Underserved community members have new opportunities to explore the outdoors through a collaboration between Redwood National and State Parks and Cal Poly Humboldt's Center Activities Department.
Forests for All aims to support engagement in the park by facilitating fun and meaningful outdoor excursions such as ranger-led backpacking trips and hiking trips for youth and families.
Karla Jovel (‘18, Environmental Science & Management), National Park Service Park Ranger, launched the program after gaining grant funding from the National Park Trust and the California State Parks Foundation, and reached out to Center Activities to combine resources as they have on previous efforts.
The program helps participants, especially Cal Poly Humboldt students, engage with their local environment in order to help foster a sense of connection to local lands and a community of environmental advocates. On campus, this program has been able to identify underserved student communities that are often burdened with barriers to recreation, and engage those groups to get students out to new places they may never have had the opportunity to experience otherwise.
Far too often students leave Humboldt without ever getting to experience their public lands in local national and state parks. By changing this, the program is able to develop deeper connections to the land and the campus, which leaders believe will increase student retention and a future generation of public land caretakers.
The park is also teaming with other local community partners, like Latino Outdoors, which joined them recently for a backpacking trip into Redwood Creek. Students also had a unique opportunity to spend the night at the Wolf Creek Education Center to learn about backcountry survival and preparedness, Leave No Trace Principles, and redwood ecology for the last trip of the season.
"It has been an amazing experience having the opportunity to work with Center Activities to connect students and the local community to our redwood parks,” says Jovel. “We are so grateful for the Center Activities staff and their willingness to share their knowledge and talent with park staff and students. I look forward to working together on this collaborative effort in 2023.”
Redwood National and State Parks has provided access to grant funding, permits, park planning, program development, interpretive services, natural resource interpretation, and support. Center Activities has provided the remainder of funding in order to offer the programs for free to students, outdoor guide leadership, outdoor equipment support, outreach, and transportation.
“We are excited to see where this program will go in the future as we continue to work together in support of the mission to introduce folks to the amazing park resources we have in our backyard,” says Bridget Nichols, associate director of Campus Recreation.
The National Park Trust and California State Park Foundation, as well as the Redwood Parks Conservancy were essential in the making of this program.