six transitional aged youth who work as Alumni Surf Coaches, helping them to become licensed to drive, creating more flexibility in our program schedules, providing youth with transferable skills, and increasing their ability to access the coast and other natural areas. Alumni Coaches are recent Surfing 101 graduates who are teachers and role models to our students. Like our Surfing 101 students, Alumni Coaches are youth of color and youth from low-income households, a shared identity which can be helpful in the bonding process.

Color the Outdoors CORP, CTO’s Outdoor Education Club

Color the Outdoors CORP’s program is focused on connecting and reconnecting middle school youth from Title I schools to the outdoors. We also want to provide youth with the skills and growth mindset to build beautiful long-lasting relationships with the outdoors. We plan to develop an Outdoor Education Clubs within schools to lead multiple excursions locally & in California State Parks. For our winter program we plan to introduce winter activities like snow shoeing. For the fall program we’d like participants to continue exploring with water safety and water activities including paddle boarding, kayaking and swimming. These meaning full experiences at a younger age develop young peoples’ growth mindset and translates into real world experiences. Leadership through environmental stewardship can also support bigger change in how young people see themselves and others in the world. We can work to bring different cultural groups together to solve problems.

Earth Discovery, Institute Into the Outdoors

From majestic mountains to beautiful beaches, San Diego County is a recreational wonderland that people travel to from all over the globe to enjoy. Yet, there are local residents who go their entire lives without ever getting to experience these enchanting places, including many East County residents. Earth Discovery Institute (EDI) is on a mission to change that. Through the “Into the Outdoors” program, EDI eliminates barriers and opens doors to the outdoors for East County children and their families from under-resourced communities, providing immersive and impactful experiences so these families can engage with—and benefit from—nature.
The program will provide school field trips for East County Title I children to inland Crestridge Ecological Reserve and the coastal San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. During these trips, students will learn about their local ecosystem, participate in hands-on restoration, and engage in fun activities to spark their love of nature. Families of these students will also be provided with additional Family Day recreational excursions to breathtaking Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, so they can hike in one of San Diego’s most scenic coastal locations, and to Silver Strand State Beach, to enjoy a fun day of sun and sand! The program grants participants access to the physical and mental benefits of being outdoors, and is designed to foster a lifelong love of nature!

Exploring New Horizons Outdoor Schools, Outdoor Educational Equity at Pigeon Point

During the 2023-24 school year, Exploring New Horizons Outdoor Schools (ENH) is partnering with the Salinas City Elementary School District (SCESD), California State Parks, and San Mateo County Parks to engage over 500 students in free outdoor education at our Pigeon Point site. During 3-day overnight programs, groups of 25-40 students, their parents/guardians, and classroom teachers will explore the tidepools, coastal ecosystems, and the redwood forest. This project ensures that students experience a residential outdoor education program, which can lead to: (1) increased motivation and achievement in school; (2) greater self-esteem, attitudes of respect and responsibility; (3) better conflict resolution and problem-solving skills; and (4) decreased anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health conditions.

Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, Traveling Tataveaveat: Ternagava Naturalist Yu’pa’

The Education and Cultural Learning Department’s (ECLD) Traveling Tataveaveat: Terngava Naturalists Yu’pa’ (Traveling Tataviam Land: Summer Naturalists In the Wild) serves Native youth in grades 4-12 living in Los Angeles County. This program prioritizes supporting students in having access to cultural and natural resources, such as access to outdoor recreation, nature, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Participants will also have access to the Pacific Ocean, hikes, an overnight camping trip, and on-site education on the Los Angeles Aqueduct system throughout Owens Valley and the Mono Basin. These opportunities will lead to youth development skills in leadership, peer mentoring, and cultural identity.

Growers First Inc. Salton Sea Bird Migration Discovery Program for Youth

To help mitigate a lack of access to California State Parks, beaches, and waterways for the youth of our community, Growers First Inc. will hold a year-long program of once per week visits to the Salton Sea Recreation Area during the academic year for the purpose of training in bird watching and tracking bird migration patterns. The “Bird Watching and Bird Migration Tracking” Program will provide 42 youth between the ages of 7-18 with no previous knowledge about birds or the park with 52 weeks of visits to the Salton Sea Recreation area, an acclaimed location for bird migration. Tapping into a wide range of local experts such as Ornithologist Robert McKernan of the Oasis Bird Observatory, guest instructors teach hands-on Ornithology at the Salton Sea. Transportation provided by licensed commercial buses transporting the students from the Bombay Beach Arts and Culture Center to the Salton Sea Recreation Park. Instructors include certified Ornithologists, Teachers, and Social Workers.

