Girls’ Outdoor Adventure in
Leadership and Science
GOALS at UC Davis
John Muir Institute for the Environment
University of California - Davis
One Shields Ave, Davis CA 95616
2017-2018 YEAR END REPORT
All content © 2019 Girls’ Outdoor Adventure in Leadership and Science (GOALS) at UC Davis.
All Rights Reserved.
Girls’ Outdoor Adventure in Leadership and Science (GOALS) seeks to cultivate and
embolden the next generation of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)
leaders. We do this through an immersive, field-based summer science program for high
school girls and gender expansive youth. Following the summer program, scholars are paired
with a university-affiliated mentor who advises them on next steps. GOALS celebrated our
first program in Summer 2018. Seven youth scholars from the Sacramento area ventured into
the backcountry of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, led by two UC Davis
undergraduate student trip leaders. The group hiked over 40 miles, spent 13 nights camping,
participated in two citizen science projects investigating the effects of climate change and
nutrient pollution on the park's unique alpine ecosystems, and created and presented about
their own scientific projects, all while engaging with science and leadership curriculum.
This 2017-2018 Year End Report details the program rationale, budget, logistics, and
outcomes of GOALS during our first year.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering,
and Math) careers are experiencing
economic growth, yet fewer women,
especially women of color, are beginning
STEM careers. Women account for only 28%
of the science and engineering workforce,
with women of color making up just 10% of
the workforce. Female participation in
fields such as engineering, computer
science, and mathematics is particularly
low, with women making up less than 25%
of the workforce in those fields.
This gap in participation appears long
before women enter the workforce. Though
women earn half of the nation’s bachelor’s
degrees in science and engineering, those
degrees are largely concentrated in the
biological sciences. Women earn far fewer
than half of the degrees awarded in
mathematics (43.1%), computer science
(17.9%), physical sciences (39%), and
engineering (19.3%). At a younger age, girls
are less likely to rate their academic abilities
highly compared to their male peers,
resulting in a loss of STEM enrollment when
they enter college.
Girls are less likely to rate
their academic abilities highly
compared to male peers.
Barriers To Access
lack of time
At the same time, outdoor spaces are also in
need of a diversity and equity overhaul.
Though outdoor recreation is growing in
popularity nationwide, only 25% of
lack of information
fear of being hurt by others
self-reported participants in outdoor
activities were non-white.5 Self-reported
barriers to access include the cost of outdoor
recreation, lack of time and information,
travel distance to outdoor recreation areas,
and a fear of being hurt by others.
Diversity in science leads to
Broadening participation in outdoor
recreation is about more than outreach - it is
also about toppling the dominant narrative
of the outdoors as a place where fit, white,
heterosexual men discover themselves and
untouched places — a narrative that
forwards settler-colonial and exclusionary
notions of who participates in what types of
GOALS addresses inequity and
under-representation in both STEM fields
and outdoor spaces through a
wilderness-based, immersive science and
leadership education program for femaleand
particularly those who may be further
marginalized in STEM and outdoor spaces
due to their race, sexual orientation,
socioeconomic status, gender identity,
immigration status, religion, or other
4Nielsen et al. (2017)
STEM education and outdoor education
are intrinsically connected; for example,
place-based science education that takes
place in the outdoors has been linked to
enhanced student academic
achievement, increased stewardship
behaviors, and the development of a sense
of self-efficacy (Place-Based Education
Evaluation Collaborative). Additionally,
mental and emotional skills, including
perseverance through difficulty,
developed through participating in
outdoor activities can benefit students in
their academic life.
STEM education and
YEAR ONE: BY THE NUMBERS
GOALS embodies the radical notion that girls – inclusive of all trans*, cis, genderqueer, and
nonbinary youth who identify with girlhood – are scientists and leaders who are already
changing the world. We invite youth to see themselves this way through community science
projects and youth-led independent research projects, as well as through a social justice
teaching model of leadership. We help them develop the tools to succeed through a
culturally sustaining, place-based curriculum and structured guidance from female and
non-binary National Parks leaders and university scientists. In this way, GOALS builds capacity
for the next generation of STEM leaders.
The 2018 GOALS program served 7 youth scholars from the Sacramento area and employed
two UC Davis undergraduate students as trip leaders. The summer program lasted for 15 days,
13 of which were spent camping in Sequoia National Park. The scholars participated in two
backpacking trips, hiking a total of over 40 miles and spending 7 nights in the backcountry.
Scholars engaged in place-based, experiential scientific and leadership learning, contributed
to two community science projects identified as research priorities by the park, and
developed and implemented their own independent field research experiments, which they
presented to the public at the program’s closing symposium at UC Davis.
Following the summer program, the GOALS scholars have the opportunity to participate in a
year-long one-on-one mentoring program. All scholars have been matched with a mentor
from UC Davis including undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdocs. Scholars
meet monthly with their mentors to continue conversations about science, leadership, career
goals, and identity development that began during the summer program. All mentors receive
training and monthly meeting resources to help them best support the youth scholars.
