Net Positive for Conservation
The core values of Wilderness Adventures are Community, Leadership, and the Natural World. Building community, striving for leadership, and preserving our natural world. Our programs thrive on the outdoors – whether our students are on a domestic wilderness trip backpacking through the Wind River Range of Wyoming, or they are traveling abroad and experiencing the various cultures of places as far away as Tanzania or Australia. Our time is spent outside. That’s the whole point – getting kids outdoors, out of the traditional classroom setting during the summer, and learning to appreciate themselves and the world around them.
This Earth Day, 2019, we want to highlight why our program is net positive for conservation. Today is about celebrating Earth, and yet we make a point to do just that on each and every one of our programs. Our students are exposed to the majesty of our wild spaces and they learn to appreciate the beauty of our planet. The Wilderness Adventures experience acts as a catalyst for students to become advocates for our planet and its preservation.
Environmental Service Work
We engage our students in meaningful work experiences within national parks, forests, and other service oriented organizations. Our Fly Fishing programs visit local fish hatcheries and learn of their work in mitigating fish populations and water development projects. Our Yellowstone Teton Service and WALI programs work alongside rangers in Bridger Teton Wilderness and Grand Teton National Park to build new trails responsibly by cutting back brush from trail corridors, installing culverts in wet areas, and filling areas of erosion with rock, gravel, or dirt. Meanwhile in Hawaii, our students work with Kokee State Park rangers to help maintain watershed areas and eradicating invasive plants. In Costa Rica and Ecuador, students engage with projects aiming to protect turtle populations through habitat restoration and data collection. The list goes on and the experiences are impactful. Students develop an ethic of environmental stewardship and civic responsibility in working alongside these hardworking professionals.
Our Regional Directors perfect our programs throughout the year and develop trip-specific curriculum in doing so. They provide our leaders with a number of resources that help them educate each and every student about the area(s) in which they will explore, and the skills/lessons they can take away from the experience. The WA Trail Map is a trip-specific guide to achieving hard and soft skills relevant to the area they are exploring, in addition to an overview of the area’s flora and fauna. There is the WA book box, a traveling companion of local resources, field guides, relevant poetry, fiction, and folklore compiled to tell a bigger story than what’s immediately in front of the group about where they are and why these areas matter. Our leaders educate our students on the seven principles of Leave No Trace. They learn to leave campgrounds and trailheads better than when they found them. Students learn to recognize the importance of water sources, methods of preserving existing trails, and how to be responsible outdoor enthusiasts.
Our kids explore green forests and caves; they splash through streams and are enveloped with places rich in life – from insects to fungi, birds, bears, and more. A Wilderness Adventures experience cultivates curiosity and wonder as our kids adventure through our beautiful wild spaces. They become attached to the fun and to the beauty of where they went, and they return home with a newfound appreciation for what is outside. That subtle appreciation translates into future action for the conservation of our planet.
Happy Earth Day to the one and only Earth we’ve got. As always, we’re looking forward to summer and the learning, growth, and inspiration that our students will experience in the great outdoors come June.