Leadership Initiatives

YiW understands that the environmental conservation and outdoor recreation communities need to become increasingly more accessible, inclusive, and representative of our country's shifting demographic. YiW aims to help move the needle by empowering a younger, more diverse generation of environmental stewards, recreationists, and advocates. To this end YiW launched two exciting long-term program initiatives in late 2017-early 2018:


(1) YiW Student Leadership Initiative (SLI): Many participants who join a YiW Outing fall in love with public lands and outdoor recreation. They experience the positive effects of time spent in the outdoors, discover a natural leadership voice, and have a desire to keep on getting out there. Simply put, they get it and they keep on joining trip after trip. SLI identifies these promising candidates and provides them a pathway to potential employment as program Field Instructors (FIs). Once a SLI candidate, participants have an opportunity to join and work closely with the YiW Leadership team, attend more Outings as a Co-Lead trainee, and eventually earn their way to a paid position as a YiW FI. The ultimate vision of success is a participant who begins their outdoor recreation journey as a program participant and who one day becomes a YiW FI, leading Outings for the youth from their own communities. Here is the 2018 SLI Class! (Note: Daniela Cervantes is now the leader of the entire Youth in Wilderness program. The initiative works!)

SLI candidates 2018

(Clockwise from top left: Daniela Cervantes (Greenfield), Ruby Diaz (Greenfield), Estefani Hernandez (Seaside), and Daniel Morales (Greenfield))


(2) YiW Community Leader Training Initiative (CLTI): The goal of YiW's CLTI is two-fold: (1) to recruit, hire, and train community leaders as program Field Instructors so that they are empowered to be environmental advocates and educators within their own communities and (2) to continually increase representation of the communities we serve within our program and in so doing, increase our capacity to better represent the values of the communities we serve. We are actively recruiting more leaders! Contact Program Manager Daniela Cervantes at  or call 831-423-3191.


(3) YiW Leadership Community Day Hikes: In the summer of 2018, YiW convened a diverse cohort of passionate outdoor educators and allies for a dayhike at the Arroyo Seco Gorge. The purpose of this convening was to strengthen community between like-minded peers and to start a conversation around more holistic and culturally relevant outdoor education program design. Though not a new frontier in the Bay Area/Central California region, this was a first of its kind convening for the VWA and YiW. The cohort was made up of YiW Field Instructors, YiW Community Partner representatives, past program participants, and a VWA Director. They enjoyed a dayhike on the Arroyo Seco-Indians Fire Road, had lunch along the Arroyo Seco River, broke out into small discussion groups to tackle specific questions regarding outdoor education program design, and came back together to share highlights of their small group discussions. The dayhike ended with a refreshing dip at the Arroyo Seco Gorge! When COVID is properly defeated and things ge tback to normal we plan to greatly increase field activities exclusely for the outdoor educator community. Stay tuned!

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If you know of any candidates who you feel would be a good fit for our Leadership Initiatives or you would like to learn more about participating in one of the above initiatives, please contact Program Manager Daniela Cervantes at  or call 831-423-3191.