Science and wilderness exploration for high schoolers from Alcoa communities

This two-week program is a unique opportunity for high school students to learn and grow in three of the world’s most beautiful protected lands. 55 students from diverse backgrounds and nationalities will explore the wonders of the natural world in UNESCO world heritage sites that provide the optimum experience for hand-on-learning in science. The mix of backcountry travel, bonding with an international community, and outdoor experiential learning will be an experience Alcoa Scholars won’t soon forget.

NatureBridge recognizes the importance of serving the parks in which we operate our programs. Whether it is through stream biomonitoring or invasive species removal, NatureBridge students have an opportunity to contribute to these public lands.

As our world and our environmental issues become more connected, the need for an informed and connected global citizenry continues to grow. Alcoa Scholars will converge from different nations and backgrounds to form a community that will explore environmental issues from a global communities perspective.

Date Range

 July 17- 29, 2017
August 6 – 19, 2017



Students ages 16-18 from Alcoa communities around the globe. Please note: Application and program delivered in English.

English proficiency required.


All fees for this program, including travel, will be covered by a generous grant from Alcoa Foundation.

If accepted, NatureBridge will require a fully refundable $100 deposit by June 1. Deposits will be fully refunded once the applicant starts the program.

About the Program

The 2017 program will take place in two spectacular settings: Yosemite and Shenandoah. After arrival, the Scholars will spend a few days at base camp in their selected location. They will then be split into smaller hiking groups of 10-12 Scholars and will head out into the backcountry, where they will explore magnificent terrain and conduct scientific research projects unique to the park. From stream health studies to challenge hikes to solo reflections, every day will be full of scientific discovery and personal growth. Upon return, they will present their findings to an audience of their peers and invited guests. The Alcoa Scholars will return home connected to an international group of friends, inspired by the natural wonder of the national park, and empowered to make a difference in their home communities.

In Yosemite, participants will spend a few days getting to know the base camp at Crane Flat before striking out into the Yosemite High Country for a multi-day backpacking trip. Glaciated valleys, granite peaks, and alpine lakes will provide the stunning backdrop for a fun and challenging backpacking adventure through Yosemite’s Cathedral Range. Back at Crane Flat, students will dive deep into the wonder and science of Yosemite Valley and the Tuolumne Grove of giant sequoias.

In Shenandoah, students will spend a portion of their time backpacking along the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, some of the oldest mountains in the World. Creating national parks in the East, which was more heavily settled than the West, was a difficult task. More than 450 mountain families had to be relocated from the Blue Ridge to establish Shenandoah National Park, creating significant tension between U.S. citizens and their government. The story of the rights and responsibilities of citizens and government will be explored on a journey through the national park and through the city of Washington, D.C. With visits to memorials, monuments, and museums, Scholars will consider their individual rights and responsibilities as they explore and learn about the incredible natural world around them.

To learn more about the natural wonders of each park, visit the National Park Service webpages for Yosemite and Shenandoah.

How to Apply

The application process for 2017 will open February 15, 2017.

Applications will be due by April 1, 2017.

A full application consists of:

Letter of recommendation
Participant Registration Form (filled out by parent/guardian and a physician)
Student contract

For emailed applications and letters of recommendation, please open PDFs with Adobe Acrobat.

Please send your completed application materials to:

Mailed/faxed applications are also accepted.

Attn: Alcoa Scholars Application
28 Geary St., Ste. 650
San Francisco, CA 94108

tel: 415.758.1650
fax: 415.992.4711

For more information about the application process, contact us @