fellowship (13)

  • Welcoming Our 2017 Fellows

    The Institute at the Golden Gate is excited to introduce you to the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders Class of 2017! Gabriela and Maria joined our team last week and are already working hard on their respective projects. We've asked both of them to share a little bit about themselves and discuss why they wanted to participate in our Fellowship for Emerging Leaders. Keep an eye on our blog for updates from them about their projects.

    Gabriela Estrada, Urban Fellow

    My interest in the kind of work that this fellowship offers originally arose from many instances where I did not see inclusivity being the norm. It grew from my observations of different spaces not allowing for everyone’s needs to be met. This lack of inclusivity, I noticed, was especially present in the environmental realm and underprivileged communities. However, I was never quite sure how to go about approaching these situations and spaces. It took different mindful spaces, different mentors and their guidance to make me realize that I could become a positive change maker. It was through my development in this area that I was determined to take the knowledge I gained in order to create positive inclusive change in the community. As a result, I knew that after graduating college, I wanted a career where people’s needs were being met regardless of their socio-economic condition.

    Due to this, applying to the urban fellowship was in many ways an interesting mental process. I could not believe that a lot of the pivotal points that I hoped my new career interests would include, could be so present. This fellowship offered the opportunity to actively take an inclusive approach to very human needs with the aim of creating solutions for the homeless population who are down on their luck. Through the application and interview process I found myself more and more invested and eager to see what direction this project would take.

    During my time here, I hope to be able to complete the project successfully and make a positive impact in the community through the work that I do. I hope that my blind idealism will carry me through this project and that by the end I will have something tangible that will go beyond a simple idea of equity in the parks system. Additionally, through the length of the fellowship, I look forward to the wonderful professional development opportunities and people that I will meet and learn from.

    Maria Eller, Climate Education Fellow

    When I visited San Francisco for the first time, I was dumbstruck by the fog. “Look at those low, fast-moving clouds,” I exclaimed before someone explained to me what it was. The fog was as awe-inspiring to me as the Golden Gate Bridge is for others. You see, I lived in Arizona for most of my life- a native of the Sonoran Desert. I am familiar with cacti, monsoon storms, and summer days where the temperature reaches 110+ degrees. The Grand Canyon was the beloved national park of the area and my favorite place to hike with my family. Perhaps from such time outdoors and my family’s value of nature, I developed a growing passion for conservation and education. This led me to study sustainability and work in environmental education at Arizona State University. Yet, as I was approaching graduation, I was overwhelmed by the possible careers that my sustainability degree opened to me. What I was certain of was my desire to be positioned around a diversity of work while making a tangible difference.

    Now a few years later, I am back in San Francisco becoming reacquainted with Karl the Fog because I found such an opportunity with the Institute at the Golden Gate. The Climate Education program has been doing important work on using the park to communicate climate change and to overcome barriers that limit climate education in the informal setting. As the climate education fellow, I am excited to contribute to this work with the Bay Area Climate Literacy Impact Collaborative (BayCLIC). My project is to collaborate with BayCLIC partners in the planning and facilitation of science and education seminars. The seminars will bring together local researchers and informal educators to highlight local climate science. I feel so empowered and motivated to share my previous learning experiences with BayCLIC and to expand our awareness of climate change in the Bay Area together.

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  • Calling Emerging Leaders to Join our Team!

    It’s that time of year again – the Institute is hiring our next cohort of Emerging Leader Fellows!

    Are you starting out in your career and interested in exploring how parks can help solve some of society’s biggest challenges? Are you looking for an opportunity to gain critical experience and skills, take ownership of your own project, and make an impact? If so, the Institute’s Fellowship for Emerging Leaders may be for you!

    Our Fellowship seeks to empower early career professionals by offering paid opportunities that support their development as future environmental and community leaders. Participants receive individualized mentorship and career coaching, participate in learning opportunities designed to increase their project management skills, and take ownership of specific projects, ultimately adding tangible products to their professional portfolio and supporting their career growth. Examples of previous fellowship projects include our Post to Park Transformations report and the Park Prescription webinar series.

