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Meet our Beneficiary

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Fleet Feet understands the profound impact of spending time outdoors. Whether you’re running through your neighborhood, climbing El Capitan, or sitting on your balcony watching the stars, being outside ignites discovery and inspires wonder.

The sole beneficiary for the Yosemite Challenge is NatureBridge, an overnight, environmental science program that takes youth out of the classroom and into the National Parks. For 50 years, NatureBridge has been bringing students from around the country to national parks to engage in scientific principles firsthand, explore ecological concepts and think critically, all while discovering the joy of the outdoors. NatureBridge’s continued commitment to equity and inclusion has helped more than 1.5 million students of all backgrounds to take part in its environmental science programs and experience the wonder of nature.

50TH ANNIVERSARY

In 1971, a high school teacher named Don Rees assembled a group of 50 high school students in Yosemite for a week-long adventure. That trip inspired the founding of NatureBridge, formerly Yosemite Institute.

Over 30% of nonprofit organizations fail to exist within 10 years of their founding. They are derailed by leadership issues, strategic misfires, and crises outside their control. To successfully bring environmental education to students for 50 years, NatureBridge had to withstand its own tribulations: sudden national park closures from government shutdowns, wildfires, and most recently of course, the COVID-19 pandemic and its numerous impacts.

At every challenging moment, NatureBridge has met the moment, whether it was delivering virtual programs during quarantine or keeping students safe during a hantavirus outbreak in Yosemite. NatureBridge continues to expand and grow from its humble beginnings as a national park field trip, and while the fact that the organization is celebrating its 50th anniversary is remarkable, it is the next 50 years that remain NatureBridge’s true focus.

ABOUT NATUREBRIDGE PROGRAMS

NatureBridge provides environmental science programs in the world’s best classrooms—our national parks. Pre-pandemic, more than 700 schools and 35,000 students visited its four national park locations each year (Yosemite, Golden Gate, Olympic and Prince William). In 50 years of teaching and inspiring students, NatureBridge has provided life-changing experiences for more than 1.5 million participants and is a national leader in the field of environmental education.

In addition to providing environmental science programs, each campus hosts a number of programs for students from kindergarten through 12th grade with different focuses, including leadership development, personal growth and connecting with family. A few include: Coastal Camp, a summer day camp in Golden Gate; summer backpacking trips through Yosemite and Olympic’s backcountry; and our Educator Development Program, a multi-week, paid program for educators seeking to increase their experience with outdoor teaching and risk management in Prince William Forest. In 2020, NatureBridge launched their Distance Learning programming to accommodate the growing demand for engaging, virtual education.

To learn more about all of NatureBridge’s programs, click here.

 

NatureBridge at Yosemite National Park

In the heart of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite National Park is home to the flagship campus of NatureBridge. The Yosemite campus has inspired and welcomed tens of thousands of students, teachers and educators for 50 years. Here students hike through the dramatic landscapes, explore ancient giant sequoias, ski across snowy meadows and challenge themselves to grow as individuals and stewards of the planet.

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NatureBridge Yosemite National Park

NatureBridge at Olympic National Park

Boasting three distinct ecosystems—alpine ridges, temperate rainforest and rugged coastline—Olympic National Park is a NatureBridge classroom filled with opportunity for exploration and discovery. Since the campus opened on the shore of the glacially-carved Lake Crescent in 1988, thousands of students have learned from and connected with Olympic’s awe-inspiring landscape. 

NatureBridge at Olympic National Park

NatureBridge at Golden Gate

Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area sits historic Coastal Miwok land and modern day Marin Headlands. NatureBridge’s historic World War II military campus is surrounded by miles of trails along unique rock formations with scenic views of the beach and coastline. Here students study environmental science, families come together to connect with the natural world and in the summer the local kids explore the wonders of their own backyard.

NatureBridge at Golden Gate

NatureBridge at Prince William Forest

In 2012, NatureBridge opened its first east coast campus at Prince William Forest Park, the largest green space in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Since then, NatureBridge has provided thousands of D.C. youth the opportunity to discover the wonder of the natural world, just 35 miles from the city. 

As a result of NatureBridge’s efforts to increase access and create an inclusive, culturally relevant experience for all participants, it offers scholarship assistance to almost all students who come through the Prince William programs.  

NatureBridge at Prince William Forest

Yosemite National Park Challenge
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