YES Nature to Neighborhoods


YES Nature to Neighborhoods

Photo of Blanca Hernández smiling outside in a verdant hilly area

Are you passionate about environmental education and community empowerment? Dive into YES Nature to Neighborhoods' transformative work through the words of Blanca Hernández, YES Director of Programs & Partnerships.

By connecting youth and families with nature, YES Nature to Neighborhoods aims to foster environmental stewardship, personal growth, equity and justice, and community engagement. Blanca invites you to visit several Bay Area parks to learn about YES's residential, outdoor, and hiking programs. She also shares her background, inclusive and culturally relevant educational approaches, and excellent book recommendations. In addition, you will gain valuable insights from meeting with Eric Aaholm (YES Executive Director), Janice Hutson (YES Camp Participant), Carlos Guerrero (YES Rangers Coordinator), and a cameo appearance by José González (Founder, Latino Outdoors).

Key takeaways include:

  1. Community-Centered Program Design: YES prioritizes community input, which helps this organization create culturally relevant and inclusive programs that resonate with community needs and visions.
  2. Healing-Centered Approach: YES adopts a trauma-informed, healing-centered approach to outdoor education, recognizing the need to foster a safe and welcoming environment for everyone.
  3. Diversity in Environmental Narratives: Emphasizing the often overlooked history of people of color in environmental movements, YES broadens the narrative to incorporate diverse voices and experiences.
  4. Immersive Learning Environment: Residential and outdoor programs offer immersive experiences, allowing participants to live and learn in natural settings, fostering a deep connection with the environment. This approach leads to long-lasting interest in conservation, spending time outdoors, and environmental policy-making.
  5. Community Empowerment: YES engages communities in environmental efforts by making them active stakeholders in protecting biodiversity and unique ecosystems in California. Participant learn how to take part in environmental decision-making and contribute to environmental justice in their communities through policy-making.
  6. Collaborative Partnerships: YES nurtures partnerships across sectors—including environmental associations, nonprofits, museums, businesses, and schools—to create comprehensive environmental education programs, and to amplify educational and environmental efforts in the Bay Area.

Discover how YES Nature to Neighborhoods breaks barriers, enables access to nature, and nurtures community leaders!

"Environmental Education, Blanca Hernández YES Nature to Neighborhoods" on image Blanca smiling in front of trees and mountains

This video is part of a research project sponsored by Cornell–Edinburgh Global Strategic Collaboration Awards. It will also be featured as a case study of community engagement in a deep-dive webinar by Cornell University and NAAEE as part of the EPA-sponsored ee360+ project (spring 2024).