A grand, homely incense cedar tree stands heartily in view from our office windows at the Sierra Institute in Taylorsville, Ca. It’s cheerful, yes, and indeed charming, but as it steadfastly towers over us through winter after winter and decade after decade its longevity stands most visible. The cedar, like the 4-million-year-old mountain range it rests on, lends powerful temporal perspective to the casual oscillations of mood and productivity through our workday. They dare us to remember the world that existed before us and that which will succeed us. They ask, what are we if not the foundation on which the future will lay?
This month, March 2017, our spotlight blog will direct our eyes to the future we build by examining our array of Youth Programming.
We at the Sierra Institute work diligently as a resource to empower youth in the local region and beyond, because we firmly believe that the development of young stewards will lead to a brighter future. Our enthusiastic Youth Programming staff explores three key programming avenues to achieve this end: Recreation, Environmental Education, and Career Development.
At present, these avenues intersect as a variety of meaningful and expanding projects. Friday Night for Teens and Greenville Outdoor Adventure Learning (GOAL) anchor our recreation-focused programming and are headed by Amy Hafsrud and Ashley Bomar, respectively. These programs provide safe, drug-free environments for teenagers to enjoy each other’s company both indoors and on outdoor adventures.
Plumas Conservation, Restoration, and Education in Watersheds (P-CREW), jointly coordinated by Ashley Bomar and Amy Hafsrud, has combined career development, environmental education, and recreation for participating high school students since 2015. P-CREW is a paid summer youth conservation core bringing local and non-local students together to learn new skills as they live, work, and play in Plumas and Lassen National Forests.
Natural Resource Education programming, led by Courtney Gomola and myself, works directly with schools to create, motivate, and empower young stewards through environmental education. We are working to rebuild relationship to place by showing the ecological, economic, and systemic connections people have to natural resources. Less abstractly, this means a mentorship program that emphasizes open ended inquiry and practical problem solving for the upcoming Greenville Junior/Senior High (GHS) School Science Fair. It also means working with Agriculture/Gardening classes and interns to propagate native plants for restoration work in burned areas of Plumas National Forest, and other fieldwork at permanent monitoring plots.
Our most exciting Natural Resource Education project to, in my eyes, is the Institute Series. The weeklong project based learning educational models that we’ve developed and begun to implement with local schools lay the groundwork for a 21st century natural resource educational curriculum. In January of this year, the pioneer Fire Institute blazed through GHS and Indian Valley Academy (IVA) to have the entire student body engage critically with the idea of fire’s impact on social, cultural, physical landscapes. Following this initial Institute, Courtney and I have worked to construct a wholly replicable Institute Model to motivate young stewards with other Institutes in Indian Valley and beyond.
At my desk, my gaze alternates between the computer and the window—between Natural Resource Education programming and the friendly cedar outdoors. At my desk, my gaze rests in two directions but I only see one thing: the future.
Check back in on the SI Blog in your future! Next week we’ll to the great outdoors with Ashley Bomar to learn more about the GOAL program.
Written by: Luis Mayberry for Project Spotlight March 2017