Homeboy Industries, Homeboy Industries’ Outdoor Adventure Program

Homeboy will provide healing opportunities in nature for formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated adults and youth in California’s Sierra District. Through this program, community will spend time at Mammoth and Mono Lake engaging in outdoor activities such as kayaking, hiking, camping, and white-water rafting. Homeboy Industries intends to cultivate lifelong connections between our community and California’s parks and nature; foster a community of healing in the outdoors; dismantle systemically racist ideologies that prevent our community from enjoying California’s state parks; and eliminate barriers to accessing and enjoying state parks and nature by providing all essential items, transportation, gear, food, etc. Homeboy is committed to showing participants the world outside of their neighborhood by guiding them through outdoor excursions that will foster healthy and creative outlets that will stay with them and be taught by them to their future generations.

Latino Outdoors, Latino Outdoors Connecting Community to State Parks

Many Latine communities live within a few hours’ drive of some of our state’s most iconic parks, but often do not have the opportunity to visit. Latino Outdoors will connect Latine communities in Southern California, Northern California, and the Central Valley to a state park in their area and provide transportation, gear, food, and culturally responsive naturalist interpretation for three outdoor outings. Latino Outdoors plans to host a kayaking outing at Humboldt Lagoons State Park, a camping outing in conjunction with Fam Camp at San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area, and ride the tram up to explore Mount San Jacinto State Park. These programs are carried out by Latino Outdoor volunteer leaders who come from and live in the communities they serve making them culturally relatable outdoor role models for participants. The goal is to increase access and awareness of state parks as well as team leave-no-trace principles and basic camping skills.

Lowell Community Development Corporation, Lowell Wilderness Program

Lowell Community Development Corporation aims to improve the quality of life and create opportunities for families who live in the Lowell neighborhood. The Wilderness Program provides tools for families who experience barriers to accessing outdoor spaces, public lands, and parks. The Wilderness Program facilitates visits, transportation, education, and activities for families facing barriers such as socio-economic hardships, language inclusion, lack of transportation and outdoor knowledge. This program aims to equip families with tools, and build their capacity to access outdoor spaces with confidence and knowledge for a lifetime of adventure and exploring. Families will learn about resources, receive educational opportunities, and gain outdoor skills that lead to a sustainable connection with the outdoors and nature.

MeWater, MeWater Surf & Education Camps

Founded in 2015, MeWater Foundation provides free surf and education camps for under-resourced youth residing in trauma-impacted communities in San Francisco. MeWater’s mission is to provide multi-touch outdoor experiences at California State Parks and Beaches for underserved San Francisco Bay Area youth through its surf and outdoor education camps that educate, inspire, and empower youth through powerful outdoor experiences led by mental health professionals and outdoor enthusiasts. MeWater is rooted in the belief that mental and physical wellness leads to self-reliance, mindfulness, and confidence in children living in underrepresented communities. MeWater Foundation works to address trauma and stress in young people from backgrounds of poverty and violence by providing a different way of relating to the world and communities they live in, all through the power of nature and the ocean. MeWater connects vulnerable young people to positive community members and creates opportunities for youth to develop new skills, practice new coping mechanisms, and form positive, reciprocal relationships with trusted peers. In addition, MeWater focuses on building personal wellness and social responsibility and encourages stewardship of the environment via sports and educational programming in an outdoor therapeutic setting, creating meaningful connections with nature and community.

Oceano Community Services District, Field Trips to State Parks and Beaches

This project is a collaboration between the Oceano Community Services District (OCSD), Lucia Mar School District (LMUSD), Oceano Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization (OESPTO), and the Beaver Brigade of San Luis Obispo County. The project will provide funding for field trip transportation to State Parks and Beaches within fifty miles of their community for 1st to 6th grade students at Oceano Elementary School (OES), including inland dune lakes located at Oso Flaco State Park and Oceano State Park; La Purisima Mission, Hearst Castle; Morro Bay Natural History Museum; and the Butterfly Grove at Pismo State Park. All trips will be integrated with class material. Additionally, the San Luis Obispo Beaver Brigade will present twenty nature study workshops focused on coastal lake ecosystems. Four are specifically for physically disabled persons (wheelchair users) at Oceano State Park, where paved surfaces are available and accessible.

