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Yosemite Leadership Program Offers Unique Student Opportunity

March 28, 2007

It´s the college experience many students dream of – whitewater rafting, horseback riding, cave exploration and even learning how to make a living in the great outdoors.

All this and more will be available at UC Merced beginning this fall.

The Yosemite Leadership Program is a unique learning experience that combines campus educational resources with the country´s most magnificent landscapes at Yosemite and Kings Canyon and Sequoia national parks.

Students selected for the program will participate in outings with the Campus Recreation program, educational visits to UC Merced’s Wawona Field Station (part of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute). They may also participate as interns with the National Park Service or with Delaware North, a commercial hospitality-and-food-service company that operates hotels, gift shops and getaways at Yosemite and other locations.

“ As far we know, Yosemite Leadership is a unique program,” said David Dunham, campus recreation director. “It provides networking for all types of future careers.”

Nine students will work as National Park Service interns this summer, Dunham said, and that’s just the beginning. The program offers more than vocational training in parks and resorts. Its real mission is to foster leadership skills, environmental stewardship and service.

The program is not targeted at a specific area,” Dunham said. “The goal of the program is to help create future leaders who are environmentally aware. Whether the student plans on being a biologist or a psychology major, there is something to take away from this program.”

Currently, only one class connected with the program is offered for credit. But even without academic credit, there is a huge advantage: For most trips, Yosemite Leadership Program members will not have to pay additional fees. Costs, if there are any, will be low, thanks to funding from gifts and department budgets.

In addition to the National Park Service, Delaware North and UC Merced, the program is sponsored by Yosemite National Park and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

Students may apply online. For more information, contact David Dunham at (209) 228-7732 or visit