A note on the Vet program. In 2015 we brought together resources to pilot a military veteran mentorship of youth program. In 2016, we brought in a Master's in Social Work Candidate from USC with a veterans focus, and daughter of distinguished veterans herself, to help us develop curriculum for the vets mentor program. We had trouble identifying and recruiting. We then brought in a 5 year Marine Veteran, Atem, for this purpose. We hoped the connections in the veteran community would result in those vet mentors for WYLD, but unfortunately we were unable to get vets out for various reasons.
However, Atem did join us on most day hikes and did help guide on the 2017 summer’s Big Pine Creek trip 8 day backpack trip, and we continue to collaborate with him, even though he is no longer a formal employee. From the perspective of a Vet working with youth in the outdoors, the work Atem did on the trail was a huge success. The students took to Him and received great mentorship, and from his perspective, it was super clear that he was getting tremendous purpose out of working with the youth. From His work with us, and in politics, Atem was recognized as the 2017 California Military Veteran of the year from the CA legislature. From this pilot experience we learned that a military veteran mentorship of youth in the outdoors would be a very successful program, if we could pay the veteran mentors. However without such a budget, we cannot pursue the program in the same manner.
We are not giving up on this aspect of our organization and feel that WYLD would be a powerful fit for returning vets to mentor youth in their community, but we are removing the language from our mission and documents while we figure out our next steps. We would like to thank everyone who supported this particular aspect of our mission, and know that great headway was made in this endeavor, and we look forward to reintroducing it already up and running in the not-too-distant future. Our commitment to urban youth and outdoor ed continues to grow in exponential ways and is flourishing. Thanks everyone your commitment to getting youth in the outdoors.