We designed this program to foster symbiotic self-reinforcing relationships among Scholars
(Sacramento area youth), Trip Leaders (UC Davis undergraduate students), SEKI, and Program
Organizers (UC Davis undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and faculty), who all benefit
from this program.
GOALS builds capacity for gender and racially diverse people to excel in STEM (science, technology,
engineering, and math) and the outdoors in the following ways:
Diversity, Equity, and
are paid and
No cost for
joy in being
Leave No Trace
barriers to the
Science, Tech, Engineering, Math
to two citizen
related to CA
science and the
for practices of
to DEI in
how to talk
and skills to
of science 12
Following the GOALS program,
scholars self-reported increases in:
• Belief in self as leader
• Belief in self as scientist
• Belief in ability to go backpacking
• Ability to apply the scientific method to real world
• Interest in outdoor activities
• Awareness of science, leadership, and the outdoors
in everyday life
• Confidence in ability to get into college of choice
Additionally, they reported attitudinal shifts in
two leadership behaviors:
• Consciousness of self
• Controversy with civility
Total revenue: $24,491
John Muir Institute for the Environment Seed Funding
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Community Action Grant
National Geographic Society Early Career Award
Graduate Student Association, UC Davis
Total cost: $11,103
Trip Leader Stipends
GOALS was made possible by the hard work of many individuals across numerous organizations.
The GALS program at Duke University provided the initial inspiration and framework for GOALS,
and ongoing support from Duke GALS and other GALS programs across the country has been
crucial for program development. The John Muir Institute for the Environment (JMIE) contributed
extensive administrative and financial support, without which implementing a program like this
would have been impossible. We especially thank the following folks from JMIE: Diane Kruger,
Lindsey Dunn, Jenny Nickell, Ben Houlton, Mabel Oen, Mark Schwartz, Jeffrey Clary, Shane
Waddell, Sara Nicholls, and Sarah Oktay .
Sequoia National Park was a critical partner, and planning the program logistics would have been
impossible without their energetic collaboration. In particular, the creative vision, enthusiasm, and
hard work of Christy Brigham, Koren Nydeck, Annie Esperanza, and Kelly Martin at Sequoia
National Park were integral to the program’s success.
We are also grateful to our 2018 grantors, the American Association of University Women and the
National Geographic Society , for their financial support of this work. GOALS was also funded by
community support through Davis community fundraising and an online crowdfunding
Finally, we thank the volunteers at UC Davis who spent countless hours dreaming up and
executing GOALS in our first year. Our founding GOALS leadership team consisted of Katy
Dynarski, Kait Murray, Olivia Winokur, Iris Holzer, Mary Clapp, Hannah Waterhouse, Jennifer
Schmidt, Aviva Fiske, Noelle Patterson, Karen Holcomb, and Emily Pacoe.
We are excited to build on the successes and lessons of the 2018 program! Based on feedback
from program participants and volunteers, some opportunities for growth in 2019 include:
• More in-person outreach/advertising in Sacramento area high schools to
more effectively reach our students who would most benefit from
participation in GOALS
• Streamlining curriculum
• Involving more park scientists and introducing participants to more
scientific research projects currently being carried out in the park
• Purchasing key backcountry equipment items
• Designing rigorous, IRB-approved research about scientific leadership
identity development based on the GOALS program
• Career development and exposure for program alumnae
National Science Foundation. (2017) Special Report NSF 17-310.
Xu, Y. (2017) Attrition of Women in STEM: Examining Job/Major Congruence in the Career
Choices of College Graduates. Journal of Career Development, 44(1):3-19.
Anaya, Lina and Stafford, Frank P. and Zamarro, Gema, Gender Gaps in Math Performance,
Perceived Mathematical Ability and College STEM Education: The Role of Parental Occupation
(November 10, 2017). EDRE Working Paper No. 2017-21.
Nielsen, M. et al. (2017) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(8):1740-1742.
Outdoor Industry Association. (2016) Outdoor Recreation Participation Report.
Sobel, D. (2004). Place-based education: Connecting classroom and community. Nature and
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Carsten Conner, L. D., Perin, S. M., & Pettit, E. (2018). Tacit knowledge and girls’ notions about a
field science community of practice. International Journal of Science Education, Part B, 8(2),
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pedagogy? A loving critique forward. Harvard Educational Review, 84(1), 85-100.
Dennehy, T. C., & Dasgupta, N. (2017). Female peer mentors early in college increase women’s
positive academic experiences and retention in engineering. Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, 114(23), 5964-5969.
Bonney, R., Phillips, T. B., Ballard, H. L., & Enck, J. W. (2016). Can citizen science enhance public
understanding of science?. Public Understanding of Science, 25(1), 2-16.
Stets, J. E., Brenner, P. S., Burke, P. J., & Serpe, R. T. (2017). The science identity and entering a
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