My First Zion Experience
“Out there I was so relaxed and calm,” remembers 10-year old Lemetraonia of her first trip to Zion, “I was in my own world.” For the last 5 years, Zion National Park has welcomed over 600 students from Nevada Title I schools to an outdoor classroom to experience campfire, stars, mule deer, and the Virgin River. Recognizing that a lifelong connection to nature occurs most profoundly when developed during the formative years, park educators developed innovative programming created to reach an underserved adolescent audience. Designed to bring youth living in urban centers to Zion Canyon, this program impacts youth in Las Vegas and Mesquite, Nevada, and if funding can be secured, expansion is planned for the surrounding region.
Concrete to Canyons is an award-winning program recognized for bringing 150 students annually to 3 days of ranger-led educational experiences. Its unique, multiple connection design gives students contact with Zion rangers in their home classrooms, two visits to Zion National Park, and a stewardship project on public lands near their homes. Opportunities on this scale are rare for urban youth attending impoverished schools with very limited resources. Concrete to Canyons delivers transformational, perhaps once-in-a lifetime encounters that every child has the right to experience.
News of the Concrete to Canyons success story is expanding throughout the National Park system. Two of Zion’s sister parks are looking to follow this educational model by bringing underserved Salt Lake City students to Dinosaur National Monument and rural Utah youth to Capitol Reef. In order to continue this model program in 2019, and expand to areas that are anxious for involvement, Zion’s educational team needs sustained support.
“Zion was the best experience of my 10-year old life!”