Science Education

Sierra Nevada Journeys Selected as 2018 Semifinalist for SVP Sacramento Fast Pitch

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Brian Broumas
brian@sierranevadajourneys.org  |  916-601-0992

 

SVP Fast Pitch gives nonprofits $220,000 of in-kind support and chance to pitch at Golden 1 Center

SACRAMENTO, CA — Nov. 30, 2017 — Social Venture Partners of Sacramento (SVP), a network of engaged philanthropists focused on improving Sacramento-area education, announced today that Sierra Nevada Journeys has been selected as a semi-finalist for SVP Sacramento Fast Pitch, to be hosted at Golden 1 Center.

“The value of Fast Pitch can be measured quantitatively - 66 total nonprofits supported with over $600,000 in follow-on funding since 2015 - but the real value of the program is in the magic of each nonprofit cohort. Since 2015, 98 percent of participants have rated SVP Fast Pitch as a valuable experience that allowed them to make nonprofit and corporate connections they otherwise would not have connected with. We’re so excited for 2018!” - Bree Cahill, Executive Director of SVP Sacramento

SVP will provide Sierra Nevada Journeys with more than $11,000 of in-kind consulting and support from industry leaders and professionals. In-kind services include peer-to-peer coaching, professional video content, educational services and donor relations support along with a chance to pitch at Golden 1 Center in March 2018.

“We are thrilled to be a semi-finalist for SVP Sacramento Fast Pitch,” said Eaton Dunkelberger, CEO of Sierra Nevada Journeys. “Our STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program growth in Sacramento elementary schools has been rapid and we are excited for the opportunity to improve on telling our story to the community.”

Sierra Nevada Journeys joins a semi-finalist pool of 20 nonprofits and a growing alumni list of 46 nonprofits throughout the Sacramento Region. The Fast Pitch program has led to over $600,000 in follow-on funding, numerous additional pitch opportunities for past participants, and several large one-time gifts ($50K+) for past participants.

The process spans four months, from Dec. 2017 through March 2018, as 20 nonprofit participants and 40 coaches work together through group and 2:1 coaching sessions to hone each 3-minute pitch. Nonprofits also take part in a series of workshops leading up to the final event. On March 8, 2018, 10 nonprofit finalists will take the stage at Golden 1 Center and pitch their stories of impact.

  • B Street Theater received a pledge of a new van and trailer from a donor the night of the Fast Pitch Event, allowing them to reach 30,000 additional children each year through their theatre program.
  • SAGE Global expanded their program to five new schools in Sacramento and added a new board member thanks to relationships formed through Fast Pitch.
  • Food Literacy Center used a version of their pitch in a video grant submission, earning them $20,000.
  • Fresher Sacramento received a $50,000 donation at SVP Fast Pitch, allowing them to bring on a new full-time staff member.

ABOUT FAST PITCH:
SVP Fast Pitch helps nonprofits craft their story. Forty business professionals are matched with 20 nonprofit leaders to build strategies, create scripts and develop a presentation. The pinnacle of Fast Pitch happens on March 8, 2018 at Golden 1 Center when 10 finalists will compete to win $30,000+ in prize money and awards. The 20 semifinalists each receive access to three workshops, a 30-second commercial quality ad, a 1-minute professionally produced pitch video, 2:1 mentoring and group pitch sessions, totaling more than $11,000 in value. Since 2015, SVP Fast Pitch has led to an additional $600K in follow-on funding for participants.

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.

INFORMATION ON SVP SACRAMENTO:
SVP Sacramento unites local business leaders and philanthropists with educationally focused nonprofits, combining financial and capacity-building support with a passion for education. Since 2008, SVP Sacramento has invested over $1.3 million into educationally focused nonprofits in the greater Sacramento area. Investees include Reading Partners, Teach for America, City Year, Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), Powerhouse Science Center, College Track and 916 Ink.

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.

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 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.

2016 Golden Pinecone Awards

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On Nov. 1, 2016, Sierra Nevada Journeys was awarded nonprofit organization of the year during the Golden Pinecone Awards hosted by GREENevada. Dave Stockman, one of our long-time trustees and financial partners, welcomed Eaton Dunkelberger, our CEO, to the stage. It was an exciting moment for the organization as we are about to celebrate our 10-year anniversary in 2017. We are also expected to serve our 100,000th student next year.