    Maria Romero, 2016 climate fellow, presenting on her work

    The Institute intentionally seeks fellows with diverse perspectives and backgrounds to help explore new ways for parks to provide value to all communities. We strive to broaden and support the next generation of park leaders and advocates as well as to give to our fellows the opportunity to apply their creativity to the complex challenges that parks and communities face.

    But don’t just take my word for it. Here is what Lea Kassa, our 2016 health fellow, had to say about her experience with the Institute:

    My fellowship with the Institute was beneficial in so many ways. For me, it was the perfect segue into the working world after graduating from Cornell. It allowed me to develop essential professional skills like project management, business etiquette, public speaking, and facilitation to a degree I had never before experienced. What stands out most is how much responsibility and trust was instilled in me from day one. I felt truly valued and listened to as a part of the Institute’s Health program, which gave me the confidence to speak my mind and actively participate in and contribute to meetings.

    My experience with the Institute was also, without a doubt, a large part of the reason I ended my fellowship with two full-time job offers from other organizations. My manager was incredibly supportive throughout my job application and interview process and I had a wealth of experience from my fellowship to discuss during interviews. I have so much to thank the Institute for, and I know anyone who pursues this fellowship will feel the same way!

    If this sounds like an opportunity for you or someone you know, visit our website for more information and apply via our online application form following the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders: Climate Change Education or Fellowship for Emerging Leaders: Urban links. We look forward to hearing from you!

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  • Two Years On...

    Our first Health Fellow, Hector Zaragoza, shares with us what he has been up to over the past year since he wrote a guest blog post for us. He has gained valuable experience in the public sector since working at the Institute at the Golden Gate and we are excited to learn more about his work.

    It has been two years since I was the Health and Wellness Fellow at the Institute at the Golden Gate. Since then, I have been a Volunteer Coordinator for Canal Alliance, a local non-profit that provides services to recent immigrant arrivals, and more recently, a Public Benefits Specialist enrolling individuals in public assistance programs like CalFresh, CalWORKs, and Medi-Cal for the County of Marin. I’m also in the middle of applying to graduate school for a Master’s in Public Policy. At this point, I have worked for the private sector, the nonprofit sector, and now the public sector and one thing rings true: collaboration, data analysis and evaluation, ideation and iteration are all critical skills for tackling any issue. The Institute does an amazing job in cultivating these traits.

    My primary duty at the Department of Health and Human Services is to interpret the state and county regulations as they pertain to public assistance programs and determine a client's eligibility for them. Marin is traditionally associated with opulence but the lower-income community often goes unnoticed and to some extent, marginalized. The services we offer provide a lifeline to those in need. Many have been laid off, others are recent arrivals settling in to their new country, and many are simply trying to increase their competitiveness in the job market by going back to school and gaining new skills. The services are a stop-gap measure for them to find some stability on their way to self-reliance.

    In addition to this, I am actively participating in the evaluation process of redesigning the on-boarding process for new employees by providing direct feedback. Essentially, we are developing a blueprint and its complementary toolkit to make on-boarding of new staff a more seamless transition that enables them to become more effective in their work and develop a sense of solidarity with the organization's mission and each other. My experience going through the pilot-stage of its implementation has been critical in informing leadership of areas for improvement. I have also carried over the enthusiasm around the Healthy Parks Healthy People: Bay Area collaborative to my new office. Although we are fitted with ergonomic workstations (automated desks are the best!) we still suffer the consequences of office life. Therefore, I established the Mile Challenge. Each member of my immediate team is encouraged to track their distance covered in a day whether it be biking, walking, running, or even dancing. This information is gathered and displayed on a whiteboard in the office where we see our progress as we attempt to log all 3,252 miles between our office and the statue of liberty in New York. We’re almost there! 

