NGSS Bootcamp

Astronaut Susan J. Helms Visits Out of This World Summer Camp


RENO, Nev. — August 8, 2018 — Campers at Sierra Nevada Journeys’ space-themed summer camp, Out of This World, had a very special otherworldly guest visit them at Grizzly Creek Ranch in Portola, Calif. Astronaut Susan J. Helms, Lieutenant General, USAF, was the first woman to go where no woman had gone before – to live aboard the International Space Station and spent the morning with campers sharing her experiences in space.

In 1976, Helms broke barriers as part of the first Air Force Academy class to admit women. “Back in the 70’s the military was one of the places women could get equal pay for equal work,” said Helms. Her military career in aeronautics led to being selected for the astronaut program. During her career, Helms made five trips to space, including spending six months on the Space Station. Now, Helms spends her time encouraging young men and women to explore the science and technology fields.

“If you don’t feel like you have barriers, then what you can accomplish becomes ever so much more expansive,” said Helms. Her stories and can-do spirit that broke space barriers may have inspired some future astronauts and scientists.

About Helms’ Career

  • Helms has logged 5,064 hours in space and holds the world record for the longest spacewalk.

  • Her first mission was in January 1993, aboard STS-54 space shuttle Endeavour. The primary objective of this mission was to deploy a $200 million Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-F).

  • Her second mission was aboard STS-64 in September 1994 as a flight engineer and the primary Remote Manipulator System (RMS) operator.

  • From June 20 to July 7, 1996, aboard STS-78, Helms was the payload commander and flight engineer on the longest space shuttle mission to date. The mission included studies sponsored by 10 nations and five space agencies.

  • Helms flew again aboard STS-101 in May 2000 and performed critical repairs to extend the life of the Functional Cargo Block (FGB) on the International Space Station.

  • From March to August 2001, Helms became the first woman to live and serve aboard the International Space Station as a member of the Expedition-2 crew. Helms installed the Quest Joint Airlock to the Unity module using the newly installed Canadarm2. The crew welcomed a visiting Soyuz crew that included the first space tourist. Helms also performed a world record 8-hour, 56-minute spacewalk to install hardware to the external body of the laboratory module.

  • After a 12-year career with NASA that included 211 days in space, Helms returned to the U.S. Air Force until retiring as a three-star general in 2014.

  • In 2011, Helms was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Sierra Nevada Journeys Hosts Fourth Annual NGSS Bootcamp for Educators


RENO, Nev. – May 16, 2018 — Sierra Nevada Journeys hosted more than 100 teachers from northern Nevada and northeastern California for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) training. The three-day program held at our Grizzly Creek Ranch Campus in Portola, California, shared how to incorporate NGSS standards into their classrooms through outdoor-based education.

Sierra Nevada Journeys Education Director, Sean Hill, said, “It has been our best year ever with 110 attendees including teachers, specialists, administrators and pre-service teachers that represented 11 districts across two states.”

NGSS has three distinct dimensions to learning science — crosscutting concepts, science and engineering practices and disciplinary core ideas. “Many science educators are familiar with this framework but what is not commonly known are the shifts in teaching philosophy, instruction and assessment that teachers need to know in order to effectively teach students using the current research,” said Hill.

NGSS Bootcamp brings industry thought leaders together to share ideas and best practices for STEM-based programming that focuses on the outdoors. This year’s program wouldn’t be possible without supporters such as Project Learning Tree which presented all teachers with several free lessons through PLT’s new online curriculum, or “e-units”. Additional partners included: Catamount Fund, Ltd., Intel’s Folsom campus, Nevada Division of Forestry, Nevada’s Northwestern Professional Development Program for Education, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Washoe County School District, North American Association for Environmental Education EE360 program and Desert Research Institute’s Science Alive program. Collaborations between private, public and nonprofit companies like these fuel Sierra Nevada Journeys’ mission to deliver innovative outdoor, science-based education for youth as well as educators through continuing education.

For additional information on how to support Sierra Nevada Journeys, 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.