Giving Tuesday: Engage Students and Families in STEM Education

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This Giving Tuesday on Nov. 28, please support Sierra Nevada Journeys as we seek financial support for our Family Science Night program that we deliver to families in Northern Nevada and the Sacramento region.

Through STEM activities, Sierra Nevada Journeys is able to turn just-another-evening into a fun and educational experience for the whole family.

We are proud to announce that Microsoft Reno is committed to providing quality STEM experiences to the community and has donated $3,000 to kick-off our campaign. Please join us and Microsoft this Giving Tuesday to help raise an additional $5,000.

If you have a Facebook account, please donate here: http://bit.ly/2hNgLkY. When you donate through Facebook on Nov. 28 starting at 8 a.m. PST, your donation may be matched up to $1,000 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation!

If you're not active on Facebook, you can donate securely online: http://bit.ly/2jAkx1s 

If you are interested in volunteering during our Family Science Nights, learn more and register with our volunteer coordinators.

100% Giving Board Award 2017

2017 100% Giving Board Certificate

2017 100% Giving Board Certificate

Special Note from Lauren Renda

Program Officer at Community Foundation of Western Nevada

I’d like to congratulate you and your board for having achieved 100% giving of personal, financial contributions, by your Board members in 2017. 

The 100% Giving Board Award recognizes the personal financial support each board member commits to the financial health of their nonprofit. This is an opportunity to go “above and beyond” in the scope of support and relationship between board members and the organizations they serve. This year, we are honoring 83 organizations whose boards have given over $2.3 million in personal financial support and your board is among them.

It has been incredible to see how the 100% Giving Board program has been woven into the culture of these organizations. We’ve been told that some staff members use this award as a tool to have a conversation with their board members about the importance of giving to the organization. We love to see that organizations and their boards have made it a personal commitment to stay on this list year after year.

Congratulations again to your organization and Board who support the cause and mission of your organization by making an annual gift. They understand their role as a board member, and are to be commended for their commitment.

SNJ ScienceFest, Presented by WETLAB

A Free Family Event to Celebrate Sierra Nevada Journeys' 10-Year Anniversary and 100,000th Student Served

(Reno, Nev.) September 11, 2017 — On Saturday, Sept. 23, Sierra Nevada Journeys is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with the northern Nevada community by hosting SNJ ScienceFest, Presented by WETLAB. SNJ ScienceFest is a free family event taking place at Washoe County’s Bartley Ranch Regional Park from 4 – 6 p.m. Families will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on science activities and experiments while enjoying live music from local band Boondoggle, and food and beverages for purchase from food truck vendors. Raffle prizes will also be available from generous businesses such as The Discovery, Peppermill Resort Spa Casino, Reno Bighorns and Reno 1868.

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In partnership with Reno Dads, Sierra Nevada Journeys will be hosting a “Dress as Your Favorite Scientist” photo booth contest. Children can come in costume or choose from photo booth props to transform into a geologist, chemist, engineer, and more. Two winners will be chosen from two age categories based on a photo contest on the Reno Dads Facebook page. Voting will be open for one week starting Sunday, Sept. 24. One winner between the ages of 8-17 will receive a week-long summer camp experience in 2018 with Sierra Nevada Journeys at Grizzly Creek Ranch near Portola, CA, and one winner under the age of eight will receive a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) kit.

Thank you to our sponsors WETLAB, NV Energy and Alpine Insurance for supporting SNJ ScienceFest.

WHAT: SNJ ScienceFest, Presented by WETLAB
WHEN: Saturday, September 23 from 4 – 6 p.m.
WHERE: Washoe County’s Bartley Ranch Regional Park
WHO: Interviews will be available with:

  • Eaton Dunkelberger, CEO, Sierra Nevada Journeys
  • Karen Senger, Director of Development, Sierra Nevada Journeys
  • Megan Duggan, Marketing and Communications Director, Sierra Nevada Journeys

About Sierra Nevada Journeys

Sierra Nevada Journeys is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that delivers innovative outdoor, science-based education programs for youth to develop critical thinking skills and to inspire natural resource stewardship. Through multiple points of contact, our classroom-based programs, overnight science camps, professional development for teachers, and parent engagement opportunities surround students with resources they need to succeed. All programs are designed to foster higher cognition and build long-term student achievement.

