Many students in underserved urban areas, like nearby Las Vegas, have never enjoyed transformative experiences in nature that others might take for granted. Many of these students have never seen a night sky without light pollution or marveled at the innumerable constellations or even seen the Milky Way. They’ve never pitched a tent and slept the night in it or enjoyed an evening around a campfire. They’ve never taken a hike in a wondrous landscape like Zion National Park.
Concrete-to-Canyons is the park’s most ambitious and longest-running outreach program that grants underserved students across Nevada the opportunity to experience all these life-changing experiences and more. Through this award-winning program, Zion invites students from nearby Clark County, Nevada to enjoy a three-day, two-night hiking and camping experience in the park with rangers, learning about the park’s spectacular landscape, plants, animals, and history while becoming more comfortable and confident in the outdoors. The approximately 300 students who participate in the program come from Title 1 schools, where a majority of the student population are from underserved households.
This year, Zion is working to expand the program to more than just Title 1 schools, and is hoping to invite students from rural and tribal lands to the park. To make this transformational trip a reality, with your donations the Zion Forever Project covers the costs of the students’ transportation to and from the park, camping supplies, and food. The initiative also provides the resources for two seasonal education rangers who curate and lead the experiences.
The camping trip in the park is only one highlight of the experience. Zion rangers meet with the classes in advance to help them pack and to teach them about park resources and safety. Rangers also lead a skill-building workshop for teachers, parents, and chaperones. For many chaperones, it is their first time in a national park as well.
Participating students share their experiences with their families and community. Zion invites past participants of the program to a family camping day in the park and encourages them to bring family members with them to enjoy ranger-led activities. This after-the-trip component strives to instill a connection to national parks that will last a lifetime. Because of your continued support, the park kept the program going with virtual field trips in 2020 and one-day immersive experiences in 2021 and 2022. With your continued support, the park looks forward to once again offering the full three-day experience to better connect these youth to the outdoors thanks to Zion Forever Project funding.