Nature for All pilot program to provide outdoor experiences

Submitted to the Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — To provide opportunities for underserved community members of all ages to connect with nature, the Tahoe Fund has partnered with the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science to bring a new pilot program to life. 

Aligned with the California’s Outdoor Access for All initiative, the Tahoe’s Nature for All program will provide immersive experiences to hundreds of people who do not have access to the outdoors.

“It’s easy to assume that those who live in close proximity to Tahoe’s trails and recreation activities have the same level of access as everyone else. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Cory Ritchie, Tahoe Fund board chair. “By funding the Tahoe Nature for All program, our hope is that more people in our community will be able to experience the benefits of Tahoe’s natural beauty.”

Part of the funding provided by the Tahoe Fund for TINS’ Tahoe Nature for All program comes from Palisades Tahoe. The resort participates in the $1 for Tahoe program, which allows guests to support conservation, recreation, and stewardship education throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin and the Truckee River Watershed through their purchase of lift tickets and season passes. This year, these contributions from Palisades Tahoe will be earmarked for the Tahoe Nature for All program. In addition to their financial support, Palisades Tahoe will also host one of the nature experiences at High Camp in late August. 

“Our employees and our guests are passionate about doing all we can to inspire others to enjoy the outdoors. We realize the value that comes from connecting with nature not only for an individual’s own personal well-being, but for that of the greater community,” said Dee Byrne, president and COO of Palisades Tahoe. “Supporting this effort is a meaningful way to put funds raised through our guest donation program to work.”

In the inaugural year of the program, the experts at Tahoe Institute for Natural Science will provide free nature experience programs in partnership with four nonprofit and educational partner organizations. This includes:

— Six field programs for regional youth between the ages of six and 13 who experience symptoms of anxiety and depression in partnership with The Courage Project.

— 10 days of programming with the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe will give South Lake Tahoe youth unique opportunities to learn natural history and take part in facilitated nature immersion experiences.

— Six programs with Sierra Community House will offer guided nature experiences to survivors of abuse, underserved women and youth, Spanish speaking communities, and families that might not generally have access to nature for a variety of reasons.

— Five days of field trip programming for two fifth grade classes at Incline Elementary School, which serves a diverse student population with 51% Hispanic students, 39% English Language Learners, 33% of students qualifying for free and reduced meals, and 16% of students with disabilities.

“We wish to serve as many people as possible through connections with both nature and each other, as it encourages everyone involved to improve our community and to be good stewards of our natural resources,” said Will Richardson, TINS co-founder and executive director. “Our hope is that the success of these programs will result in the opportunity to partner with additional community-focused organizations, break down past barriers to our programming, and reach additional sectors of our community in the future.”

Source: Tahoe Fund

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