Kids in Olympic
Explore the Wonder & Science of Nature

Alcoa Scholars

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The Alcoa Scholars program is a unique opportunity for 59 high school students from diverse backgrounds and nationalities to learn and grow in two of the United States’ most beautiful protected lands: Yosemite and Olympic National Parks. This two-week program is designed to develop future environmental leaders as it takes students on a challenging physical and academic journey into spectacular wilderness. Scholars participate in a multi-day backpacking adventure, conduct hands-on science projects, help take care of the national park through a service project and explore environmental issues from a global perspective.

Supported by a new group of friends from around the world, Scholars return home with a deeper connection to the environment, empowered to make a difference in their home communities.

This program is free, including necessary travel expenses, thanks to a generous grant from Alcoa Foundation. 

2019 NatureBridge Alcoa Scholars

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Eligibility & Requirements

To be considered, each student must:

  • Be from a community in which Alcoa operates. To view Alcoa's locations worldwide, click here.
  • Be a high school student between 16–18 years old on the first day of the program.
  • English proficiency required. Application and program delivered in English.
  • Submit a complete application packet.

If accepted, each Scholar will:

  • Pay a fully refundable $100 deposit.
  • Read four pre-trip readings.
  • Prepare and present a culture share (short presentation about who you are and where you are from).
  • Design and implement a science investigation and share the results in a short presentation.
  • Create a post-trip project that shares what you learned from the program.
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The Yosemite Experience

In the heart of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite National Park is home to some of the world’s most striking and iconic views. Towering granite domes, gushing waterfalls and diverse habitats provide the perfect setting for hands-on environmental science education.

The Alcoa Scholars experience in Yosemite National Park includes:

  • Trail groups consisting of 11 students and two educators
  • Six-day backpacking program in the Yosemite wilderness
  • Stewardship project in Yosemite Valley
  • Science presentations

2020 Yosemite Program Dates:
August 2–15, 2020

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The Olympic Experience

Home to alpine ridges, temperate rainforest, and rugged coastline, Olympic National Park boasts three stunning, distinct ecosystems. Amidst it all, the NatureBridge campus sits on the shore of glacially-carved Lake Crescent. Trails lead from the steps of our historic cabins to lush, old growth forest and salmon-filled waterways.

The Alcoa Scholars experience in Olympic National Park includes:

  • Trail groups consisting of 10 students and two educators
  • Week-long backpacking program in the Olympic wilderness
  • Stewardship project in the park
  • Science presentations

2020 Olympic Program Dates:
Session 1: July 5–17, 2020
Session 2: July 19–31, 2020

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How to


Thank you for your interest in the NatureBridge Alcoa Scholars program!

A complete application consists of:

Applications are due on March 3, 2020. All four forms must be submitted for an applicant to be considered.

Important: If accepted into the program, students will need to provide a NatureBridge Medical Exam that has been completed by a doctor within two weeks of acceptance (by April 17). Early medical exams are accepted. If you choose to wait to get a medical exam, please be sure to still schedule it now. Applicants will not be fully accepted into the program until the NatureBridge medical exam is reviewed and approved by NatureBridge staff; those who are given preliminary acceptance but have not submitted their NatureBridge medical exam by April 17th will forfeit their position in the program.

You will encounter challenges which make you a better person, you will meet people who inspire you and you will find something bigger than what you were searching for. You will realize how great life is, how many opportunities you have and how thankful you are. You will need less and will want to give more.
Özíke, Hungary
See examples of our

2019 Post Trip Projects

Group photo of Yosemite Alcoa Scholars with Half Dome in background

Will G., Pennsylvania, United States

Will participated in the 2019 Alcoa Scholars program in Yosemite and wrote an essay about his experience.

Group photo of Olympic Scholars wearing Alcoa Foundation tshirts

Hlynur K., Iceland

Hlynur participated in the 2019 Olympic Scholars: Session 1 program and created a webpage about his experience.

Olympic Alcoa Scholars group photo in front of a massive tree root

Georgia R., Australia

Georgia participated in the 2019 Olympic Scholars: Session 1 program and created a video about her experience.

Olympic Alcoa Scholars group photo in front of Lake Crescent

Abby B., Pennsylvania, United States

Abby participated in the 2019 Alcoa Scholars program in Olympic and wrote an essay about her experience.

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How to

Contact Us

Phone: +1 415-598-9832