Stories from the Field

Board Spotlight: Kimberly McMorrow

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For board member Kimberly McMorrow, her journey with NatureBridge has truly come full circle. Kimberly was first introduced to the organization in 1972, during a NatureBridge environmental science program in Yosemite National Park.

Never having camped before, Kimberly spent five days at Curry Village with NatureBridge and her eighth grade classmates. Their program fell on Earth Day that year, making the trip even more memorable. Laughing, Kimberly recalled taking part in the NatureBridge program without hiking boots or even sneakers—conquering the challenge hike up Mist Trail to Nevada Falls in her saddle shoes!

“The NatureBridge experience was the beginning of my love for the outdoors,” said Kimberly.

Since then, Kimberly has returned to NatureBridge's Yosemite campus, as a parent chaperone on her own child's NatureBridge program. All three of her children have participated in NatureBridge programs, which gave Kimberly the opportunity to visit our other campuses over the years, including Golden Gate and Southern California. Today, she is one of NatureBridge's newest board members.

I feel so fortunate, I’ve experienced NatureBridge as not only a participant, but as a parent as well. So it’s very exciting for me to now be in this new role to support and contribute to NatureBridge’s mission.
Kimberly McMorrow

During college she had more opportunity for outdoor exploration. Spending a summer camping and backpacking in Sun Valley, Idaho, and then a winter cross country skiing in Colorado, she continued to gain a stronger connection to and appreciation for the outdoor world.

A NatureBridge alum, Kimberly has remained close to nature since that first Yosemite trip and has dedicated much time connecting youth to the outdoors. Nearly 15 years ago, she started an outdoor environmental education program at Eastside College Preparatory School in Palo Alto, California. Eastside, “committed to opening new doors for students historically underrepresented in higher education,” empowers students by helping them pave the way to be among the first in their families to attend college.

For years, Kimberly volunteered with the Middle School Reading Program at Eastside. In 2005, she recognized another area where she could lend her time and expertise—she saw the need for an outdoor education program. Recognizing that the population of students didn’t necessarily have positive experiences with the outdoors, she wanted to create an opportunity to change that and connect students with the wonder of nature.

The outdoor program at Eastside provides students with the opportunity to explore places like Lake Tahoe, Point Reyes, Big Sur, the Santa Cruz Mountains and even urban green spaces like the Presidio in San Francisco. Students hike, backpack, rock climb, raft, ski and explore the local ecology of the region, while simultaneously gaining leadership skills and new friendships.

“There are so many great challenges and team building opportunities when you’re out in nature,” she said. “So many students have never hiked on a dirt trail. Then, they come on these trips and they’ll climb a peak that’s 9,000 feet and although they never thought they could do it, they do.  And they’re so excited and beaming with pride.”

Outdoor adventures in nature provide incredible challenges that help build self-esteem and self-confidence in young people, which is why connecting them with the outdoors is so important.

Kimberly McMorrow

For Kimberly, connecting young people to the natural world is important for three reasons. First, it gives them the opportunity to disconnect from technology and connect with one another on a deeper level. Second, it builds self-esteem and self-confidence. And lastly, she believes that taking care of our environment begins with fostering a love for the outdoors.

“Students who spend time in nature learn how important it is,” she said. “They respect it and they want to protect it. They then become better environmental stewards for the future.” 

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