Below was our nomination:

Sierra Nevada Journeys (SNJ) is a 501(c)(3) organization that uses the unique outdoor classrooms of the region to deliver robust outdoor science and collaborative problem solving education to promote long-term student achievement. They accomplish this through the Whole School Model, an outdoor education program that ensures the teachable moments inherent in outdoor education are extended both across the school year and through a student's elementary grade progression. SNJ's Whole School Model uses outdoor science education supported by in-school lessons and teacher professional development to maximize student inspiration and achievement across science, technology, engineering, math, reading, and collaborative problem solving.
Since their start in 2006, they have served over 75,000 students and 4,500 educators with residential outdoor science programs, field and school based programs and teacher professional development. SNJ has more than doubled the students they have served over the past 3 years; SNJ now serves 2/3rds of elementary school in Northern NV with outdoor science programs; and SNJ will serve over 50 schools with Family Science Nights in the coming school year.

Thank you to our staff, trustees, volunteers and financial partners. Thank you to our community of teachers, parents and students. We couldn't have done this without you.

Congratulations to all the other Golden Pinecone winners! We are honored to be surrounded by such dedicated and talented individuals and organizations.


History of the Golden Pinecone

The Golden Pinecone Ball was started by Tod Bedrosian, Bob Fulkerson, Glenn Miller and Bob Loux in 1988 to bring the environmental community together as friends and initially to get the community excited about stopping the dump of nuclear waste. It was nicknamed the "conservation casual drab event" and the pinecone awards were handmade out of plywood, an ironic twist on formal award ceremonies to honor the environmental accomplishments of the past year.

The Golden Pinecone Awards and Ball is a legacy event run for more than 25 years by Environmental Leadership, Nevada EcoNET and more recently greenUP! In 2016, GREENevada took ownership for the vent as part of its environmental leadership mission. GREENevada has a strong reach throughout the environmental community and wanted to continue this important tradition of recognizing outstanding individuals and organizations for their achievements toward improving and sustaining the environment.

Build more science time in and out of the classroom

On our hikes together, my curious 5-year-old son collects rocks and brings them home to organize in various jars by color and shape. As educators and outdoor enthusiasts, my wife and I encourage his geologic exploration.

Tapping into natural curiosity like my son’s is what makes science the perfect tool to engage children in critical thinking and a lifelong love of learning.

Science has taken a back seat in recent years in the elementary classroom to the “core” subjects: math and English. An unintended consequence of the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001, which sought to build more accountability in public schools, was the increased focus on student testing in math and English, shifting classroom instructional time away from the sciences, social studies, and even the arts and physical education. A recent Vital Signs report shows less than 1.7 hours per week of science is taught in elementary classrooms in Nevada.

In Northern Nevada, with the recent arrival of the big tech companies like Switch and Tesla, it is critical to focus on preparing our youth now for the tremendous growth in knowledge-based careers. Clearly, there is need to increase access to high-quality, impactful educational opportunities for youth in our community.

Here’s the good news: Science and engineering are the perfect vehicles to teach interdisciplinary lessons, so we can have strong science education in the classroom without taking time away from the core subjects. Additionally, in 2014 the Nevada Department of Education adopted a new set of academic standards for science edducation. This adoption was based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a set of K-12 benchmarks for science education in the classroom. The standards have been adopted in 18 states and the District of Columbia. Locally, Sierra Nevada Journeys has been taking a lead on designing and delivering student programming and teacher training grounded in the NGSS.

If you have children in your life or teachers in your family, you may have heard of Sierra Nevada Journeys, a local nonprofit founded in 2006 on a simple premise: to build the next generation of citizens, scientists and stewards through hands-on science education. We’ve created unique educational programming to help teachers build more science time in and out of the classroom. We have an excellent team of credentialed teachers that design and deliver fun, high-impact elementary programs that take place in the classroom, on overnight trips to our Grizzly Creek Ranch campus, and on one-day field trips to local natural areas. Armed with our mission to deliver innovative outdoor, science-based education programs for youth to develop critical thinking skills and to inspire natural resource stewardship, Sierra Nevada Journeys programming affects more than 15,000 Nevada students and 400 teachers annually.

Whether it’s rocks, or beavers, or bugs, or earthquakes, science offers so many ways to engage the curiosity of young people. Why not take advantage of that to increase the quality of all of our children’s educational experience?

Sean Hill is the director of education for Sierra Nevada Journeys.