31st Annual Project Learning Tree International Coordinators Conference

Sean Hill, our director of education, attended the 31st annual Project Learning Tree International Coordinators Conference April 24-27. He had a great time networking with State PLT Coordinators and learned about new online professional development opportunities for Nevada teachers!

He journaled his week for us below:


Greetings from Bourbon Country!

I’m here at the 31st annual Project Learning Tree (PLT) International Coordinators Conference. The conference provides an amazing opportunity to network with other State PLT Coordinators, outstanding educators, various program sponsors and partners and other education professionals from around the country and the world. It’ll be action-packed this week as I’ll be networking, attending workshops and brainstorming sessions as I collect great resources and best practices to bring back to Sierra Nevada Journeys and ultimately, Nevada teachers and students (stay tuned for upcoming announcements for new online Professional Development options for teachers as well as for information about exciting new classroom curriculum, the new PLT e-units).

Project Learning Tree is keeping our schedules busy with excellent speakers, including a great session on Tuesday by Judy Braus, Executive Director for the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE).

Don’t worry – we also have time built in for exploring Louisville, Kentucky, including a trip to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and a local arboretum.

I’m stoked to be here representing Nevada!

Help Support Science Education for Youth during Big Day of Giving on May 4

Sacramento, Calif. (April 25, 2017) — Sierra Nevada Journeys is participating in the Sacramento region’s fifth Big Day of Giving on Thurs., May 4. Sierra Nevada Journeys is new to the Sacramento area, yet has been growing at an incredible pace. To keep up with the demand, Sierra Nevada Journeys is seeking financial support to continue to deliver hands-on and engaging science programming to first through sixth graders.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) literacy is in critical demand nationwide. According to the Science and Engineering Readiness Index (SERI), California ranks 34 out of 50, which is considered to be below average, in educating students in science. Sierra Nevada Journeys’ mission is to improve these scores, and to create the next generation of environmental scientists, geologists, ecologists and engineers.

After evaluating pre- and post-assessment data after one of Sierra Nevada Journeys’ core programs, Classrooms Unleashed, 90 percent of the participating students show an increase in comprehension of state science standards. Classroom teachers love the program and educational practices to teach and engage their students.

“The engaging materials and lessons were designed in a way as to make them accessible, tactile, and therefore memorable and meaningful,” said Mike Pickering, a sixth grade teacher at William Land Elementary School.

Sacramento programming includes the school-based programs Classrooms Unleashed and Family Science Nights. Classrooms Unleashed is a blended in-class and field trip experience taught by Sierra Nevada Journeys, which has grown from 12 schools and 930 students in 2015 to 30 schools and 4,500 students this year. A Family Science Night is an interactive and rewarding way for students and their families to engage with their schools through STEM-related activities. In 2016, they hosted 25 Family Science Nights across the Sacramento region. Sierra Nevada Journeys growth can be greatly attributed to the dedication and leadership from Sacramento Program Director, Sarah Barnes.

“Our programs give kids an opportunity to problem solve, collaborate and connect with nature,” said Barnes. “It makes me feel like we’re helping to grow capable future stewards of our world.”

To support the work of Sierra Nevada Journeys and ensure an exciting future for students and community success, please support Sierra Nevada Journeys and science education during this year’s Big Day of Giving. Help build the next generation of leaders, scientists and stewards.

For more information or to donate, please visit: https://www.bigdayofgiving.org/sierranevadajourneys

Sierra Nevada Journeys Inspires Student to Pursue Outdoor Education as a Career

Melissa Mazzuca, a 3-year employee at Sierra Nevada Journeys, was the 2016 Senior Scholar recipient for the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno. This is one the most prestigious awards at the University. It is given to students from each school or college who meet exceptional program standards. During the reception, Melissa spoke about how Sierra Nevada Journeys inspired her to pursue outdoor education

We were able to connect with her during finals (of all time) to talk about her Sierra Nevada Journeys experience.


You just received your BS in Environmental Science. What's next?
I am excited to take a much needed breather for a few months this winter and spend some quality time with my family at home. I am also taking a trip to the east coast to visit friends and explore! In April, I am extremely excited to be moving to Oregon to continue my work in environmental education at Camp Tamarack Outdoor School.

How were you introduced to Sierra Nevada Journeys?
One of my freshman professors required our class to attend a natural resources career fair. It was there that I met Sean Hill, the Education Director for Sierra Nevada Journeys. I immediately applied to work as a counselor at Grizzly Creek Ranch.

