- Who We Are
- What We Do
- Who We Work With
- Our Stories
- Training and Consulting
- News and Events
- Activities, Toolkits and Reports
- Online Communities
- Current Initiatives
- Contact Us
Outdoor Leadership in Redwood City, California
Submitted by Wendy Wheeler on Thu, 01/28/2010 - 14:39.
San Mateo County, located on the San Francisco Bay Peninsula, is a nature lover’s paradise. With ocean, mountains, forest, and national parks all within a day’s drive – and northern California’s storied weather to boot – it seems that county residents would be spending more time outdoors than in. Nevertheless, obstacles – some expected, others unexpected – often keep these Californians, especially youth, indoors. A group of young people from Redwood City, California are working to find out why, exploring their own community’s natural resources and sharing them with their friends and family in the process.
“Being, playing, and enjoying the outdoors is beneficial to our physical and emotional, health,” Redwood City Environmental Initiatives Manager Beth Ross said. “We’re looking to get young people engaged in the outdoors to the benefit of their personal well-being.”
It was with this philosophy that Redwood City launched it’s YO! (Youth Outdoors!) programming just two weeks ago. With funding from the Stewardship Council, a private, nonprofit foundation established in 2004 as a part of a Pacific Gas and Electric Company settlement, the Redwood City city government has teamed up with local high schools and environmental education nonprofits to engage local teens in indentifying and addressing barriers keeping youth from the outdoors.
The 15 students participating in this semester-long internship are working with a teacher from a local nonprofit, Hidden Villa, as well as a team of adult allies to experience for themselves the outdoor, natural resources their community has to offer. Their first program activity, a retreat at Elkus Ranch, an environmental education center associated with the University of California, brought participants together in a local outdoor space to begin thinking about the barriers to getting outdoors. Though the project is fully underway, it is yet a month old. Youth haven’t had ample opportunity to explore and identify a full list of barriers, as well as means to addressing these obstacles. However, after the first team meeting, both safety and transportation present as primary obstacles.
Though much of YO!’s project work will occur outside, YO! youth participants and adults are approaching the outdoors not just as a setting for the program, but as an opportunity for unique learning and leading. Their semester’s work is, in part, “an extended research project,” Ms. Ross explained. “The youth are engaged in an intensive research effort from now until May. They’re working to answer the question, ‘Based on what we’re learning, what might this program look like in future years?’” Furthermore, YO! participants will determine where they’d like to go over the course of the program, as well as what they’ll do once there, fieldtrip logistics that require knowledge of the community’s vast environmental resources.
“My hope,” Ms. Ross said, “is that by starting with this group of 13, they find or create an amazing, outdoor space in the community and that they start bringing their siblings, their parents, their friends. I’d really like to see this have a ripple effect.”
Learn more about Redwood City, California.