    My third special project is creating tools to facilitate casework processing in a thorough and timely manner. This includes: advanced excel case management sheets, flow charts, timelines, and as part of my most innovative set, a “how-to” checklist infographic. I will also be taking part in the development and implementation of our outreach strategy by conducting community focus groups.

    All of these special projects are inspired by traits espoused and practiced at the Institute - go beyond your stipulated duties of the job description and have a deeper impact. Let the spirit of challenging convention guide you into unexplored territory that ultimately contributes to a more fulfilling professional life. So, how are you stepping outside your comfort zone?

    Hector Zaragoza
    (760) 333-9662

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  • The Institute is excited to introduce you to the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders Class of 2016! Lea and Maria recently joined our team here at the Institute at the Golden Gate and we are very happy to have them. We've asked both of them to share a few things about themselves so that we can all get to know them better...

    Growing up in Los Angeles, I was constantly reminded of how wonderful our environment is. Both of my parents were involved in the local park system, which led to my participation in tree-planting and beach-cleaning initiatives from a young age. Griffith Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the U.S., was a few minutes’ walk from my childhood home; the hilly terrain, winding trails, and untouched wilderness were my backyard and playground. This fostered a love of parks and the outdoors that I still have today. I was also fortunate to spend four years in Ithaca, known for its numerous gorges, waterfalls, and lush, green landscape (during the summer!).

    During my final semester at Cornell University, I was still wondering what in the world I wanted to do with my life. Meanwhile, it seemed as though everyone else had finalized their post-college plans months, even years, before graduation. Unrealistic as that notion was, the pressure to know exactly what one would be doing after leaving Cornell was palpable and undeniable. In the midst of my job search, the Health Fellow position with the Institute immediately caught my eye. In its description, I found my academic passion, public health, intertwined with my personal interest and devotion to public parks, nature, and the environment. The six-month fellowship also seemed like the perfect segue into the job market, allowing me to grow professionally before pursuing long-term job opportunities. I was sold! During my fellowship I will be focusing on two projects: creating a webinar series for the National ParkRx Initiative and assisting with Healthy Parks Healthy People: Bay Area. I am endlessly excited to be working at the intersection of public health and parks, and can’t wait to see where this fellowship will take me.

    Lea Kassa
    Health Fellow

    Hi, my name is Maria and I am the new Emerging Leaders, Climate Fellow for the Institute at the Golden Gate. I recently graduated from Simmons College in Boston where I majored in both environmental science and computer science. I was born and raised in San Francisco and I am so excited to be back at home! My past experience working at informal science institutions like the California Academy of Sciences and the Museum of Science in Boston has instilled in me a strong passion for science education. I became interested in this position because of its potential impact on the way educators teach climate change in the Bay Area.

    In addition to working with the Institute team, I will be working closely with the Bay Area Climate Literacy Impact Collaborative (Bay-CLIC) which is comprised of environmental educators focused on increasing climate literacy and action. Bay-CLIC has identified three initiatives which represent the needs of educators to better address climate change. From these initiatives, my project was created. Over the next few months, I will be creating a database for educators of scientific resources and data related to climate change. As an additional tool, I will be researching existing public engagement campaigns focused on behavior change. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Institute team and am looking forward to all of the learning I will do during this fellowship.

    Maria Romero
    Climate Fellow

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  • Reminiscing about our Fellows

    As we enter into our final week of recruiting for our next class of Emerging Leaders Fellows, I’ve been reflecting on the impact that the program has had on the Institute and the amazing influence that the individual fellows have had on our team.

    Hector Zaragoza and Ruth Pimentel were the intrepid members of our first Fellowship cohort. They joined the team knowing that they were part of our guinea pig year, willing to grow and learn with us as we went along. They helped us hone our fellowship curriculum, gave us critical feedback on designing fellowship projects, but most importantly showed us the life and energy that new team members can bring to our work. We had a great time with Hector and Ruth – helping them develop and implement their projects, taking park prescriptions around Fort Baker, making the occasional Friday after work trip to the yacht club, and even getting our hands dirty during a volunteer day that Ruth planned for us at Mountain Lake!