How long have you been involved with Sierra Nevada Journeys and in what capacity?
I have spent an incredible three years with Sierra Nevada Journeys in numerous roles. I started up at campus as a cabin counselor for summer camp. I immediately knew that a few weeks of summer camp was not enough for me and reached out to Kristen Fenstermacher, the campus director at the time, and asked her how I could get more involved. She brought me on for the fall as a part-time instructor where I got to come to campus on the weekends and facilitate the challenge course with leadership programs. Still seeking more involvement with such an amazing organization, I applied for an internship in the Reno office for the following spring. For the next few years I worked with the Classrooms Unleashed program as a field instructor.

My second summer with Sierra Nevada Journeys I took on two new roles. First, I was able to move up to campus a month before summer programs began to finish out the outdoor school season as a Residential Outdoor Science Instructor. Then once summer began, I had the pleasure of being the Arts and Crafts Specialist for all summer programs. I had such an incredible second season with Sierra Nevada Journeys that I went ahead and continued my same roles for a third!  

What were some of your favorite moments with Sierra Nevada Journeys?
I absolutely loved being the Arts and Crafts Specialist over the summer. One of my favorite parts of the position was when the older girls would come and we would all craft together and sing Taylor Swift; it was beautiful. It also gave me the opportunity to get to know all the campers really well, not just one cabin.

I also really enjoyed working the registration table at check-in. I loved getting to experience camper’s very first impression of Sierra Nevada Journeys or seeing how excited the returners were to be back at camp.

A specific favorite memory was during a very stormy day of summer 2015. The campers probably spent more time inside than out due to the weather that week, but you'd never be able to tell based on their spirits. As a special rainy day activity, a few counselors planned a lip sync battle. No one anticipated how into it all the campers would get with elaborate dances and costumes. I even got to take on the role of Katniss Everdeen as a judge. Every camper and staff member had an incredible time despite the weather and it is one of my favorite summer camp memories to date.

How has Sierra Nevada Journeys helped you personally and professionally?
I have grown so much since I started with Sierra Nevada Journeys in 2013. I am more confident, social, and open to trying new things. Sierra Nevada Journeys is like a home to me and I feel like it’s where I really found myself. It’s also where I found what I like to call “my people.” From my incredible mentor Kristen, to my camp mom Debbie, to all my amazing friends, I have never felt a greater sense of belonging. I believe this sense of belonging is what really made me feel and act like my true self.

I have also gained a long list of professional skills to grow as an environmental educator. My growth is due largely to the amazing people that I have been surrounded by at Sierra Nevada Journeys. I have received an incredible amount of guidance and support for the last three years. I have had the pleasure of learning a ton about teaching, challenge course facilitation, and just working with children in general from observing and being in the company of my fellow instructors. I genuinely loved being the baby of the staff because I had the opportunity to learn so much from my peers.

If I haven't already communicated it, Sierra Nevada Journeys really has meant the world to me. I’m sad to be moving on, but I am incredibly thankful for the growth that I have experienced through Sierra Nevada Journeys and am eager to apply it to my next adventure.  

Sierra Nevada Journeys is a proud sponsor of the Family Estate Planning Series

Sierra Nevada Journeys is proud to be a sponsor of the Family Estate Planning Series. Seven classes taught by local estate planning professionals on topics such as wills, probate, trusts, power of attorney, health care directives and more are offered free to the public. Classes begin March 29.

For more information or to register, contact Karen Senger, Development Director, at 775-355-1688, and she'll send your information to the Community Foundation of Western Nevada.

Let’s Make Nevada’s Big Give Bigger in Northern Nevada

Join thousands of Nevadans in supporting your favorite nonprofit organization on Thursday, March 23 for the 6th annual Nevada’s Big Give. Nevada’s Big Give is a statewide 24-hour online giving initiative to raise awareness of, and funds for, all nonprofits and schools that improve the quality of life for Nevadans.

The concept of Nevada’s Big Give was developed and initiated by NevadaGIVES board member, Stacey Wedding, a lifelong Nevadan who has committed her professional life and much of her personal life to the philanthropy sector. Wedding presented the concept to the NevadaGIVES board in early 2011. Soon after, Nevada was celebrating the first ever Nevada’s Big Give. In just the first year, online donations totaled $413,048 from 2,063 generous individuals throughout our great state. Fast forward to 2016. Nevada raised over $638,000 from 5,567 individuals. That’s a 35 percent increase in funding in five years. These numbers show that Nevadans have big hearts when it comes to giving.