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 jennifer@sierranevadajourneys.org.

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

SNJ Educator Attends 2016 NSTA Conference

SNJ Experiential Educator Michael Casale attends NSTA Conference in Nashville, TN.

SNJ Experiential Educator Michael Casale attends NSTA Conference in Nashville, TN.

I look forward to attending future conferences at the national level and representing the mission of Sierra Nevada Journeys and its impact that we as an organization have in the community we live.

For the first time in my teaching career, I stepped away from my local network and went national. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend the 2016 National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Conference in Nashville, TN to meet with and learn from teachers around the country. Participation included numerous engaging and informative workshops presented by teachers with diverse backgrounds and levels of experience from a variety of education sectors. Within each workshop, teachers described the successes and challenges they have been facing in their classrooms and other educational settings. 

To my surprise, science teachers from all educational environments (e.g., informal to formal), grades (e.g., pre-K to High School AP) and experience (e.g., first year teachers to instructional coaches) posed a question on common ground: "How do we enhance science education for students from all backgrounds and learning styles, while designing and implementing Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) curriculum that is three dimensionally aligned?" The workshops I attended emphasized current research and teaching strategies centered on the application of the 3-Dimensional framework – the foundation of the NGSS. Others built on each other. For example, I participated in a series of workshops that focused on analyzing and improving existing science units. Working in small groups, the goal was to revise the units to make them more 3-Dimensionally aligned. Each session built on the previous and the same group of teachers worked together throughout the five workshops. This type of continuous learning was a highlight for me. 

My NSTA Conference experience was a rewarding professional and personal learning opportunity. NSTA 2016 enabled me to expand my professional network and afforded me the chance to see a part of the country that I have never traveled to before. Nashville is a unique city that proudly celebrates its deep roots in American music history and culture. I look forward to attending future conferences at the national level and representing the mission of Sierra Nevada Journeys and its impact that we as an organization have in the community we live.

- Michael Casale, SNJ Experiential Educator

Gift Guide: Top 10 Toys for your Kid Scientist!

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Support Sierra Nevada Journeys by shopping for these science gifts on AmazonSmile. The AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to your charitable organization of choice.

 

1.     Little Bits

Age: 8+

Price: $150+

A range of modular components that kids and designers can use to build fun projects with lights, motors, sounds, and other fun affects.

 

2.     Groovy Lab in a Box

Age: 8+

Price: $30

These subscription boxes arrive at your doorstep every month and are full of hands-on activities that help kids investigate, brainstorm, plan, build, test, and redesign their own creations.

 

3.     Zombie Plant Growing Kit

Age: All

Price: $20

This unique nature growing kit pairs that botany-lover kid of yours with the excitement of zombies. These plants are known as “don’t-touch-me” plants and will actually play dead, become wilted, when they are touched.

 

4.     Roominate Dollhouse Kits

Age: 6-12 Years

Price: $40+   

Roominate lets girls play architect to build their own dream house. They design it, build it, and then electrify it to make it come alive. The idea comes from two female engineers from Stanford that are on a mission to inspire the next wave of female technology innovators.

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5.     Magna-Tiles

Age: 3-5 Years

Price: $199

With rave reviews, these tiles will keep the kids interested for hours by learning basic math and science skills through fun, creative play. The tiles snap together in endless ways for lots of hours creating fun inventions and designs.

 

6.     Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay up Late

Age: 3-10 Years

Price: $8

Built on the idea that bedtime math can replace bedtime storytelling for kids, this book (also available on Kindle) makes it easy to get in some math practice daily.

 

7.     Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Discovery Kit

Age: 8+ Years

Price: $20

With its easy-to-follow instructions, Snap Circuits offers 101 do-it-yourself projects that will give your child an entertaining, concrete education on how electronics work.

 

8.     Scientific Explorer Tasty Science Kit

Age: 8+

Price: $60

Perfect for your little scientist who loves the magic of cooking. Now they can discover answers to their common cooking questions and put their taste buds to the test!

 

9.     GoldieBox and the Spinning Machine

Age: 4+

Price: $30      

Designed for younger ages, this interactive book and construction guide gets girls building. The toy encourages spatial skill learning, basic engineering principles, and confidence in problem solving.

 

10. Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit

Age: 8+

Price: $15

Design and build 10 moving machines, comes with pieces and 80 page instructional book. Provides hours of independent fun and learning.