Grizzly Creek Ranch

100 Young Women to Attend Girls in STEM Camp at Grizzly Creek Ranch

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RENO, Nev. — November 6, 2018 — Over the weekend of Nov. 9, we’ll be hosting 100 girls, ages 10-to-14-years-old, to take their love of STEM to the next level. This innovative partnership brings industry and nonprofits together creating a jam-packed weekend at Grizzly Creek Ranch.

Using Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada and Sierra Nevada Journeys’ STEM programming, and Women in Tesla volunteers, this weekend camp is sure to inspire and ignite. More than 30 volunteers will support Sierra Nevada Journeys’ educators in STEM activities ranging from building geodomes to testing their skills on our challenge course.  

Additionally, thanks to the donation of a 100 robot kits by REC Foundation, Friday evening’s activities will kick off with each camper building a working robot. As part of REC’s VEX IQ Curriculum, the young women will follow assembly instructions, build, document their process, and then test the finished robots.

Moreover, the Girls in STEM Camp is paid for by a grant awarded by Tesla to Sierra Nevada Journeys, as part of their initial Nevada K-12 Education Investment Fund and there was no cost for the 100 students to attend camp other than a $25 registration processing fee. The investment by Tesla focuses on Nevada K-12 STEM and sustainability education as part of the Nevada DoE Education Gift Fund.

“We were thrilled that Tesla selected Sierra Nevada Journeys to help deliver outdoor science education to children — especially for low-income and under-served students,” said Eaton Dunkelberger, Sierra Nevada Journeys CEO. “With this investment, we hope that experiences such as the Girls in STEM Camp, could change the life trajectories of these young women and inspire future careers in the STEM field.”

Bowen Cardoza and Regina Stanback Stroud join Sierra Nevada Journeys’ Board of Trustees

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RENO, Nev. — October 19, 2018 — Sierra Nevada Journeys announces the appointment of two new board members of its Board of Trustees, Bowen Cardoza and Regina Stanback Stroud, RN, Ed.D.

Cardoza of Modesto, California is president of the family-owned Cardoza Corporation and vice president at CoSol Commercial Real Estate where he’s involved in the sales and leasing of industrial and office properties throughout the western United States. He founded and served as chairman of Stanislaus County’s Capital Club, currently the president of Miracle League of Stanislaus County and past chair of Sierra Vista Child & Family Services in Modesto. He has served on a variety of boards including Howard Training Center, Opportunity Stanislaus, and Memorial Hospital Foundation.

“Community involvement has always been a part of my life. I feel it’s terribly important to be active in our community whether is philanthropically or being hands on for a specific cause like Sierra Nevada Journeys. I hope to demonstrate the importance of community involvement to my kids, just like my parents did for me,” said Cardoza.

Dr. Stroud is president of Skyline College in San Bruno, California and has been an educator in California community colleges for more than 25 years. Under her leadership Skyline College became a National STEMconnector, a consortium of private and public entities committed to increasing the number of STEM-ready works in the global talent pool. Additionally, she serves on the STEM Higher Education Council of STEMconnector as part of the Diversity Committee. 

Dr. Stroud began as a professor of nursing at then named, Rancho Santiago College of Santa Ana. She went on to become the dean of workforce and economic development at Mission College in Santa Clara and the vice president of instruction at Skyline College. Stroud is highly regarded at local and national levels for her knowledge and perspective on student equity and diversity; education and industry collaboratives; community workforce and economic development; and regional and state system policy implications for successful programs and services. 

“I look forwarding to bringing my experience on diversity, equity and inclusion to Sierra Nevada Journeys, as they continue to refine their programs to resonate with the highest need youth that they serve,” said Dr. Stroud.

“Cardoza’s experience in real estate and operating a deep-rooted history of his family company, will be immensely valuable as we kick off our capital campaign to purchase Grizzly Creek Ranch in Portola, California — located north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains,” said Eaton Dunkelberger, CEO of Sierra Nevada Journeys.

“Additionally, Stroud’s expertise in building partnership among education and industry will help us create innovation in our programs and strengthen our ability to mint new STEM workers at an early age said Dunkelberger. “We look forward to the addition of our exciting board leadership as we continue to grow our programs and their impact on building the next generation of leaders, scientists and stewards across northern California and Nevada.”

For additional information about Sierra Nevada Journeys, call 775-355-1688 or visit sierranevadajourneys.org. Here’s a complete list of current 2018/19 board members.   

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

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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 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.  

National Wildlife Federation Certifies New Wildlife Habitat in Portola, CA

Portola, CA (Dec. 14, 2016) — The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, is pleased to recognize that Sierra Nevada Journeys’ campus at Grizzly Creek Ranch in Portola, CA has successfully created a Certified Wildlife Habitat® through its Garden for Wildlife program. NWF celebrates the efforts of Sierra Nevada Journeys to create a garden space that improves habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs and other wildlife by providing essential elements needed by all wildlife – natural food sources, clean water, cover and places to raise young. Certification also makes your Certified Wildlife Habitat® part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a national effort to restore critical habitat for pollinators.

