10 years of programming provides free access to forests and memories of a lifetime
For many people, visits to the young forest of Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park in Oakland are lovely escapes close to the city. For Alejandro, trips to this place were profound. Alejandro recently visited Reinhardt with Youth Spirit Artwork (YSA), a recipient of a Redwood Connect Grant from Save the Redwoods League. YSA empowers homeless and low-income teens and young adults from the San Francisco Bay Area. Participants join community-building retreats to learn nonviolent communication, Indigenous healing practices, and the use nature for self-care, while connecting with the delights of the redwood forest.
“I was able to create new relationships with my community,” Alejandro says. “Each trip fostered a new memory of a lifetime. I personally loved how we were able to find refuge in the woods while learning about its wonders. I was able to feel safe and make mistakes because these trips were facilitated with the intention of everyone’s well-being and safety. I say with love and grace: Thank you for changing how I view the world and myself.”
To make experiences like these possible, Save the Redwoods League has focused its education program on firsthand redwoods experiences for the past 10 years. We bring youths into redwood and giant sequoia forests, often for their first time, through our redwood education programs and our Redwood Connect Grants.
Free field trips
League education programs provide a free curriculum and field trips for K-12 students. We have always made it a priority to provide free access to the redwoods for all communities. With the high cost of buses, we never want transportation to be a barrier for students to experience redwood forests. While on these field trips, students participate in a variety of activities including collecting scientific data, identifying plants, investigating creeks, building habitats, hiking, having fun, and enjoying peaceful moments alone. Giving students an opportunity to sit alone, and be quiet in nature has proven to be extremely beneficial. These “solo sits” are a part of almost every trip we lead.
Our students had an amazing time on this field trip!! Today, many of them asked me to send the information about Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park to their parents so that they could take a trip there with their families! So many students were talking about how much they want to go back. I won’t forget my students getting off the bus and seeing them immediately feel very peaceful. One of my students right away said, “It feels so good to be in nature.” These are the kinds of memories and experiences that are so special to our students, and I thank you and your organization for the work you are doing!
—Fourth-grade teacher, East Oakland Pride Elementary School
Grants for outdoor adventures
Our Redwood Connect Grants are another opportunity for nonprofits, schools, and community groups to provide redwoods experiences for their youths. Our grants support trips for residential outdoor schools, staff team building, summer camps, and redwoods restoration. Grantees shape their activities and events so they can best engage and serve their community. All the grant projects must have a field component so that youths will experience the redwoods firsthand.
Gratitude from grantees
Feedback from our grantees shows the impact of our programs.
“I am writing this email to express my sincere gratitude for the resources that Save the Redwoods League generously provided, enabling sponsored trips to Muir Woods. Your support has provided the students with life-enriching experiences, encouraging personal growth, fostering a love for outdoor exploration, and nurturing their understanding of our delicate ecosystem. It is through contributions such as yours that we are able to foster a stronger connection between individuals and our environment, building an invaluable sense of environmental responsibility in the process. Your generosity has made a profound impact, and for this, we cannot thank you enough.”
—Omar Chavez, Muir Woods ranger
“It was a wonderful experience, building stronger connections with our youths, up in the redwoods, seeing the youths challenge themselves, try something new, and connect with each other outside.”
—Education manager, First Place for Youth
“Can’t say it enough, but thank you for making this field trip happen for us! For some parents who struggle financially, this gives them the chance to do activities that they wouldn’t normally do with their children. We’re truly grateful to collaborate with you all! Exploring the San Lorenzo River was a phenomenal journey, for sure!”
—Ivonne Silva, Nueva Vista Community Resources
Ten years is just the beginning! With exciting initiatives like Outdoors for All and California’s 30×30, which support increased and more equitable access to the outdoors, the League is poised to continue the work we started over 10 years ago. We will work to provide and support free, firsthand, extraordinary experiences for youths in our redwood and giant sequoia forest for years to come.
To learn more and support our work, visit our Education Programs page.
By the numbers: 10 years of youths in the redwoods
League field trips
- 170 trips
- Participants: 11,527
- Percentage of low-income students: 60%
- Percentage of students of color: 70%
Redwood Connect Grants focusing on low-income youths, young people of color and Indigenous communities
- 195 grants
- Participants: 60,772
- California counties: 21