An Immersive Citizen Science Expedition for High Schoolers in the Yuba Watershed
SYRCL is excited to announce that our Youth Outdoor Leadership Opportunity (YOLO) Expedition is back in person this summer! Since 2014, our field science program has led annual multi-day field expeditions for high school students. In 2018, we added a new program, YOLO, to engage local youth in learning about meadow ecosystems, health, and restoration—a big part of SYRCL’s restoration work.
This unique opportunity gives students hands-on experience of being a field scientist, collecting data, and learning how they can be a change agent. Students take away more than dirty hands and memorable moments. Throughout the expedition, students develop their leadership and teambuilding skills and engage in discussions focused on climate change and environmental justice.
We are still recruiting 10th-12th graders and graduating seniors interested in this FREE five-day summer science expedition. This year students will install aspen enclosures at Loney Meadow, conduct biological studies, collect data, take beautiful hikes, and learn about the importance of healthy meadows and meadow fringe aspen ecosystems. The 2021 YOLO Expedition is June 14-18, 2021.
2020 Alumni Teamwork
Last year our traditional YOLO Expedition was postponed. Thanks to a bit of ingenuity, our team was able to continue some of this important work by hosting a COVID-safe “YOLO 2019 Alumni Reunion & Volunteer Day” in October 2020. Four participants from our 2019 Expedition volunteered their time on a Saturday during which time they reconnected with each other and SYRCL scientists and helped complete necessary, on-the-ground restoration actions, including recolonizing riparian plant species and removing cattle-guard fencing from several vulnerable riparian areas throughout the meadow. Each year, these fences help prevent cattle from compacting the soil in vulnerable restoration areas, thereby providing species like aspen the right conditions to flourish. They are removed before the arrival of heavy snows to prevent damage to the fencing. The work completed by our 2019 Alumni team in 2020 provided our Watershed Science team with invaluable service.
More About the 2021 Program
Students who participate in this year’s 2021 YOLO Expedition will engage in critical work to protect vulnerable meadow fringe aspen habitats—unique aspen communities often found in small stands in the Sierra Nevada. They play an essential role by serving as a shady, moist wildlife refuge for birds, insects, and deer, and fostering a rich diversity of plant life. Meadow fringe aspen are at risk of being lost in the Sierra Nevada, which is why scientists are studying, monitoring, and managing them for conservation. YOLO participants will learn how restoration scientists use conservation strategies like thinning conifers, conducting prescribed fire, and protecting aspen from grazing to manage and restore this crucial ecosystem. Students will help install fencing around aspen stands to protect young trees from grazing cattle and collect aspen inventory data.
We are thrilled to offer this invaluable experience to local high school students throughout the Yuba watershed and look forward to another successful field science season. Many thanks to the National Forest Foundation and the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), with major support from Toyota Motor North America, who is funding this program through a Biodiversity Conservation Grant for making this opportunity possible.