Sierra Nevada Journeys

Our mission is to deliver innovative outdoor, science-based education programs for youth to develop critical thinking skills and to inspire natural resource stewardship.

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Address: 1331 Garden Highway, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95833
County or Parish: Sacramento
Primary NTEE: Youth Development 
Sub NTEE: Youth Development Programs 
Executive Director: Eaton Dunkelberger
Contact Email:
Primary Phone: 775-355-1688
Fax: 775-329-1689
Sierra Nevada Journeys is a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency with the mission to deliver innovative outdoor, science-based education programs for youth to develop critical thinking skills and to inspire natural resource stewardship. Our vision is to build a community of youth who are leaders, scientists, and stewards of the natural world. Sierra Nevada Journeys brings STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in-class learning and field-experiments to children and supports the educators who teach them.

Working with 1st-6th grade students, Sierra Nevada Journeys' programs include field-science experiences and in-class lessons, professional development opportunities for teachers, family outreach initiatives, and enriching outdoor school experiences at our 1,500-acre Grizzly Creek Ranch in Portola, CA. We now celebrate more than 75,000 students and 4,500 teachers served throughout the greater Sacramento and Reno areas.

Sierra Nevada Journeys programs ensure all students, regardless of economic background, foster a connection to the natural world creating lifelong learners and stewards of our local resources and environment.
STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) literacy is in critical demand, and Sacramento area elementary schools are booking Sierra Nevada Journeys as their education partner for both students and teachers at an incredible pace. Our in-class and field-experiment programming has grown from 12 schools and 930 students in 2015 to 30 schools and 4,500 students this year! We have waiting lists and need to hire more educators and fund more field trips to keep up with the demand. Sacramento is hungry for our programming, and Sierra Nevada Journeys needs your financial support to continue to deliver it. We focus on under-served communities who typically get less than one hour of science instruction per week and turn 1st - 6th graders into environmental scientists, geologists and engineers during our programming. 90% of the students we serve demonstrate a significant improvement in science standards based on assessment data!
Our top needs:
  1. Funding: Program - Classrooms Unleashed
  2. Funding: Program - Overnight Outdoor Learning
  3. Funding: Program - Family Science/STEM Nights
  4. Funding: Program - NGSS Teacher Professional Development
  5. Funding: Unrestricted -
In 2017, Sierra Nevada Journeys celebrates 10 years of providing high-quality, standards-based science education through our school-based programs. Our work improves student performance outcomes while also inspiring and motivating students to learn and engage with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

In 2015, Sierra Nevada Journeys expanded its programming to the Sacramento area because of a clear need for high-quality science instruction. Overall, only 33 percent of fifth grade students in California are proficient in science; Sacramento reflects the same low percentage. Drill down further into district-wide numbers within Sacramento and find 2014 test results that show students in several school districts perform even worse than the already low state and city averages with less than 31 percent of fifth graders achieving proficiency and over half performing at "basic" or below.

The need to reverse this trend is more important now than ever. STEM jobs in the United States in the past 10 years have grown at three times the pace of non-STEM jobs and are projected to continue growing at this pace through the next decade. Producing qualified STEM job candidates starts with preparing and equipping students early-on in school.

Sierra Nevada Journeys' innovative and unique programs use science and the outdoors to contextualize a variety of subject areas as students actively use skills necessary to be successful citizens in the 21st century work-force. Lessons are based on student curiosity, observations, self-developed questions, exploration, reflection and real-world experience. Programs are based on California Education and Next Generation Science Standards and also adhere to best practices established by the North American Association for problem solving."

In partnership with schools, donors and volunteers, Sierra Nevada Journeys expands the four walls of classroom learning and enrich students' traditional educational experience shaping young learners into critical thinkers and stewards of our natural resources.

According to a recent National Wildlife Federation Report, students involved in outdoor and environmental education improved their math and reading scores, performed better in science and social studies, were more fully able to transfer learning into familiar contexts, and learned to "do science," rather than just learn "about science." Outside the classroom, students "… become enthusiastic self-motivated learners … [who] gain a … comprehensive understanding of the world; advanced thinking skills leading to discovery and real-world problem solving."