students atop redwoodPurpose:

Volumes of peer‐reviewed research have emphasized the importance of connecting young people with nature, and the influence this contact has in the development of community‐orientated, conservation‐minded adults. The VWA’s Youth in Wilderness program builds a foundation for healthy lifestyles, community leadership, problem‐solving skills and conservation ethics by providing outdoor education to local students on the public lands of the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness areas.


The mission of the Youth in Wilderness (YiW) program is to inspire, educate and motivate future generations of central California's wilderness advocates and stewards. Supported by preparatory classroom visits, YiW organizes, outfits and leads young people in central California on hikes and multi‐day wilderness backpacking expeditions. These life‐changing experiences are provided at no cost to participants.


Through July of 2016, VWA’s Youth in Wilderness program has led 2,014 local young people on 98 hikes and expeditions. Participating students received 7,022 hours of customized outdoor education and contributed 7,888 hours of public lands stewardship.  Despite much-appreciated grant funding from foundations, corporations and individuals, additional funding is needed to increase the number of students served by this critical program. To learn more about how you can support the program, please contact us at or at (831) 423-3191. For more pictures, videos and updates on the Youth in Wilderness Program, please visit the program’s Facebook page.


Arkay Foundation
The Cleo Foundation
Community Foundation Santa Cruz County
The McKay Fund at the Community Foundation for Monterey County
Paul and Margaret Danielson
The Dean Witter Foundation
Fernandez Pave the Way Foundation
Tom and Julie Anne Hopkins
Monterey Peninsula Foundation
Norcross Foundation
The North Face Explore Fund
Pebble Beach Company Foundation
Farrell/Allen Carmel Rotary Fund at the Community Fund for Monterey County
Save the Redwoods League

In addition, we’d like to thank the hundreds of individual supporters who have
contributed time, gear and financial resources towards the success of the program!