    Rhianna Mendez and Sophia Choi joined the Institute in our second year hosting the Fellowship. We like to think that we’d learned a bit about managing a fellowship by the second year, but as we tell the fellows, there’s always opportunity for growth and improvement. Rhianna and Sophia’s flexibility and positive attitude in the face of any challenge was truly inspirational for us. From a willingness to try new things (You’d like me to design and run a workshop on storytelling? Present my findings to a room full of partners? Sure! Why not?), to rolling with the punches as we sorted out the details of our office move, Rhianna and Sophia brought a curiosity and humor that was infectious. And of course we can’t forget the fashion sense and restaurant advice we gleaned from these two East-Coasters.

    We value our Fellowship program highly for the passion and energy that these emerging leaders bring to our team. And we make every effort to ensure that they get as much out of the experience as we do. Here are a few nuggets in their own words:

    The Institute is a hub of innovation and this instilled a sense of urgency in me to innovate through brainstorming sessions with colleagues or conversations by the “water cooler.” Whatever the challenge may be, the Institute provides the knowledge, resourcefulness, and confidence to go into uncharted territory and make your mark. 

    Working in a program that is centered around core values of partnership and collaboration gave me many opportunities to network with the amazing professionals of both the National Parks Service and the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy. Those people that I’ve met through this program have been career mentors and invaluable resources for support and advice as well.

    If you’re an emerging leader, we urge you to submit your application before the deadline this Friday, April 8!

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  • Post-to-Park Transformations

    Amidst a global rise in population, cities and urban areas are absorbing much of this growth, posing many challenges and questions. How do we conserve and rebuild the open spaces in our urban areas in ways that are sustainable and conducive to healthy lifestyles for diverse communities? This has become not only a topic of discussion for architects, urban designers, and planners but also a driving force in many new projects.

    It is especially an exciting time for these disciplines as well as its many cross-sector industries because the awareness of this societal challenge is no longer siloed to our cities’ builders; the awareness is resonating with the larger community as the diverse inhabitants of urban areas are experiencing the impact and consequences of rapid urban growth first hand.

    The challenges in creating spaces for diverse communities, paired with the challenges that come with working around the density of existing built structures have given way to some of the most creative and innovative urban park spaces today. Ranging from reclaimed industrial spaces, conservation of historic parks, to innovative infrastructure reuse projects, the new urban park is constantly being redefined as a result of the efforts of communities and industry leaders.

    The recent transitions of former military bases to public parklands provide critical examples of how local needs, community interests, and partnership opportunities ever present in cities can be leveraged to create engaging and sustainable urban parklands. Looking at Fort Baker and Crissy Field in the Bay Area, and Governors Island in New York, the Institute gained valuable insight on urban park planning and implementation. After conducting research and interviewing key stakeholders who helped create these parks, we collected our findings in our report, Post-to-Park Transformations: Case Studies and Best Practices for Urban Park Development.

    While many practical sustainable building practices are present in the parks of the case studies, we wanted to put our focus on the potential that diverse urban areas harbor to bring together people from different industries, experiences, and interests in order to implement great parks. We hope that this report and lessons learned could be used for innovation in the role of parks and public places in cities and encourage others to take advantage of the rich cultural fabric of urban centers to keep parks relevant, engaging, and beneficial to a changing and growing population.

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  • Where Are They Now?


    Photo credit: Canal Alliance

    Last week we introduced the new members of our Fellowship for Emerging Leaders program, and this week we wanted to share a firsthand account of life after the Institute fellowship. This guest blog post is by our very first Health Fellow – Hector Zaragoza. Hector shares with us his experience while working with the Institute at the Golden Gate and how it has helped him in his current position with the Canal Alliance.

    The Institute at the Golden Gate was an incredibly vibrant hub of busy bees navigating the uncertain roads of innovation. I was the Health and Wellness Fellow during the 2014-15 year and let me say that it proved essential to my success afterwards. As a convener and facilitator, it taught me the importance of listening to your stakeholders and providing a space for a wide range of voices to be heard and subsequently formulating a plan of action that reflects that.

