Stories from the Field

Making Waves at An Evening Outside with NatureBridge

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On May 16, we hosted our annual fundraising event, An Evening Outside with NatureBridge, at our Golden Gate campus. In classic Bay Area fashion, the fog and mist arrived as unexpected guests, but the weather did not deter us from celebrating a momentous occasion for NatureBridge: for the first time ever at this event, we raised over one million dollars, which will directly support our students, our campuses, and our staff.

The evening began with a bustling cocktail and activity hour that showcased our beautiful Golden Gate campus and the inspiring work our environmental science educators do every day. Guests visited our Intertidal Lab and Skins and Skulls Lab, participated in team-building activities, and chatted with our staff about the impact NatureBridge programs have on young people.

Two NatureBridge educators standing behind a wooden picnic table covered with learning materials

Gathering for dinner in our luxe, hilltop tent, guests mingled and enjoyed a delicious meal amid the live music of a jazz trio from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the breathtaking backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. The evening's program included messages from emcee DawnMarie Kotsonis, Yosemite Regional Director Corinne Dedini, Golden Gate Campus Director PaHoua Lee, and NatureBridge President and CEO Phil Kilbridge. Each speaker in turn illustrated how NatureBridge programs have played a role in the development of thousands of young people, unlocking students' love for nature and facilitating meaningful connections to the people and world around them.

We were awe-inspired by our Student of the Year, Kai Diaz, who shared how they felt as though they could touch the stars during their trip to NatureBridge in Yosemite. Kai's experience led them to the decision to pursue a career in outdoor education and outreach; they are currently working as a seasonal park aide at Colonel Allensworth State Park, and they hope to serve as an interpretive ranger at additional parks in the future.

Being in Yosemite solidified my decision for my future career path... I wish to inspire, teach, and instill the love and care I have for the great outdoors on to future generations.
Kai Diaz, 2024 Student of the Year

Our featured speaker Dr. Britt Wray shared incredible insights from her research on the intersection of mental health and the climate crisis. Dr. Wray lauded the curiosity, hope, and passion that NatureBridge inspires in students, and she emphasized how young people can influence the hearts and minds of their families when they bring the lessons of NatureBridge home with them.

The gathered guests, donors, and sponsors took Kai's and Dr. Wray's words to heart and declared their support of NatureBridge with a rousing auction and raise the paddle fundraiser. Altogether, we raised a record-breaking $1.17 million in donations!

We’d like to express our gratitude to everyone who made this evening such a success: our regional and national board members, our event planning committee, our staff and environmental educators, our student alumni and their families and teachers, our sponsors, and our guests. Thank you, and we hope to see you at our next event!

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