Orange County Coastkeeper, River KATS (Kid Activism Together with Science)

Through River KATS (Kids Activism Together with Science), middle to high school students from the Inland Empire will be introduced to their local natural areas through hands-on activities and field trips to connect youth with their local environment and inspire stewardship. During the school year, students from underrepresented communities will embark on a series of field trips exploring the Santa Ana River watershed from its upper reaches to the ocean. Our goal is to empower students that nature is theirs to explore, enjoy, and protect. Outdoor spaces have been made inaccessible to our target audience by our societal systems, including but not limited to transportation costs, time-consuming public transportation, the financial barrier created by the above, increasing urbanization, and additional parking or entrance fees. Providing our programming at no cost to schools alleviates the burdens that create these barriers so that all students have equal access to natural resources.

Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, Migrant Ed Spring Break with Watershed Guardians

This project is to bring the Watershed Guardians (WG) program to Migrant Education Program (MEP) students through the Monterey County Office of Education. Watershed Guardians is a community science program designed to enhance students’ sense of place in their local watershed, while building meaningful connections to nature. The Museum provides a 3-day bilingual spring break program for students to experience the outdoors while learning about the environmental health of the watershed and to build social and academic skills throughout the process. Students test their hypotheses in the Carmel River watershed and build a personal connection to two state beaches, a regional park, and the Museum.
This unique program brings MEP students from the southern inland portion of Monterey County to the museum, state, and regional parks at the coast annually during their spring break. Most MEP students have never visited the coast. During the program, students participate in the WG community science program and begin to understand and connect with the environment at coastal parks. Following their spring break field program, students can participate in the Museum’s annual bilingual Student Research Symposium.

Placer Sheriff’s Activities League, Placer SAL’s Adventures in Nature

Placer Sheriff’s Activities League (PSAL) is a non-profit organization focused on enriching the lives of underserved youth, from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, in Placer County. This project will afford PSAL the opportunity to provide access to, and adventures within, California State Parks for local youth. Through education, and practical application of learned skills, youth will develop self-sufficiency and increased esteem. Teaming up with State Parks Interpreters and programs like Littler Getters, while facilitating immersive experiences at local State Parks, will allow our youth to develop meaningful lifelong appreciation of the outdoors while inspiring stewardship for the land. Programming will include swim lessons, day hikes and trips to inland waterways for paddle boarding and kayaking, snowshoeing, and overnight camping trips.

Real Options for City Kids (R.O.C.K.), R.O.C.K. Outdoor Education & Recreation Program

In 2022, R.O.C.K. launched a full Outdoor Education and Recreation Program to break down the barriers that prevent students and families from connecting with nature. During the first year of this initiative, R.O.C.K. was able to expand the existing program elements that have been key to the organization since inception (overnight camping trips and outdoor adventures) and create a cohesive, year-round curriculum that enables us to keep students excited and engaged both in and out of the classroom.
R.O.C.K.’s Outdoor Education and Recreation Program targets students in grades K-8 through our Nature Scouts program, which meets at all three of our partner school sites three times per week, as well as middle school students through Student Adult Leadership Training (SALT), which meets on Saturdays. Additionally, R.O.C.K. offers overnight trips for students and families that take place on weekends and throughout the summer. The Outdoor Education and Recreation Program mirrors the model used by all R.O.C.K. programming as it is rooted in Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and has multiple touchpoints throughout the year.

Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Youth Environmental Justice

Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples’ Indigenous Youth Environmental Justice program (IYEJ) connects Indigenous youth with resources and opportunities as they relate to environmental justice while uplifting coastal issues through coastal visits in Orange and LA Counties including Crystal Cove State Park and the Aquarium of the Pacific. Coastal visits focus on conservation, restoration, and traditional ecological knowledge by building student relationships with traditional cultural practitioners, scholars, Native community leaders, environmental scientists, advocates for land/water conservation, as well as environmental justice and coastal access grassroots leaders. Central to the IYEJ program is supporting ongoing and renewed connection to tribal lands and waters by substantially increasing coastal and ocean water access for underserved youth and their families. By providing culturally relevant educational resources to students that support language revitalization and traditional ecological knowledge, we increase the hope participants have for their own futures while creating a culture in which the coast is accessible to tribal communities. Since 2013, IYEJ has served over 500 Indigenous youth with free coastal visits while raising awareness about the environmental justice concerns of Native Nations and issues impacting California’s coasts, estuaries, bays, and rivers.

