Classrooms Unleashed

PPG Industries Foundation Donates $10,000 to Sierra Nevada Journeys

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RENO, Nev. – December 30, 2017 — Sierra Nevada Journeys announces the $10,000 grant awarded by PPG Industries Foundation. The grant supports our Classrooms Unleashed program for northern Nevada students for the 2017-18 school year.

“We are thrilled that the PPG Industries Foundation continues to partner with Sierra Nevada Journeys to help deliver outdoor science education to elementary children,” said Karen Senger, Sierra Nevada Journeys development director. “PPG Industries is an outstanding partner committed to youth 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 (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.

Classrooms Unleashed is aligned to state and national standards and uses experiential outdoor education as a framework for children to study, think and learn.

Nevada currently ranks 44th in the nation on the Science and Engineering Readiness Index. With support from partners like PPG Industries Foundation, Sierra Nevada Journeys aims to improve these low scores and works diligently to ensure that all students regardless of their economic background have access to their high quality science education programming delivered by licensed teachers.

For additional information on how to support Sierra Nevada Journeys, visit www.sierranevadajourneys.org.

 

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.

Truckee Meadows Water Authority Donates $11,000 to Sierra Nevada Journeys

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RENO, Nev. – December 29, 2017 — Sierra Nevada Journeys announces the $11,000 grant awarded by Truckee Meadows Water Authority. The grant will help provide funding for northern Nevada third through fifth grade students with the Watershed Education Initiative (WEI) for the 2017-18 school year. WEI helps promote the health and protection of our local watershed and to increase conservation efforts.

“We’re so grateful for the continued support of Truckee Meadows Water Authority,” said Karen Senger, Sierra Nevada Journeys development director. “Truckee Meadows Water Authority and Sierra Nevada Journeys are both committed to educating elementary children about the importance of our watersheds and how to preserve and protect them.”

Students will participate in our Classrooms Unleashed program and 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 (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.

Classrooms Unleashed is aligned to state and national standards and uses experiential outdoor education as a framework for children to study, think and learn.

Nevada currently ranks 44th in the nation on the Science and Engineering Readiness Index. With support from partners like Truckee Meadows Water Authority, Sierra Nevada Journeys aims to improve these low scores and works diligently to ensure that all students regardless of their economic background have access to their high quality science education programming delivered by licensed teachers.

For additional information on how to support Sierra Nevada Journeys, visit www.sierranevadajourneys.org.

 

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.

NV Energy Foundation Donates $10,000 to Sierra Nevada Journeys

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RENO, Nev. – December 28, 2017 — Sierra Nevada Journeys announces the $10,000 grant awarded by the NV Energy Foundation. The grant supports our Classrooms Unleashed program for northern Nevada students for the 2017-18 school year.

“We are so grateful to the NV Energy Foundation for its continued support of outdoor science education for elementary children,” said Karen Senger, Sierra Nevada Journeys development director. “NV Energy is an important partner in the work we do to get children excited about and engaged with science.”

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 (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.

Classrooms Unleashed is aligned to state and national standards and uses experiential outdoor education as a framework for children to study, think and learn.

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 regardless of their economic background have access to their high quality science education programming delivered by licensed teachers.

For additional information on how to support Sierra Nevada Journeys, visit www.sierranevadajourneys.org.

 

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.

2017 Golden Pinecone Sustainability Awards

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, Sierra Nevada Journeys was awarded Educational Program of the Year during this year's Golden Pinecone Sustainability Awards hosted by GREENevada. Vice President of Philanthropy and Community Impact for United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra, Lulleen Lamar, presented the award to our Education Director, Sean Hill. Sean may or may not have done a happy dance on stage when given the award for the success of our Classrooms Unleashed program.

Below was our nomination:

Sierra Nevada Journeys is celebrating their 10-year anniversary and 100,00th student served in 2017, over half of which are from low-income families. To put this into perspective, Sierra Nevada Journeys now serves 20 percent of the total elementary students across five counties in northwestern Nevada every year.

Classrooms Unleashed, one of Sierra Nevada Journey's school-based programs, is an outdoor science education program with three in-class lessons and one field study at a local nature area. It uses hands-on, experiential, and outdoor education as a framework for young people to study, think, and learn. Classrooms Unleashed is aligned to state and national standards and the Northern American Association for Environmental Education Guidelines for Excellence. External evaluation by the University of Nevada's Center for Program Evaluation showed that in 2016, five percent more students at schools that participate in Sierra Nevada Journeys' programming score at the proficient level on the State Science assessment than students at comparison schools. During the same year, the Classrooms Unleashed program was delivered to 6,800 students in Northern Nevada.

Thank you to all who have helped grow our Classrooms Unleashed program - staff, volunteers, community and financial partners, and our trustees. Congratulations to all the other outstanding individuals and organizations that were nominated!

Enjoy a few photos from the night!

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 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.

Sandra A. Daugherty Foundation receives 2016 AFP Outstanding Foundation Cornerstone Award

Sierra Nevada Journeys was ecstatic when one of its generous and committed funding partners, the Sandra A. Daugherty Foundation, was named the 2016 Outstanding Foundation by the Sierra Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals at its Cornerstone Awards & Philanthropy Day luncheon on Friday, Nov. 11.

The Outstanding Foundation award recognizes a foundation with an established track record of charitable contributions in the community, one that promotes innovation and sound management practices in the nonprofit sector, and is a true community partner.

Since 2001, the Daugherty Foundation has been tirelessly committed to improving science, technology, engineering and math - or STEM - education and supporting excellence in the teaching of science and medicine. In line with their mission, the Foundation has initiated and funded numerous innovative pilot programs in our area.

The Daugherty Science Internship is a partnership between the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Education, the College of Science and the nominating group, Sierra Nevada Journeys. This internship program provides high-quality, deep science education and scientific research practicum to six University of Nevada, Reno student teachers annually.

The Foundation also began a state-of-the-art STEM and Art (or STEAM) Program with the Nevada Museum of Art and Sierra Nevada Journeys.

The Daugherty Summer Science Experience program exposes middle school students from low socio-economic backgrounds to science and scientists. Participants spend a week on the University of Nevada, Reno campus with College of Science faculty and graduate students. The program also serves as professional development for Washoe County school teachers as they accompany the students during the week-long program.

Also recognized at the event was Christina Hale, volunteer field educator with Sierra Nevada Journeys. Christina was named a Spirit of Giving honoree for her enthusiastic dedication to providing science education to children.

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.