So far, there are 33 Northern Nevada nonprofit organizations that you can help support on Nevada’s Big Give – including Sierra Nevada Journeys, Note-Able Music Therapy Services, Immunize Nevada, Reno Philharmonic Association, Nevada Humane Society, Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, and United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra, to name a few. Some organizations have even partnered with each other to double their impact in the community.

For example, Sierra Nevada Journeys is partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada for the second year to send 20 Littles to Sierra Nevada Journeys’ Summer Camp at Grizzly Creek Ranch in Portola, Calif. Summer camp immerses children in outdoor learning, teamwork and leadership, promoting achievement well past the campfire. To send 20 Littles to summer camp, Sierra Nevada Journeys has set a fundraising goal of $11,980. Donations will be matched up to $3,000 by a generous donor.

Note-Able Music Therapy Services is seeking $5,000 to provide weekly music therapy at The Eddy House, helping engage at-risk youth with music. Music has shown to be a powerful way for people to express difficult emotions, while experiencing the joy of expression and creating art.

The Reno Philharmonic Association wants to offer a free children’s concert at Wingfield Park, Beethoven Lives Upstairs, to Artown this July. This event will help introduce children in our community to classical music in an engaging setting. In order to bring the performance to Reno, the Reno Philharmonic Association needs to raise $7,500.

These three examples are just a glimpse of what organizations are fundraising for during this year’s Big Give.

Seek out your favorite nonprofit organizations or learn about new ones that match your passions, be it education, arts and culture, children and family, or the environment. Visit www.nvbiggive.org and make Nevada’s Big Give even bigger in Northern Nevada by participating and donating on March 23.

- Written by Megan Duggan, Marketing and Communications Director for Sierra Nevada Journeys

Sierra Nevada Journeys Receives $10,000 Grant from NV Energy

Reno, NV – Jan. 12, 2017NV Energy recently awarded Sierra Nevada Journeys a $10,000 grant to support their Classrooms Unleashed program. Through this grant, 324 northern Nevada elementary students will have access to effective, high-quality science instruction during the 2016-17 school year.  

"Sierra Nevada Journeys is proud to have the support of the NV Energy Foundation,” said Karen Senger, director of development for Sierra Nevada Journeys. “Their partnership is helping to build a community of youth who are leaders, scientists and stewards of the natural world.”

Students in grades first through sixth will receive three hands-on classroom-based lessons and one field-study experience to help increase their understanding of science standards and their interest in STEM subjects. 

Classrooms Unleashed uses hands-on, experiential outdoor education as a framework for children to study, think and learn. The program is aligned to state and national standards and the North American Association for Environmental Education’s Guidelines for Excellence. 

Nevada currently ranks 44th in the nation on the Science and Engineering Readiness Index. With support from partners like NV Energy, Sierra Nevada Journeys aims to improve these low scores and works diligently to ensure that all students have access to high quality science education. 

Sierra Nevada Journeys Receives $10,000 Grant from PPG Industries

Reno, NV – Jan. 9, 2017 PPG Industries recently awarded Sierra Nevada Journeys a $10,000 grant to support their Classrooms Unleashed program. Through this grant, Sierra Nevada Journeys will deliver Classrooms Unleashed to 324 northern Nevada students in second through fifth grade during the 2016-17 school year.  

"Sierra Nevada Journeys is proud to have the support of PPG Industries,” said Karen Senger, director of development for Sierra Nevada Journeys. “We applaud their commitment to enriching children’s live through outdoor science education.”

Students will receive three hands-on classroom-based lessons and one field-study experience to help increase their understanding of science standards and their interest in STEM subjects. 

Classrooms Unleashed uses hands-on, experiential outdoor education as a framework for children to study, think and learn. The program is aligned to state and national standards and the North American Association for Environmental Education’s Guidelines for Excellence. 

Sierra Nevada Journeys is dedicated to improving Nevada’s below average science education ranking (44 out of 50) by bringing science to children and supporting the educators who teach them. In 2015, 90 percent of students attending our Classrooms Unleashed programming demonstrated improved understanding of science standards based on assessment data.