Promoting environmental education and conservation for Tulare County youth

This year, Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) Adriana Becerra has been working with Sequoia Riverlands Trust (SRT) as an Education Technician. Adriana assists with education programs to increase public interest in and understanding of the Central San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra Nevada foothill regions and to inspire learners to become lifelong stewards and protectors of the land. She helps coordinate and lead field trip activities at SRT’s nature preserves and supports other educational programs.

Recently in her term, Adriana has been helping run SRT’s EARTH Academy Summer Program. Serving students aged 15-20 years old, the program aims to promote environmental education in underserved communities in Tulare County. Adriana works alongside the rest of the education team, including another SNAP member, James Von Tersch, and her supervisors, Sneha Kumar, Sam Weiser, and Bud Darwin.

EARTH Academy participants on an interpretive hike at Blue Oak Ranch Preserve led by James Von Tersch.

From June 13-30, SRT takes EARTH Academy students to its local nature preserves and leads educational activities to foster love and appreciation for the outdoors. At the end of the week, SRT takes the students up to spend a day at the YMCA Camp Sequoia Lake to explore and recreate in the Sierra Nevada. The program educates local youth about the importance of their preserves and natural spaces so they can continue protecting them for future generations.

EARTH Academy programs are tailored specifically for students in Tulare County and focus on environmental issues that are relevant to the area. On field trips, students have the opportunity to work side by side with professionals in the region in various disciplines. Students learn firsthand by collecting data, exploring and working with the land, and learning some of the skills needed for employment in fields such as agriculture, ranching, science, education, and more.

EARTH Academy students boating at Sequoia Lake.

SRT’s mission is to preserve the natural agricultural legacy of the Southern Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley. By allowing access to their preserves, they’re able to educate the communities in the central valley to help with their goal of conserving the lands and waters of California’s heartland. Inspiring and educating young people in the region is just one method SRT uses to promote conservation practices.

Taking care of the Sierra Nevada region is important to Adriana and SRT because it’s such a vital water source for wildlife, plant and animal habitats, and the many surrounding communities. She looks forward to continuing her Sierra-saving work in her final months as a SNAP member.

EARTH Academy students exploring the Native Plant Nursery at Dry Creek Preserve.

Funding for SNAP is supported by Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s Nature Fund and Martis Fund – a collaborative project of Martis Camp landowners, DMB/Highlands Group (the developers of Martis Camp), Mountain Area Preservation Foundation (MAP), and Sierra Watch. Sierra Nevada Alliance is a proud grantee of AmeriCorps and California Volunteers, Office of the Governor.

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