Environmental Living Program

Horse-drawn wagon in history center
Learning about early transportation aboard a horse-drawn wagon.

Program Overview

In this program, students stay at the Pioneer Yosemite History Center and assume the roles of historical figures from the 19th and early 20th centuries--people who influenced the development and protection of the area now known as Yosemite National Park.

During an overnight visit, participants in grades 4 and 5 confront the problems and decisions of the pioneers by performing tasks such as chopping wood, blacksmithing, cooking on a wood stove, and working with horses.

The main focus of the program is the history of land management in Yosemite. Through a simulated experience of a historic period in Yosemite, students will discover that land use issues of the past are similar to land use issues and park management conflicts today.

As a result of this discovery, students can choose to make a personal commitment to the protection of resources and national parks, as well as other community, state, or federal lands.

Young pioneers cooking in the Homestead Cabin.
Young pioneers working to prepare dinner in the Homestead Cabin.

Season: Late-April through early-June.

Requirement: Teachers are required to attend a specific training workshop held the preceding autumn (adult helpers must also attend).

You are taking the first steps toward providing a learning experience that your students will never forget. Before you begin, please note that this program requires extensive classroom preparation and comprehensive planning. Students, teachers, and adult helpers need to be well prepared for the experience in order to ensure its success.

There are three different handbooks to help you forge your way to a great Environmental Living program experience. These include the: Program and Curriculum Handbooks – both of which have all been prepared to assist you in planning and conducting the program.

  • The Program Handbook is the only one available online. You can download it here:

If you are a teacher interested in potentially participating in this program, we invite you to request a copy of the curriculum handbook that gives a substantial amount of additional information about conducting the program. To request copies of the Curriculum Handbook, please contact Dean Shenk (Program Supervisor).

  • The Curriculum Handbook gives more detailed information regarding:
    • Detailed descriptions of the YELP stations and associated activities
    • Common Core coordinated for this program and 4th and 5th grades
    • Historical Biographies
    • Recipes, and
    • Barn dance calls and music

You can also download the application [100 kb PDF].

Young pioneer working on his project in the meadow.
Young pioneer working on his project in the meadow.

Groups bear all costs of National Park Service fees ($400.00), transportation, food, supplies and materials. Apply in winter/spring for the following year.

Dean Shenk [Program Supervisor]: 209/372-0620 (winter) 209/375-9504 (summer)

Last updated: September 1, 2016

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 577
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389


(209) 372-0200

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