Each year, our Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) members from all over the Sierra have the unique opportunity to gather in person for spring training. During the last week of April, we did just that, and it was a tremendous success.
Over twenty of our members and staff took a trip to Groveland, California, and spent five days learning about mountain ecology, stewardship, prescribed burning, and more. It was a wonderful opportunity for the team to get to know each other better and build connections. The group stayed at the beautiful Camp Tuolumne Trails, where they were able to enjoy the incredible landscapes and find some peace and relaxation during the week.
The experience included a naturalist-guided hike in Yosemite National Park, where members observed the guide’s interpretive skills and learned about the history of the park and the current state of forest health in Yosemite. Some of our SNAP members this year are interested in careers in interpretation, and our guide, Marty, provided an invaluable experience for us. Thank you to Yosemite Conservancy for giving us such a special day.
Our members also participated in a prescribed burn at one of our host sites, Camp Tawonga. When the Rim Fire swept through the area in 2013, Camp Tawonga lost several structures. Now, efforts are underway to create a fire-safe landscape on the several hundred acres of camp property. SNAP members helped rake flammable materials into organized rows and set them on fire to create small, controlled burns. One of our SNAP members, Jack Rohwer, was able to guide the team through much of the day. It was an incredible learning experience for our members, especially those that are interested in future careers in forestry.
SNAP members also had many opportunities to get to know each other through team-building exercises and personal presentations. With the guidance of our SNAP Program Director, Rebecca Williams, each member made a short professional presentation about their host site and their position. It was exciting to learn about each member’s unique work opportunities. On the final days, each member also gave a heartfelt and informal presentation on the meaningful journey they took to becoming a SNAP member. The presentations gave our members the chance to be vulnerable in a supportive and safe space and to share something the rest of the group might not know about them.
Another of our members, Julia Scheeler, guided the group through several team-building activities throughout the week, both on the low ropes course and off it. S’mores were heavily consumed around a campfire with the accompaniment of guitar playing and an amazing juggling show from one of our members, Holly Johnston-Heath.
Spring training was an incredible week for our members. We are so grateful for the opportunity to be in such a well-rounded and supportive program, and especially thankful to our SNAP Director, Rebecca Williams, and our SNAP Program Assistant, Nicole Laubach-Ferretti, for making this week such a success.