Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science - Resource Interpretation



First Advisor

Dr. Matthew McBroom

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Barrie

Third Advisor

Dr. Shelby Laird

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Pat Stephens Williams


This qualitative study explored the success and outcome of the Yosemite Leadership Program (YLP) through its foundation in the Social Change Model of Leadership Development. There are research studies of collegiate programming and the Social Change Model (SCM); however, a literature review uncovered the limited amounts of research around leadership programming connecting collegiate students to their gateway public lands sites. The goal of this research was to identify how the SCM could be used to implement methods and practices of leadership development with college students in partnership with a public lands agency. The specific leadership development themes that were explored included connecting youth to their public lands, having them evaluate their own leadership journey, facilitating their development of the courage to move beyond their comfort zones, and having them evaluate why this type of program is so critical. These themes were garnered from the interviews with program managers, participants, and alumni. The research led to the development of the Public Lands Social Change Model of Leadership Development. This model employed a set of tertiary codes from the SCM to categorize the participants’ knowledge and experiences. This research also includes recommendations for future collegiate programming connecting youth to their public lands. The following critical components for youth programming were observed. First, communication is foundational for individuals, groups, and community members moving towards positive change. Next, collaboration and partnerships are important because they provide resources, networking, and motivation for participants. Finally, a sense of community and belonging among the participants is crucial for building safe spaces and friendships. Participants were particularly grateful for the cohort family dynamics that developed through the program. The YLP is a win/win for the students, universities, natural resources agencies, and society as a whole since programs like this results in a greater motivation for college retention and degree completion for these at risk students as well as an enhanced connection to parks and natural areas facilitating their develop as future leaders in natural resources conservation.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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