San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority, Visit Allensworth by Amtrak San Joaquins – Discover Your California Heritage

This educational program seeks to improve travel accessibility to Allensworth Historic State Park for African Americans residing in the Bay Area and students in Fresno and Bakersfield by providing free tickets and meal vouchers and refreshments to African Americans who will be encouraged to join the annual Juneteenth celebration in 2024, and student and family Adventure Pass holders who will be encouraged to visit Allensworth from Fresno and Bakersfield. This program cultivates a tradition that is relevant, historical, and exciting and has the possibility of increasing the overall percentage of African Americans who go to California State Parks. Attracting Bay Area African American students, individuals, and families, in addition to youth from Fresno and Bakersfield, encourages increased awareness of an important piece of both African American and California history among youth and community members across the state.

San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation, Trust Youth Parkway Ambassadors (YPA) & Voyagers: Investigating Sierras, Trails and Seas (VISTAS) Programs

This project will expand San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust’s (Trust) Youth Parkway Ambassadors (YPA) and Voyagers: Investigating Sierras, Trails, and Seas (VISTAS) programs. YPA is an outdoor recreation and skills-building program serving high school aged students in Madera County. YPA connects participants to the San Joaquin River Parkway (Parkway) through a series of outdoor field trips, training on outdoor skills and leadership, an overnight camp out, and the planning and implementation of public open house events at Parkway properties. Participation in YPA builds awareness of existing public access points and recreational opportunities available along the Parkway, increases access to protected public lands, and empowers youth to become community leaders in advocating for projects and programs to create and protect the Parkway. VISTAS is an expansion of the YPA program that provides participants who have completed YPA with a comprehensive view of the San Joaquin River (SJR) Watershed through overnight camping trips to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and San Francisco Bay, as well as a 3-day program consisting of field trips and special presentations from organizations, individuals, and sites involved with the restoration of the SJR in the area. Funding will allow the Trust to expand the YPA and VISTAS programs, increase the number of participants, and run multiple cohorts of each program simultaneously over the course of the year.

Sierra State Parks Foundation, Snow Science and Adventure Program: Introducing Youth to the Sierra Snowpack

Did you know that a large population of school age children, that live within a 100-mile radius of the Sierra area State Parks have never had the opportunity to recreate in snow? These same students are not provided the opportunity to learn the relationship between the Sierra annual snow pack, forest health, water availability and climate change. The Snow Science and Adventure Program will introduce 4th-6th grade students to both the recreational benefits and fun aspects of the Sierra snowpack as well as the science behind the “white stuff.” This program will address the many barriers that prevent these experiences from occurring: transportation, equipment and knowledgeable program facilitators. It is the Foundation’s desire to make the critical connection between our public lands and the recreation opportunities available and the environmental significance they provide.
The focus will be inclusion of the local Tahoe-Truckee public schools and those in the Sierra Foothills, where the free lunch program is extended to over 70% of the student, as well as students and families of the Washoe Tribe, who are the original caretakers of the lands of the parks here. In addition, this grant will provide the capacity to offer similar programming to the general public to extend the message and impact.

Sonoma Ecology Center, Senderos Partnership with the Sonoma County Library

The Senderos Naturales program is Sonoma Ecology Center’s (SEC) answer to the need for access to green spaces for the Latino community in Sonoma County, which is estimated to be around 30% Latino. SEC recognizes that this particular population does not have the same advantages of access as do white or mostly-white households. Barriers of access to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park for the Latino community include lack of transportation, cost, language, and cultural relevance. SEC seeks to address these barriers by providing Latino-led, bilingual programming and outreach for the families of Sonoma Valley, the Roseland area of Santa Rosa, and other county areas with a dense Latino population, which typically score low in human development indexes.
The Senderos Naturales program focuses on educational and recreational nature programs for the Latino community. Family-oriented outings include hiking basics, beginner-friendly campouts, exploring the flora and fauna of the park, nature-related workshops, and stargazing events. These outings are advertised through our partnerships with family resource centers, community organizations, directly to previous program participants or publicized via social media. The Senderos Naturales program began in 2018 at Sugarloaf, and since its inception, has grown every year other than pandemic-related stagnation.