    The workplace encourages creativity and trailblazing yet provides the comfort of a collaborative team willing to pitch in whenever and wherever duty calls. If anything, it harnesses your individual spark and refines it through teamwork. No idea is ever shot down, quite the contrary; the iterative nature of the work requires constantly finding new ways to do things along with an attitude that is never quite satisfied. You learn to deal with uncertainty and the ambiguity of first-of-their-kind projects. You will be challenged to step out of your comfort zone, but that’s ok, the team has your back.

    Flash forward a few months and I am now the Volunteer and Event Coordinator for Canal Alliance, a community resource agency dedicated to helping low-income, Spanish-speaking immigrants acquire the tools they need to thrive. Good thing for me is that I now have a toolkit from my work at the Institute that enables me to push boundaries at work. I am responsible for managing our volunteer base across our program areas that include: food distribution, immigration and legal services, English as a Second Language classes, and more. I also get the opportunity to organize events. The Institute is a hub of innovation and this instilled a sense of urgency in me to innovate through brainstorming sessions with colleagues or conversations by the “water cooler.” These informal sessions led me to redesign our intake process for volunteers to increase efficiency. I developed these interpersonal and teamwork skills at the Institute that continually lead us as a team to think “outside the box.” The Institute is also always on the lookout for new tools that can help improve their work. Here at Canal Alliance, I am now responsible for implementing the use of Smartsheets, a project management tool, within our department to increase productivity.

    Whatever the challenge may be, the Institute provides the knowledge, resourcefulness, and confidence to go into uncharted territory and make your mark.

    Hector Zaragoza
    Volunteer and Event Coordinator
    Canal Alliance

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  • Introducing our New Fellows

    The Institute is happy to announce the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders Class of 2015! Rhianna and Sophia have traveled across the United States to be a part of our team here at the Institute at the Golden Gate and we are delighted to have them. We'll turn this post over to them to tell you a bit about themselves, their motivation, and their fellowship projects...

    Introducing Rhianna Mendez

    Hi, my name is Rhianna and I have traveled across the country to be a part of the Institute at the Golden Gate team. I recently graduated from American University with a degree in Public Health. Serving as the Health Fellow, I will be detailing the story of Healthy Parks, Healthy People: Bay Area. Over the next 6 months I will be developing a report that documents where the collaborative started, what it has accomplished so far, and where it is going in the future. I am excited to sit down with change makers in the Bay Area and begin to better understand the impact that parks have on our community.

    The recent buzz surrounding public health has started to show people that health exists far beyond exposure to a bacterial or chemical agent. This emerging holistic view of health, encompassing both social and environmental factors, requires holistic solutions. I hope that my work will further highlight parks as a holistic and upstream solution to many of the problems our society faces today. Personally, parks have provided me with both a place to exercise and the space to ease my mind. Parks bring balance to my ever-changing life. I look forward to being able to give back to both parks and people through my work here at the Institute.

    Introducing Sophia Choi

    Hello, my name is Sophia Choi and I am the new Urban Fellow at the Institute. Just about two weeks ago I drove across the country from New York City in only six days! I am very new to the West Coast and am so lucky to have this opportunity to work for the Institute, so I can learn more about and explore the beautiful parks of the Bay Area.

    I just recently graduated from New York University with a degree in Architecture & Urban Planning. Through my academics, I grew passionate about rising urban challenges in major cities of the world as well as environmentalism and sustainability. I am beginning to discover that metropolitan cities and their public spaces and parks play a greater role than just improving lives of its residents – they are models for a sustainable future for both people and the environment.

    Here at the Institute, I will be working on a few projects. The first is a case study of post-to-park transformations, where I will be researching former military sites that have turned into successful parks. I will be assessing park planning, development, and engagement and identifying best practices to create a “how-to” guide for future park visionaries. The second part of my fellowship is storytelling research. Community engagement is extremely important for any urban discipline and effective storytelling will have an impact on education, awareness, and growth in any city. With my editorial experience and creativity, I will be researching methods in storytelling and using those methods to create a multimedia project on the story of Fort Baker.

