Into the Wild

WildLink Expeditions give students the opportunity to experience wilderness firsthand. Since August 2000, more than a thousand students have discovered the wonder of the Sierra Nevada. Students are chosen from high schools and community programs located on the flanks of Yosemite in the Central Valley, Eastern Sierra, and San Francisco Bay Area. On six-day backpacking expeditions, students learn about the natural world first-hand, challenge themselves, and gain an understanding and appreciation for wild places.

Students explore their place in the wilderness; how their actions impact our environment; environmental science through hands-on research projects; the cultural history of Yosemite and their surrounding areas; geographical history; natural history; and possibilities for all of our futures. Students learn what they can do as individuals while developing teamwork and leadership. They will meet other students from different social and cultural backgrounds and will learn to work together to meet the social, philosophical and physical challenges of wilderness. Follow the links or visit the archives to read excerpts from student journals and view photographs of recent expeditions.

Words From the Field

"In the beginning of this trip I was regretting agreeing to come on this trip. I felt like physically I couldn’t do it and also because of how people reacted to me coming. It was hard the first day. I was crying a lot on the way up. Day two I made it to the top and was very satisfied with myself and the experience. Being here has made me appreciate everything that has been given to me and my family. It was way harder that I thought but I made it and it makes me feel so accomplished, so free, so strange, and so alive. I no longer regret coming. I also will never forget the view or the way I felt standing up on the top of Cloud’s Rest. I wish to remember the people I shared this experience with and this wonderful mountain. It will be in my heart always as a symbol of my strength and happiness."

Our Latest Program in 2016-17 School Year

WildLink Roundup - Fall 2016

Fall was ever busy with incredible students, teachers, weather and wild places to explore. We are constantly seeking new ways to offer trip reports and updates from WildLink expeditions and events. Here is the latest version we are trying out! Please enjoy a brief description of each of the expeditions that took place this fall, along with some beautiful quotes from students and fun pictures, highlighting the trips. Let us know what you think about this new layout on our facebook page:

www.facebook.com/wildlinkprogram

  • Venture Academy Family Schools, September 11-16 - Wonderful students from Venture Academy braved rain, hail and snow during their expedition to May Lake and Mt. Hoffman. These students learned the importance of community and discussed how every person within a community brings out a certain piece of each individual. They concluded that in order to truly be yourself, you need friends and family surrounding you. They were taken aback by the beauty of the high country during their expedition. One student wrote this in her journal "It's our final morning with fresh breeze, beautiful scenery, and great times. It's a bittersweet feeling, though, because I will miss this place so much, but I have to go back and tell everyone they need to take a step in their beautiful backyard. I'm relaxing by May Lake and it's breathtaking. I've shared so many memories and laughs with new friends I made and I hope it doesn't end here. I love the challenges all the hikes bring. I love trying to fight the cold, sitting around the campfire, I will definitely be back. So it's really not a goodbye, but more of a see you soon"

  • Kingsburg High School, September 25-30 - 2 WildLink alumni helped usher 11 new students into their week long adventure in Yosemite Valley and Cathedral Lakes. One student took time to appreciate what this time in the Wilderness has helped her realize. She writes in her journal, "The...concept that has really struck me so far this trip is that I am capable of so much more than I think I am. My mindset will determine whether I make something incredible and difficult happen. Whether I can accomplish a huge feat or not. So I need to be kinder to myself...In the middle of a hike, you can't just decide it's too hard and stop on the trail. In day-to-day life it is way easier to just stop in the middle...when circumstances seem too difficult. You have to keep going anyways. You can do whatever you put your mind to. it's a truth I am so grateful to have discovered"

  • Turlock and Pitman High Schools, October 9-15 - explored the Merced River Valley and Cloud's Rest during their expedition in October. In their words, "We went on a hike along the Merced River. The trail took us through a burnt forest that provided its own natural beauty quite different from the rest of the park. Through the charred remains of the forest that once was, new life is beginning. Succession is more obvious in some places, but the land endured as a whole. Coming towards the end of our river cuts across an emerges this beautifully colored rock split by this awe-inspiring waterfall that made everything worth it"

  • Health Careers Academy, October 23-28 - Our newest WildLink school Just completed their first expedition to Little Yosemite Valley. They learned about technology Wilderness Rangers use while they are on patrol, as well as the importance of stewardship in connecting to wild places. When Liu was asked to reflect on things he would both like from the group and to give to the group he wrote, "What I would contribute to the group is the stillness of the water where I am sitting. I mean I like the waters flowing and all of what nature offers, but looking at still barely moving water is more of my type. Everyone is like water, when they are calm, the water doesn’t move or barely moves. But when we get other emotions such as happiness or anger, the water flows dangerously and quickly. What I would take from the group is that we are all going through life just like stepping stones, you may fall on some uneven rock, but we always know to get back up or have some peoples in our life to give us a hand to stand up and start walking again"

Now, please enjoy pictures highlighting the expeditions of Venture Academy, Kingsburg, Turlock/Pitman and Health Careers Academy!

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Venture Academy students meeting and hugging Ranger Shelton Johnson

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Venture Academy with Ranger Shelton

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All smiles at May Lake!

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Venture Academy soaking up the last bit of sunshine at May Lake

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Kingsburg students explore Cathedral Lakes and Cloud's Rest

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Kingsburg HS staying warm at Cathedral Lakes

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Kingsburg students had the best view of Cathedral Peak from their campsite

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Awesome exploration with Kingsburg HS

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Kingsburg HS students enjoying the high country meadows

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Turlock/Pitman students on top of Cloud's Rest

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Turlock/Pitman romping through the Wilderness on their challenge hike

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Turlock/Pitman students huddling to keep warm on a windy Cloud's Rest

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Turlock/Pitman breaking down and building up their communication skills

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Turlock/Pitman posing one last time atop Cloud's Rest

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Health Careers Academy by the mighty Merced River

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Health Careers Academy sharing a smile, story and laughs with Ranger Shelton Johnson

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Health Careers Academy students posing in a recently burned area in Little Yosemite Valley

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Health Careers Academy celebrating success on their expedition

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Health Careers Academy taking a break by the river

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Health Careers Academy hiking to Little Yosemite Valley with Wilderness Ranger Shawn Turner

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Finally home, heads and hearts full of memories, hands full of NatureBridge posters and dreams building of a better natural world. Thanks for checkout out our Fall WildLink Expeditions. Stay tuned for updates on Wilderness Ambassador Projects these incredible students are planning...

WildLink is a proud partner of the National Park Service, National Forest Service, and Nature Bridge.