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On May 16, 2009, University of California, Merced (UC Merced) Chancellor Sung-Mo "Steve" Kang presented the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest award given by a UC Chancellor, to Yosemite National Park. This is the first time the Chancellors Award has been given to an organization, rather than an individual. The award was given to Yosemite National Park for excellence in collaborative partnership of several programs offered at UC Merced designed to inspire academic leadership, field study, and experimental learning in Yosemite National Park.
The award was given to Yosemite National Park during UC Merced’s Commencement Ceremony of their first four year graduating class. Jon Jarvis, Pacific West Regional Director of the National Park Service, accepted the award on behalf of Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite National Park and UC Merced offers multiple programs designed to teach students the importance of protected areas, cultural resource management, outdoor experience, environmental ethical debates, and protection of sensitive resources, such as lands set aside by the National Park Service.
Programs being offered by Yosemite National Park and UC Merced include:
Yosemite Leadership Program - 2-year co-curricular program focused on giving students the skills to lead, advocate for the environment, make informed ethical decisions, and create social change. The skills are developed through a variety of on-campus and outdoor activities during the school year and an internship in the park during the summer.
Executive Leadership Seminar on Leading Strategic Change - 11-day course for senior leaders in park, protected area, and cultural resource management from around the world. The course will focus on 4 main topic areas: Leading Change and Organizational Renewal; Context Matters: Trends and critical issues for public land managers; Innovation in the Field; and Generating Motivation and Commitment.
UC Merced Sierra Nevada Research Institute (SNRI) – located at the Wawona Field Station. Scientists are given a base for conducting scientific research in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada.
Adventure, Risk, Challenge (ARC) - a wilderness literacy and leadership program based out of the SNRI Wawona Field Station for a 40-day immersion for eight to ten Merced County students.
Robert Fore Excellence in Science Fellowship - weekend-long retreats at SNRI Wawona Field Station for Merced Union High School District teachers. The curriculum is taught by UC Merced science professors and Yosemite resource management staff in an effort to connect state-standards-based high school science curriculum with the local Sierra Nevada ecosystems.
National Parks Institute - provides management development curriculum for national park and public land management officials, promote scientific research in parks, foster stewardship, and promote and develop environmentally-sustainable resource management practices.
The NPS and UC Merced partnership grew out of the inspiration to support educational dreams of young people who were interested in environmental protection and the benefits of protected lands. UC Merced is diverse, growing, and committed to those ideals that serve the state, nation, and world through education, research and public service. Additionally, the close location of the campus to Yosemite National Park and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks harbors an exceptional environmental research setting. The partnership with UC Merced allows the NPS access to the highest quality scholarly thought and research, as well as a major touchpoint for outreach to the diverse San Joaquin Valley population.