Summer Youth Education Programs 2021

This summer, we were grateful and excited to be able to work in-person with YTL Training Program and YMCA Horizons to facilitate youth education in the environment and outdoor recreation. We want to give a special thank you to Board members Allison Williams, Matt Moses, and Larry Pender for helping provide exceptional and exciting experiences — from whitewater rafting to horseback riding!

Education improves through partnership, knowledge, and experience. We are so grateful for the opportunity to partner with Youth Transformed for Life in educational outings, and to have experts in the field of conservation and recreation partner with us as well. AmeriCorps member Cici Wood and intern LaKyla Hodges continued to work with Youth Transformed for Life (YTL) to host on-site educational programs and plan a series of excursions. Community Farm Associate Tamarya Sims led one group on an exploration of farm life, including pollinators and chickens. Matt Moses and his team from USA Raft ( provided on-the-river rafting experiences for youth and teens, rafting the Lower Nolichucky from the USA Raft Adventure Resort in Erwin, TN. Thank you to USA Raft for donating two afternoon excursions!

Allison Williams led an outdoor recreation program at the SAHC Community Farm for both YTL and the YMCA Horizons summer camp, along with special guest Leandra Taylor, Outreach and Partnership Coordinator with the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards. Groups worked together to put up tents, make trail mix, and cook on a camp stove, and Leandra led a mindfulness and nature journaling activity. “At the end of the event, Allison had everyone stand in a circle and end using one positive word to describe the experience,” recalls LaKyla. “They were using words like ‘exciting’ and ‘new’ and ‘together’ and ‘learning’ – I was really happy about that because they seemed to actually take something away from the experience. They talked about the view and being outside. I think that was a really nice moment.”

Ending out the special trips in July, and the end of the camp season, founders of Pathways to Parks Tanya Marie and Larry Pender joined youth for a horseback riding trip in Madison County at Sandy Bottoms Trail Rides.

“When Pathways to Parks connects children with horseback riding in nature, we know that we’re seeing the fruition of our mission — connecting humans with nature!” said Tanya Marie Pender, Co-founder and President of Pathways to Parks. The mission of Pathways to Parks is to motivate Americans of color to get outdoors and enjoy the benefits of nature in our national, state and local parks and to help make it easy and accessible for them to do so.

Visit for more info about their work.