Gabriela Contreras's picture
International Women's Day: Remembering Joie Armstrong
Gabriela Contreras
March 8, 2018 - 2:29pm
 
 
 
On International Women’s Day, we recognize the women who help make the world a better place. Those who inspire others to be courageous, to follow their hopes and dreams, to be brave in the face of adversity.
 
Changemakers don’t have to be big and loud. Sometimes, the memory of one person who cared enough to make a difference in the lives of her students can be multiplied tenfold. Such is the case of Joie Armstrong, a woman whose time on Earth was short, but her passion for connecting kids to nature has lived on since her passing 18 years ago.
 
Joie Armstrong, a NatureBridge educator at Yosemite National Park in 1999, was a bright light to all who knew her. She was full of laughter and love, creativity and spunk; she gifted the world with her glowing smile and warm heart. 
 
 
She is remembered as a young woman who had a tremendous enthusiasm for life and a deep desire to give of herself for the betterment of the world around her. It was this desire to create a more idyllic world that inspired her decision to become an environmental science educator for what was formerly known as Yosemite Institute. 
 
As Joie once said, "My passion lies with teaching children about their environment, and I have dedicated all of my efforts toward it." 
 
Although her time as a NatureBridge educator was tragically cut short, her family chose to honor her legacy by finding a way to motivate other young women to be as brave, courageous, and tenacious as Joie was in life. 
 
That is how the Armstrong Scholars Program was born.
 
Each year, thirteen girls aged 15-18 are selected to participate in an empowering summer backpacking adventure in the High Sierra of Yosemite National Park. The program inspires young women to reach their highest potential, develop a stronger sense of self and community, and explore their personal connection to nature.
 
 
This summer will mark the 19th season of Armstrong Scholars.
 
19 years that serve as a testament of how the loss of one life can help impact dozens more. There is beauty in finding hope for the future in moments of tragedy and loss. It takes strength to transform the ugliness in our world into something so pure and selfless. 
 
We can only do so much to describe what the Armstrong Scholars Program means to us, to our educators, and to the amazing young women who are impacted by the journey. Our own Armstrong Scholars say it best:
 
“The mountains sang to me this morning.
I’ve never heard anything so beautiful.
It’s hard for me to understand how something can have so much power and be seen by others as silent.
I didn’t know the wild lilies laughed so hard at the wind’s jokes,
Or that when you whistle, the boulders will hum back.
There is so much in this world we cannot see until we stop looking for it.
I would like to call this overwhelming; I’ve never heard anything so loud and clear before.
However, their songs have always been there.
I just finally decided to listen.”
 
—Lilly, 2016 Armstrong Scholar
 
View the photo gallery of our Armstrong Scholars over the years, who have undoubtedly gone on to become strong and confident, and most importantly, to GULP LIFE—just as Joie would have wanted.
 
 
You can support the program by donating to NatureBridge and designating Armstrong Scholars program in the notes section. 
 
Applications are now open for the 2018 Armstrong Scholars Program. Learn more at naturebridge.org/armstrong.