    I am extremely excited to be in San Francisco, a beautiful city full of culture but also surrounded by the most wonderful parks and open spaces. And I am doubly excited for my upcoming projects at the Institute!

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  • Urban

    Final Fellowship Reflections

    The Institute’s first session of fellowships is coming to an end. Hector and I can’t believe how fast time has flown since we started in May. In our time with the team, we:

    • saw the Institute through a couple of rounds of hiring... and through the upheaval of replacing all the carpets
    • studied and practiced elements of project design, research, facilitation, public speaking, and communication strategy
    • spent time meeting staff and conducting research at parks as big as Yosemite and as small as Heron’s Head
    • attended Bay Area Open Space Council gatherings with hundreds of others in our field
    • spoke to and collaborated with kids in park programs, rangers, outreach specialists, big-picture theorists, horticulturists, donors, doctors, advisors, scientists, designers, publicists, and more
    • appreciated the Institute team’s choice not to use the term Emerging Leaders Fellowship as an excuse to call us each an “ELF”

    Hector’s work directly supported our Health program by designing curriculum and administering evaluations for  the Crissy Field Center as it began integrating health and wellness into its middle school program, and interviewing members of our health collaborative across the Bay Area. His efforts helped apply our park knowledge to improving health outcomes in specific, local communities.

    My work focused on research that honed in on a couple of specific topics relevant to urban parks, helping the Urban program develop expertise on how the most successful parks are engaging a more diverse audience as well as creating an army of stewards through life-changing internships. The road maps and guidelines I developed as a result of this research will help park leaders countrywide tackle these growing challenges.

    Hector and I have both been amazed at the talent and generosity of our colleagues at the Institute and throughout the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. We’ve also been inspired and encouraged by staff at so many of our partner parks and non-profits. Here’s to joining with you in our future careers using public lands for the greater good! We’ll see you in the parks.

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  • Urban

    Race and the Great Outdoors

    Here at the Institute, we’ve been reading UC Berkeley professor Carolyn Finney’s new book Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors. In it, Finney explores how the environment and nature became racialized concepts in the United States, partly by delving into the history of slavery and Jim Crow laws. She also challenges media representations of how Americans of color connect to open space and adds complexity to the (prevailingly white) cultural narratives that we use to define and claim outdoor experiences for ourselves and others. The so-called “white spaces” of American national parklands are past due for some change.

    Dr. Finney’s work is exciting not just because Black Faces, White Spaces is beautifully written and thought-provoking, but because it’s part of a larger discussion about making parks more relevant to a broader diversity of people. Initiatives in the National Park Service, private industry, and environmental non-profits are all beginning efforts to see public lands in new ways so we can use them more inclusively. For example, check out the line-up of the new Diverse Environmental Leaders (DEL) National Speakers Bureau, intended to “provide knowledgeable, articulate and experienced experts of color to build broad community support for the protection of our public lands through relevancy, diversity and inclusion.” (DEL website) "Every member has individually done some seriously inspiring environmental work, so we can expect this newly-launched group to have a major impact.

    The Institute’s Urban program has some related efforts of its own. This year, we’re researching and analyzing outreach strategies at the Crissy Field Center here in the Golden Gate National Parks and the SAMO Youth program in Santa Monica National Recreation Area. These powerful projects have shaped themselves around the needs of youth in nearby, underserved communities—multi-ethnic ones in San Francisco and chiefly Latino ones in Los Angeles. As a result, they not only provide job training, safe places to be after school, and financial help in the form of a stipend, they create enduring bonds between communities of color and national parkland. We’re excited to share their programmatic successes and the learning experiences they’ve had along the way.

