Sierra Nevada Journeys: Research benefits for youth outdoor STEM education

Project title

Research Benefits for Youth Outdoor STEM Education

Research question

What are the compelling overall benefits of outdoor STEM education for elementary and middle school youth?
We are interested in building a resource of findings from academic research to incorporate into grant proposals, partner communications and educational curriculum on the following questions:


  • How has the mental health of students and youth been impacted by the COVID pandemic and how has education in the outdoors (natural world) helped them?
  • What is the impact on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for students by having outdoor education available for youth?
  • How has outdoor STEM education resulted in academic success and helped meet State and Federal Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)?
  • What are the most effective approaches to developing and delivering culturally relevant outdoor science education programs?


Sierra Nevada Journeys (SNJ) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to deliver innovative outdoor science-based education programs for youth to develop critical thinking skills and to inspire natural resource stewardship. We have credentialed science teachers that deliver our Classrooms Unleashed curriculum for first-through-sixth grade students, teaching in the classroom and leading one-day field science expeditions in the Reno and Sacramento areas. In addition, we recently purchased the 515-acre Grizzly Creek Ranch camp, in Portola, Calif., where fifth and sixth-grade students attend our outdoor school program called Overnight Outdoor Learning. We also host Family STEM Nights at local schools to engage families and reinforce our classroom concepts. More than 50 percent of the students we serve are from low-income families and 61 percent are students of color.


  • Attend one of our local Classrooms Unleashed programs or take a trip to Grizzly Creek Ranch (approximately an hour away) to observe our programs in real time to get a sense of the interactions between our educators and the students.
  • Present a white paper detailing quotes, articles and links that can be used to address the questions above, specifically, how outdoor science education not only benefits our youth, but is crucial to fill in the gaps of academic regression caused by the COVID pandemic.
  • Craft a social media blog post for our website presenting the benefits of outdoor education for youth using the information found during research.

Agency representative

Joan Grover

(775) 355-1688