Title: Executive Director of YES Nature to Neighborhoods
What is YES Nature to Neighborhoods?
YES Nature to Neighborhoods is a nonprofit that provides Richmond-area youth ages 8 – 18 with outdoor nature experiences while helping them develop leadership and relationship building skills. We believe that exposure to enriching, outdoor opportunities helps light a fire in the hearts and imaginations of our kids, allowing them to think outside the box about who they are and who they want to become.
What makes YES unique compared to other youth programs in the Richmond area?
Everything we do starts with building a connection in nature. We provide safe and supportive settings outdoors so youth can get to know people from different backgrounds. Recognizing that many youth stay in Richmond, we want them to have a positive view of their community so that they can explore career opportunities after high school and feel empowered to give back to their community.
What is it about the outdoors you find so inspirational?
For our youth, it’s transformative to get outdoors and see the wild spaces that California offers. It’s also eye opening for our youth who have not grown up with nature to see the grandeur of a place like Yosemite, or the magic of a park like Point Pinole. We also have access to kayaking on the Bay which allows our youth to literally see Richmond from a new perspective.
What types of youth programs does YES offer?
We have several programs that work together to create a 10-year leadership pathway for our youth. We send over 300 youth each year to week-long Summer Camps around the Bay Area, and offer Camp Days at Miller Knox Park where kids learn about fishing, biking and hiking during the school year. We also have a Camp-to-Community program for teens that hosts weekly events throughout the year, like backpacking and community service projects. Lastly, we have Family Camp to bring together youth and their families in natural settings.
What has it been like working with Chevron?
I really appreciate the partnership between YES and Chevron. They are looking at the most pressing needs that young people have in the Richmond area, such as education and career training, and are genuinely committed to helping the community and agencies like ours address those areas. To me, what matters most is that Chevron is listening to the community and working strategically to direct funding where it is needed most.
What do you love most about your job and working in the Richmond area?
I have been doing this for 11 years, so being able to see kids become successful young adults is so rewarding. YES helps youth develop the confidence and connections necessary to go out and navigate the world, and Richmond and its regional parks have provided us the perfect natural setting to do our work.
What is the real Richmond to you?
Richmond is a diverse community with a rich history of hardworking individuals who people admire and respect. Richmond also has some of the best access to nature in the entire Bay Area, including the most shoreline of any Bay Area city. I am proud to be a Richmond resident and work in this community. To learn more and help YES bring 330 Richmond youth to camp this summer, please visit www.yesfamilies.org.