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  • This month, the Institute fellows shadowed Urban Trailblazer (UTB) youth from the Crissy Field Center (CFC) on a trip to Yosemite. Every summer, the students in this middle school program spend four days and three nights camping, hiking, and exploring in the grand, wild remoteness that Yosemite can offer and bustling Crissy Field can’t.

    From Ruth:
    From the perspective of the Institute’s urban program, this trip is a highly concentrated look at some complicated city-to-park relationships. Style-conscious students wore Converse sneakers and Air Jordans for a steep mountain hike of eight miles, including one who had wadded-up paper stuffed in at his heels. Halfway there, leading the group at a speedy pace, he told leaders that he had never gone hiking before. Another student, awed by the giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove, murmured, “There’s hella trees, yo.” High school staffers—who were program participants themselves not so long ago—shouldered much of the responsibility, modeling outdoor knowhow at an attainable level. They carried extra water for those who might need it, pitched in to cook over the campfire, and led games that left the middle school set giggling and rolling on the ground. The participants clearly admired these young leaders who looked and sounded like they did: “You’re boss,” one said at the end of the week.

    From Hector:
    As part of the Institute’s Health and Wellness Initiative, I decided to join the group not only as an additional source of support but also as an innovative form of evaluation; namely, I would have the opportunity to participate in the hike, splash around underneath the waterfall, and of course, to tell some jokes, all in the name of information gathering. We wanted to gain insight into the CFC methods and learn from the students firsthand what they are learning about their peers, the environment, and themselves. In addition to appreciating the wild on the hike or in the water, we took the opportunity to introduce a healthy menu that was both delicious and nutritious. After dinner when the bellies were full and the faces smiling, I had the chance to conduct one-on-one interviews with a random selection of students to delve deeper into topics such as mental and physical wellbeing as well as food. Conversations with staff following interviews reinforced our belief that our inclusion would provide valuable feedback into changes that could be made immediately but also for future UTB adventurers.

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  • Urban

    Three Weeks In

    I highly recommend working as a research fellow for the Institute at the Golden Gate. So far, staff members have stumped Hector and me with insider non-profit lingo, given us popsicles, and introduced us to what seems like every person in the Bay Area who thinks about parks and open space for a living. It’s a riot.

    My research area is urban parks. Worldwide, the number of people living in cities is expected to swell rapidly in the next few decades, and that speedy growth will create or intensify a host of social problems—ones that parks can help address. Writing on this site last year, Stephanie Duncan pointed out that parks offer “mental, physical, and social health benefits while at the same time contributing directly to common goods such as air and water quality, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration.” The Institute’s healthfood, and climate projects are already blazing related trails—my task is to narrow in on the special challenges of parks in cities, and find out what unique role they can play.

    The Institute’s template for change always begins with finding successful innovators, so I’ll be collecting smash-hit stories from around the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and its home city of San Francisco, as well as other major urban parks. In particular, I’ll investigate how parks can make themselves relevant to a wider swath of the ethnically and economically diverse communities that gather in big cities. Happily, the Institute already has an inspiring example or two in its network, so I’m excited to document and share their work.

    Here’s to more popsicles, less lingo, and a park for every urban need.

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  • Fellowship for Emerging Leaders

    The Institute at the Golden Gate is pleased to announce we are piloting a Fellowship for Emerging Leaders.

    Inspired by the amazing educational opportunities already available throughout the Golden Gate National Parks though the Crissy Field Center, Park Stewardship, Presidio Trust, and more, the Institute felt we could contribute to this wonderful environmental education pathway. Our hope is that this fellowship will provide a unique professional training experience for those environmentalists just beginning their career. Through the Fellowship, the Institute will connect young leaders with experienced environmental professionals, provide opportunities to develop professional skills, and engage emerging leaders in the Institute’s collaborative, cross-sector program work. 

    The Institute staff and I believe we have found some amazing young professionals to help us kick off this program - we would love to welcome our first class of Fellows: Hector Zaragoza who will be joining out Health & Wellness team, and Ruth Pimentel who will be working with us on our Urban initiative. Photos and bios to come! 

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