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History & Mission

About Us

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, and nearly five decades of overnight environmental education in our national parks. 

The largest non-profit educational partner of the National Park Service, NatureBridge today serves over 35,000 students and 700 schools each year in national parks across the country: Yosemite National Park and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California; Olympic National Park in Washington; and Prince William Forest Park in Virginia.

Our mission is to connect young people to the wonder and science of the natural world, igniting self-discovery and inspiring stewardship of our planet. Since our inception, we’ve provided life-changing experiences for more than one million students. We award $1.2 million in scholarship support each year to almost 50 percent of participating schools.

NatureBridge

Through the Decades

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Welcome to Nature's

Classroom

Welcome to NatureBridge

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Our

Core Values

We bring our best self. We express excellence and creativity in all that we do and we trust that our colleagues are bringing their best too.

We learn, teach and grow. Our most effective teaching comes from our desire to discover what we have not yet seen and for each of us to develop our own capacity to do what we are here to do.

We are inclusive. We create an equitable, welcoming and empowering learning and working environment for all people.

We build open and honest relationships.  We communicate care for each other, seek collaborative solutions and address issues that might otherwise inhibit the atmosphere and effectiveness of our work together.

We inspire awe in the beauty of life.  Through the splendor of the natural world, we create “wow” moments that evoke joy, openness and connection.

We practice environmental stewardship.  We exemplify sustainable behavior by minimizing negative footprint and maximizing positive benefit in what we use, discard and the activities we do.

We are accountable.  By making clear agreements and setting attainable goals, we rely on our colleagues to do what they say they will do or speak up if an agreement or goal needs to be changed.

Read our

Stories from the Field

We’re building the stewards of tomorrow, today.