“We are so excited to have another passionate wildlife gardener join us and create a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Over the last 40 years, nearly 200,000 wildlife gardeners have joined NWF’s Garden for Wildlife movement and helped restore wildlife habitat right in their own yards and neighborhoods,” said Dave Mizejewski, naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. “Whether you garden in a suburban yard, an apartment balcony or a 10-acre farm, a schoolyard or a business park, or anything in between, everyone can create a home for local wildlife. Turning your space into a Certified Wildlife Habitat is fun, easy and makes a big difference for neighborhood wildlife,” he added.

“We have a terrific campus and work to preserve and enhance the wildlife whose home we share,” said Mark Owen, campus executive director of Grizzly Creek Ranch. 

Sierra Nevada Journeys’ 1,500-acre campus at Grizzly Creek Ranch is home to many plants and animals. To name a few, a black bear, bobcats, whooping crane, osprey, bald eagles, rainbow trout, leopard frogs, hawks, a multitude of song birds and water fowl such as coots, mallards, blue heron and grebes. The campus is vegetated primarily by Jefferson or yellow pine trees as well as incense-cedars and sugar pines. The forest floor blossoms yellow and blue with mullein, mule’s ear and lupine. 

Sierra Nevada Journeys takes particular care to conserve and preserve this habitat for visiting youth. “The objective for them is to see nature and its inhabitants in their original, pristine condition,” said Owen. “Through observation, youth are then introduced to scientific principles and methods to transform what they see, smell and touch into ways to understand, communicate and engage with the world around them.”

NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program encourages responsible gardening that helps pollinators and other wildlife thrive. It encourages planting with native species like milkweed and discouraging chemical pesticide use. With nearly 200,000 locations and growing, NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitats and Community Wildlife Habitats recognize individuals, schools, groups and whole communities committed to providing habitat for wildlife, including pollinators. Each of the nearly 200,000 certified locations provide food, water, cover and places to raise young. This makes yards, schools, businesses, places of worship, campuses, parks, farms and other community-based landscapes into wildlife sanctuaries. For more information on gardening for wildlife and details on how an entire community can become certified, visit www.nwf.org/habitat or call 1-800-822-9919.

Sierra Nevada Journeys' Grizzly Creek Ranch Campus is ACA Accredited

Sierra Nevada Journeys’ Grizzly Creek Ranch has been ACA accredited since 2011.

For over 50 years, the American Camp Association (ACA) has been offering many services to camps; one of which is an accreditation program. “The main purpose of the ACA-accreditation program is to educate camp owners and directors in the administration of key aspects of camp operation, particularly those related to program quality and the health and safety of campers and staff. The standards establish guidelines for needed policies, procedures, and practices. The camp, then, is responsible for ongoing implementation of these policies.” (American Camp Association, n.d.)

The standards address all aspects of camp operation and are organized into six categories:

  1. Site –  Food service, maintenance
  2. Transportation – Drivers, vehicle safety
  3. Health and Wellness – Medication distribution, staff qualifications
  4. Operational Management – Safety regulations, emergency communication systems
  5. Human Resources - Staff training, supervision ratios
  6. Program Activities – Aquatics, trips, horseback riding

This is just a sample of the specifics covered in each category.

How does a camp become accredited? First, the camp submits an initial application. The director(s) then attend (or take the online version) a standards course. They review and evaluate each area of camp according to the standards using the ACA’s Accreditation Process Guide. The directors prepare documents and written materials required by the standards. ACA trained visitors then visit the camp for a day during the camp season. They observe camp and work with the directors to determine compliance with the standards. To maintain accreditation, the camp must demonstrate ongoing compliance by submitting an annual narrative report (Annual Accreditation Report) and hosting ACA visitors at least once every five years.

There are many benefits to being accredited. All accredited camps are listed on the ACA Camp Database, which is a valuable resource for the public to use in selecting a camp that meets industry and government standards and regulations. There are endless resources available for camp staff. The ACA offers the monthly magazine, “Camping Magazine”, national and local conferences, round-the-clock support during the summer season via the Crisis Hotline, and research on camp practices conducted with experts in the field (American Academy of Pediatrics and American Red Cross).  It is a great way to connect with others in the industry regarding new training and program ideas or new challenges camps face. The website offers specifics on state-by-state regulations and lists local authorities who can help ensure legislative compliance. “The American Camp Association (ACA) accreditation process has grown to keep pace with changes in the camp industry, expectations of the public, and the challenges of operating a business in today’s highly regulated society” (American Camp Association, n.d.)

Sierra Nevada Journeys' Grizzly Creek Ranch has been accredited since 2011. Our Campus Executive Director, Program Director and Director of Operations diligently maintain this accreditation and use the standards as a means to establish best practices for all our programs.


References

American Camp Association.  (n.d.)  American Camp Association accreditation…tell me more.  Retrieved from http://www.acacamps.org/sites/default/files/page_documents/membership/Accreditation-Tell-Me-More.pdf

American Camp Association (n.d)  Accreditation. Retrieved from http://www.acacamps.org/staff-professionals/accreditation-standards/accreditation