National Environmental Science Center at Yosemite



An interactive National Environmental Science Center Project webpage will launch in late-Fall. Stay tuned!



A National Home for Environmental Education 

 Our national parks are tremendous educational assets that bring learning to life. They inspire conservation and historic preservation at all levels of society, delivering a message to future generations about our cultural and natural heritage. At NatureBridge, we believe environmental education should be a part of every child's life. We need to do more to prepare our young people to address the environmental challenges we face today and for success in the workforce and the economy of tomorrow. 

NatureBridge recognizes that now is the time to engage our youth in conservation, exploration, and field science research at a new level. Our national parks are majestic classrooms of living research and science, where young minds are challenged to explore, learn, and become the next generation of conservationists. Join NatureBridge as we promote Next Generation Science Standards, field science research, national dialogue, and exploration at the National Environmental Science Center at Henness Ridge in Yosemite National Park, California. 

Construction is underway. Our goal is to complete the next phase of construction and begin programs in celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016. NatureBridge has raised $18.1 million toward our opening phase goal of $22.1 million. 


A Vision for the Future of National Parks 

Urgent Need for Youth Environmental Literacy 

Science education for future generations is critical to addressing environmental challenges and succeeding in the workforce and economy of tomorrow. However, only 21% of the nation's 12th-grade students are proficient in science, according to a 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. 

A recent report from the National Research Council, Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits, concluded, "There is mounting evidence that structured, non-school science programs can feed or stimulate academic achievement for students, and may expand participants' sense of future science career options."

Over the past several years, NatureBridge has built upon its long history of successful program delivery by serving as a national convener of environmental education. To prepare future generations of national park stewards, the National Environmental Science Center will provide the physical space to showcase NatureBridge's cutting-edge programs—to continue advancing our evidence-based Core Educational Framework, and integrate research-to-practice in environmental education for parks and schools across the nation. This visionary facility will serve as a laboratory for modeling best practices in the field of environmental education regionally and nationally, and promote creative innovation by serving as a space to convene thought leaders.

Our goal is to provide a permanent, sustainable home for environmental education programs that will improve and enhance educational opportunities for young people across the nation. 


By the Numbers


National Environmental Science Center Objectives

Objective 1

Preserve, protect, rehabilitate, and enhance the natural character and cultural resources of the site for optimal learning.

Objective 2

Ensure that every part of the new campus demonstrates sustainability and teaches students how to live every day as stewards.

Objective 3

Create a campus that is a teaching tool with instructional technology that supports excellence in science and caters to the learning styles and abilities of every student.

Objective 4

Integrate the indoor and outdoor spaces to immerse students in the local environment with minimal ecological impact. 

Objective 5

Serve more schools from underserved communities to give all students the measurable benefit of residential, experiential science education and greater access to science-related academic, career, and recreational opportunities.


National Park Service Centennial Celebration

The current political support and visibility created by the National Park Service Centennial in 2016 will create a tremendous opportunity for the national park education community to come together and showcase learning that motivates and inspires youth, while at the same time ensuring that national parks remain relevant in their second century and are supported by a broad base of informed communities and stewards. NatureBridge is working with the National Park Service to craft an implementation plan for education in the national parks for their second century and beyond. 

Now is the time to gather supporters of environmental science education, field science research involving youth, and programs that promote conservation, preservation, and stewardship. NatureBridge, through more than 40 years of teaching environmental field science, has developed well established and effective partnerships with government, educators, researchers, and institutions. NatureBridge is well prepared and well positioned to lead the Center and its outreach to the nation. 

By creating a physical manifestation of the connection between parks, education, and engagement of youth, the National Environmental Science Center provides a big step toward realizing the National Park Service's second century mission. 


Sustainability Features

The National Environmental Science Center will integrate the latest green design and energy concepts with the site's inherent attributes to provide an interactive model of sustainability in which program participants can engage firsthand as part of the environmental education curriculum. 

Extensive energy modeling and analysis of the materials and assemblies led to a campus that is projected to be net-zero energy and to save sixty percent over standard water use. The project is seeking a LEED Gold rating. 

1. Highly insulated and air-tight building envelopes and abundant daylighting reduce the need for energy use in buildings.

2. Elimination of fossil fuel use except for cooking and emergency power generation. 

3. Use of local materials, including the use of Incense Cedar for wood siding, the same species of trees grown on the site. 

4. On-site photovoltaics for a renewable energy resource. 

5. Bio-gas recovery system, an additional renewable energy resource to heat water. 

6. Ground source heat pump wells for building heating, domestic water heating, and cold storage refrigeration. 

7. Water comes from and returns to the local watershed, and on-site use is reduced by 60%. 

8. Greywater harvesting system collects water for use in flushing toilets. 

9. Durable materials for longevity and limited maintenance. 

10. Triple-glazed windows for additional energy reduction in the buildings.


Inspiring Generations of National Park Enthusiasts

Investing in the Future of National Park Environmental Education 

The National Environmental Science Center will serve as a resource for field science and environmental education for the nation's youth, teachers, educators, and researchers. The Center will continuously contribute towards the improvement of field science environmental programs within our national parks. 

The National Environmental Science Center will serve as a laboratory for modeling best practices in the field of environmental education, shine as a beacon for excellence regionally and nationally, and promote creative innovation as an ideal venue to convene thought leaders. Most importantly, it will serve as a life-changing classroom to educate the next generation of stewards of our planet. 

The Center's premier green design and sustainable construction practices exemplify the conservation principles that all of NatureBridge's programs promote. Designed in collaboration between NatureBridge and the National Park Service, the Center will serve as a model for others in the fields of architecture and construction, to respect wildlife, habitat, and the environment. 

To support the National Environmental Science Center, contact Kristina Rylands at