There is a non-profit agency in Northern Nevada and Northern California that has caught my attention by providing a unique and educational experience to our youth. This company provides experience in leadership, science and outdoor programs, and they inspire concern for our environment and empower future leaders to build relationships and gain a sense of community. They are building the knowledge of our future leaders and for that, I believe they are more than worthy of earning the title of my small business of the week.
Sierra Nevada Journeys has a mission to “empower youth through positive risk-taking and experiential leadership, science and outdoor education.” Since its inception in 2006 this organization has serviced over 6,000 students and 500 teachers through the power of science education. Lianna Glodt, Vice President of Development and Marketing explains how they accomplish their mission, “Sierra Nevada Journeys offers a range of school outreach programs, residential outdoor education experiences and professional development opportunities for educators to complement their classroom learning and expose students to the environment and their natural world.”
Three things noteworthy that Sierra Nevada Journeys is providing that helps shape our future are:
1. Education – Not every child learns in the same way. Through our current system of preparing kids and measuring their performance through standardized testing, we are not accurately gauging the potential of the future leaders of our nation. Sierra Nevada Journeys is taking a new approach that allows children to spark their creativity and learn through a hands-on environment. They are molding scientists with a concern for our environment that will lead to a greater awareness of our community and our planet.
2. Leadership – By engaging children in group activities and forming relationships with mentors concerned about their future, SNJ is building leadership skills in children who may lack a diversified group of role models. Nitin Kohli, Vice President of Finance and Administration and I discussed how some of the programs work. He told me that, once the children in the program reach a specific age, they can volunteer to assist at the camps and activities. In my opinion, this takes these kids one step beyond the initial program and empowers them, at an early age, to become mentors themselves and learn the value of helping others.
3. Environment – Here is an interesting story Lianna told me about how this organization got started: “Upon seeing Lake Tahoe for the first time, a 6th grade student asked, ‘Are their sharks in this ocean?’ Although this statement may seem humorous at first, this comment then revealed the stark reality that many children don’t get outdoors enough, and thus do not have a connection to their natural world and science as a whole. After hearing this statement, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Jonathan Mueller was inspired to create Sierra Nevada Journeys.”
How can we expect our youth to be concerned about our environment if they know so little about it? If we intend to protect our precious resources and sustain the earth for many generations to come, we must start now in educating our children about the outdoors and how we can prevent the harmful effects our consumption has on this planet.
The programs through Sierra Nevada Journeys are available to all students in our area, regardless of economic hardship. They have never turned away a child based on funding. They diligently work with schools and families to ensure that all children can attend their programs. Due to the nature of their business model, this exceptional organization can use our community’s help. I urge you to visit their website at www.sierranevadajourneys.org to find out more about their goals in our community. Please also take a look at their page titled: Get Involved. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities and a wish list of items they could use from generous donations of individuals who would like to help their mission. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about this commendable cause!