TreePeople, TreePeople Natural Connections for Kids: State Parks from Mountains to Sea

TreePeople will present a series of mountain-to-ocean-themed State Park field trips, providing 150 public school students from South Los Angeles with education on watershed cycles, ecosystem connectivity, and nature-based solutions. In each of three student groups, curriculum is designed to follow the natural path of water in the landscape – from local mountains, to freshwater bodies, ending at wetlands and the sea – with each student group receiving a total of three trips to State Parks, one for each landscape type. This program will allow students to observe first-hand the environmental features of each topography, and how those affect urgent issues in climate response, habitat restoration, and local conservation actions.
TreePeople seeks support for these school field trips, curricular supplies, and teacher stipends supporting educators’ preparatory time and materials in “Natural Connections for Kids: State Parks from Mountains to Sea.” This program series will employ fun, hands-on learning through NextGen Science Standards, augmenting environmental education equity at no cost for students of the historically underserved LA County community of Watts. TreePeople will also focus on watershed health on an ecosystem-wide scale and how this applies to students’ own communities, including strategies to engage youth in post-trip activities further supporting their neighborhoods, through at-home family action and volunteerism, building connections and stewardship within local watersheds.

Tuolumne River Preservation Trust, Explore Parks

Introducing “Explore Parks”: Empowering Modesto’s underserved communities by connecting them with nature. This special series of outdoor field trips is within Tuolumne River Preservation Trust’s (Trust) Tuolumne River Adventure Club program. The Trust’s mission is to bridge the gap between these communities and the natural world, promoting equity, inclusion, and environmental stewardship. The Trust believes that everyone deserves to experience the mental and physical wellness benefits that parks offer and by targeting underserved communities, they are committing to breaking down barriers that will continue for generations. Explore Parks provides guided trips to Central Valley state parks and recreation areas. Participants will experience the physical and mental benefits of nature firsthand. Outings will cover conservation topics, local ecosystems and relevant tribal history present in parks, empowering individuals with knowledge and inspire them to frequent our state parks and become environmental advocates. At the park, participants will have different modes of transportation such as canoes, bikes, and walking as ways to navigate themselves within the park. Explore Parks is an effort towards a more inclusive, informed and environmentally conscious community. Not only will this project improve people’s lives but also collectively nurture a healthier, happier, and greener Modesto.

Ventana Wildlife Society, Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences for Alternative Education Settings Ventana Wildlife Society increases access to parks, beaches, and waterways in Monterey County as they offer Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences for at-promise youth attending alternative education settings. Throughout the school year, the program is integrated into the school day, using outdoor settings as the classroom. First, partner teachers receive free professional development training, then instructors work alongside these educators during weekly classes and field excursions. To further remove barriers, partner teachers receive stipends to incentivize and reward their commitment and Ventana Wildlife Society provides any necessary transportation. The passionate instructors partner with the alternative education teachers to design learner-centered experiences that actively engage students in building knowledge and meaning through hands-on investigation of local environmental issues. As they do so, youth experience feelings of wellness and deep connection to the outdoors.

Waterside Workshops, Increasing Youth Access to Nature

By creating meaningful opportunities for young people to spend time in the natural world, Waterside Workshops aims to make the outdoors more accessible and inclusive as a way for youth to improve their wellbeing. This project will provide free day trips and overnight camping trips for 125 school-age and transition-age youth. Participants will engage in community building activities, hands-on educational lessons, and guided recreational experiences including mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, and swimming. Waterside will incorporate multimodal transportation, such as a combination of public transit and bike travel, exposing participants to new possibilities of traveling to state parks and allowing them to access California’s public lands independently in the future.

West Hills Community College District, CATCH (Creating Access To California’s Heritage)

Based in the Central Valley, West Hills Community College District’s (WHCCD) project engages the region’s underserved, underrepresented, multi-generational, and “park poor” families in outdoor education opportunities. The CATCH project will serve 60 participants across three trips offering deeper experiences to provide a unique, intensive, and immersive experience that will be the first of its kind in the state. This project raises awareness of California’s outdoor spaces and the human capital required to maintain them through the intersection of two key stakeholders: the California State Parks system and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
Participants will not only visit the state’s unique parks and wild areas, but they will also embark on their own Heritage Trout Challenge (HTC). Using the CDFW’s HTC model will inspire interest and engagement in California State Parks. Through leveraging state funds and partnerships, this project aims to travel to the far reaches of the State Park system to catch three trout (Coastal Rainbow, Coastal Cutthroat, and California Golden trout) toward a state-certified Heritage Trout certificate. A certificate is issued when an angler catches six of California’s 11 native trout species in heritage waters; this project provides the educational base, gets participants halfway to a certificate, and promotes future outdoor exploration.