Family Science Nights

Sierra Nevada Journeys receives $4,500 from the Community Foundation of Western Nevada


RENO, Nev. — July 8, 2019 — Sierra Nevada Journeys received a $4,500 Community Fund grant from the Community Foundation. Partnering together, Sierra Nevada Journeys and Desert Research Institute will provide 10 Family STEM Nights reaching 1,500 children and families from local elementary schools. Family STEM Nights are a fun evening with interactive science-themed stations that reinforce STEM concepts learned in the classroom.

The partnership between Sierra Nevada Journeys and Desert Research Institute (DRI) will step up the level of Family STEM Nights by providing access to DRI faculty in addition to Sierra Nevada Journeys educators and expose children at an early age to STEM education and possible future STEM careers.

Based at school sites, each Family STEM Night is a hands-on, two-hour event that includes mini- challenges, family-based competitive projects and dinner, appealing to the whole family to build comfort in STEM subjects. Each event ranges in attendance from 100-200+ students, parents and siblings. This exciting, family-friendly approach can be especially effective for students who have difficulties in a classroom setting.

In addition to our staff teachers, we have a model in place to seamlessly integrate volunteers into our Family STEM Nights. This is a rich experience for volunteers and provides interaction between the community and the school.

Nevada has a science education deficit in elementary schools. Nevada ranks 44 out of 50 states in educating students in early-age science. Elementary teachers self-report spending less than two hours a week on science in the classroom. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what our nation’s students know and can do.

“Family STEM Nights provide a great opportunity for families to engage in STEM activities together and help bridge the science gap. Also, parents getting involved with their child’s school has been effective in improving a child’s learning and fosters positive environments both at school at home,” Eaton Dunkelberger, CEO, Sierra Nevada Journeys said.

“Sierra Nevada Journeys and DRI have great synergies in supporting K-6 education by providing tools, resources and inquiry-based STEM curriculum in our community; we look forward to partnering with Sierra Nevada Journeys on Family STEM Nights so all students can learn more about science and the environment,” said Amelia Gulling, Science Alive STEM Education Director at DRI.

To learn more about Family STEM Nights or to schedule one for your school, please visit

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. For additional information about Sierra Nevada Journeys, visit

About DRI

The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is a recognized world leader in basic and applied interdisciplinary research. Committed to scientific excellence and integrity, DRI faculty, students, and staff have developed scientific knowledge and innovative technologies in research projects around the globe. Since 1959, DRI's research has advanced scientific knowledge, supported Nevada's diversifying economy, provided science-based educational opportunities, and informed policymakers, business leaders, and community members. With campuses in Reno and Las Vegas, DRI is one of eight institutions in the Nevada System of Higher Education. More about DRI can be found at

About Community Foundation

The Community Foundation of Western Nevada strengthens our region through philanthropy and leadership by connecting people who care with causes that matter. For more information on the Community Fund grants, visit

Nevada Rangeland Station at Family Science Nights educates youth and parents about current rangeland issues

RENO, Nev. — March 14, 2019 — The Nevada Rangeland demonstration at Sierra Nevada Journeys’ Family Science Nights is one of our most popular stations. Family Science Nights are an evening event held at local schools where students and parents come together to participate in interactive science activities. The rangeland station uses “touch boxes” where students reach inside and feel an item such as a feather. Using clues from the display, they discover the feather represents Nevada’s sage grouse. It’s a fun and hands-on approach to learning about Nevada Rangeland topics like the importance of Nevada’s ranching community, grazing, the small game bird sage grouse (also known as the sagehen), wild horses and the impacts of wildfires.  

With the support of Nevada Rangeland Resources Commission, Golden Productions created a video spotlighting us at the rangeland station so you can see interactions firsthand.

To learn more about Nevada Rangeland Resources Commission, check out their documentary series “Stewards of the Rangeland.” The series has been featured on KNPB Channel 5 Public Broadcasting and focuses on topics including how to prevent the sage grouse becoming an endangered species; challenges that open ranges face due to wildfires; exploring the state’s most precious resource — water; and livestock management strategies of five northern Nevada ranching families.

View video of Nevada Rangeland demonstration directly on Sierra Nevada Journeys’ YouTube channel.

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:

Retired Aerospace Engineer Volunteers for SNJ

Marlys Pryor volunteers at a Family Science Night at Caughlin Ranch Elementary School.
Science and math are critical to the future of this country and the planet.
— Marlys Pryor

When volunteering for Sierra Nevada Journeys, you become an integral part of our mission:

Deliver innovative outdoor, science-based education programs for youth to develop critical thinking skills and to inspire natural resource stewardship.

Our volunteers are looking for a way to make a difference in the world, share their love of science and the great outdoors. This is what brought Marlys Pryor to Sierra Nevada Journeys after relocating to Reno, NV in 2015.

Marlys is a retired aerospace engineer from Indianapolis, IN who worked for Rolls-Royce Aircraft Engines, Douglas Aircraft Company and General Electric Aircraft Engine Business Group, to name a few. She has her Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from New York University and her Master of Science in Business Management from the University of LaVerne.

She met Eaton Dunkelberger, CEO of Sierra Nevada Journeys, at a Soroptimist meeting soon after moving to Reno. They got to talking. All who have had the pleasure of talking to Eaton about Sierra Nevada Journeys and our mission become involved in some manner. As Marlys puts it, “I met Eaton and the rest (volunteering) is history.” She attends and lends her knowledge during our Family Science Nights at local elementary schools.

Volunteering takes time, dedication and a strong passion for an organization’s mission. When asked why Marlys volunteers for Sierra Nevada Journeys, she said “I am a staunch advocate of exposing young people to the sciences, whether it be relating to the outdoors or outer space. Science and math are critical to the future of this country and the planet.” We couldn’t agree more.

Marlys “definitely” recommends volunteering with Sierra Nevada Journeys to others because, “Children are the future. We need to impress upon them that if the planet is to continue supporting life in a sustainable manner, everyone has to care and exercise stewardship of our natural resources.”

Many thanks to Marlys and the countless hours she has put into the organization and the education of our youth.

Marlys Pryor (left) and Jennifer Robinson (right) at a Family Science Night at Caughlin Ranch Elementary School.

Marlys Pryor (left) and Jennifer Robinson (right) at a Family Science Night at Caughlin Ranch Elementary School.

We are always looking for passionate volunteers for our Outdoor Field Studies and Family Science Nights. If interested, please contact Jennifer Robinson at

If you're unable to volunteer your time, please consider making a donation to support SNJ programs.