Youth Stewardship Program

The Youth Stewardship Program (YSP) runs from October through June of each year and engages youth groups 2nd-12th grade in environmental education and service-learning field trips in parks citywide.

Our mission is to foster in youth an understanding of their important role in building healthy social and natural communities.

YSP exposes urban students to an outdoor learning environment that proves to be engaging and challenging. Students are taught science, environmental education, local natural and cultural history, social responsibility, a personal connection to their communities, and fundamental life skills. Each trip is between 1.5-3 hrs and includes an environmental education component and restoration component.

The program is free of cost and available to any youth group in San Francisco.

Youth groups seeking restoration focused trips or opportunities outside of our October-June season should complete our Volunteer Division Group Request Form.

Youth Stewardship Program Kick Off Series!

Our Youth Stewardship Program (YSP) engages youth 2nd-12th grade in environmental education and service learning field trips in parks and open spaces city wide. We are hosting three YSP Kick-Off events for teachers to learn more about our free programming, meet our environmental educators, and register for classes for the … Continue reading

We Have Extended the Greenager Application Deadline to April 20th, 2019

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and Port of San Francisco Greenager Program is an outdoor youth leadership program created and designed to offer early high school teens a chance to play an important role in the community by improving the city’s green spaces through stewardship, engagement, raising awareness, … Continue reading

YSP is a school year program that runs from October through May each year. To get involved, fill out the application to the right on behalf of your classroom or youth group. Our application opens in September every year. We schedule on a first-come first-serve basis, with preference given to long-term supporters of the program.

What Program Options are there?

Our program offers field trips to natural areas and parks near your school. Each field trip consists of environmental education activities and hands-on habitat restoration.

Within each program, educators can choose from 5 core themes: Sense of Place, Plant Adaptations, Water and Soil, Animal Adaptations, and Interdependence. Activities within each theme can be tailored to meet your group’s current educational focus and any special needs.

Where are trips FACILITATED?

Trips are limited to the parks and open spaces within the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. That means that educators have over 220 parks to choose from. However, we ask that you consider several factors when selecting a park such as:

  • your group size
  • size of the park
  • your group's age and whether or not access to a bathroom is essential
  • what you want your youth to gain from the experience
  • and lastly, your proximity and ease of transportation to and from the park

In partnership with the Port of San Francisco, the Youth Stewardship Program also facilitates fieldtrips at Heron's Head Park (HHP). Trips at HHP touch on environmental justice principles, wetland ecology and watersheds.

What is the cost to participate in this program?

Nothing. All Youth Stewardship Programming is free of charge.  Following our free services we ask that participating educators encourage their students to continue healthy engagement and stewardship of the parks, refer us to a new teacher, teach students about the San Francisco Children's Bill of Rights, and complete our feedback survey so that we can continue to improve our program and offer free services to educators city-wide.

When SHOULD I apply?

As soon as our application opens. Our application opens in September and by December, our Full and Abbreviated programs are fully booked for the year.

To support new and veteran educators with sign-up, we will be hosting 3 Kick-Off events:

  • Friday, August 30th from 5:30-6:30pm at the EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park
  • Thursday, September 12th from 6:00-7:00pm at Boeddeker Clubhouse
  • Wednesday, September 18th from 5:30-6:30pm at Sunset Recreation Center

Please join us for more information on the program!

Over 20,920 youth served since 1997.

Accomplishments: 2017-2018

  • 1,761 student participants served
  • 155 educators and youth group leaders served
  • 26 classroom visits
  • 255 fieldtrips facilitated citywide
  • 31 Natural Areas, Parks and Open Spaces stewarded
  • 5,795 total hours of restoration facilitated
  • 3,982 total hours of education provided

Student Voices:

"It was 2 thumbs up!"  -3rd grade student, Grattan Elementary, Buena Vista Park

"I liked seeing wild things." -3rd grade student, Guadalupe Elementary, McLaren Park

“I really enjoyed the Youth Stewardship Program for many reasons. First, I like how kind they were to me and the respect they gave me. Second, I really like learning about the native plants and animals. Another thing I enjoyed was the freedom I had at McLaren Park. Finally, I like pulling weeds and invasive plants from the ground because I got exercise.”   -Dante, 5th grade E.R. Taylor Elementary, McLaren Park

“In a book you can read and see a plant, but you can’t smell feel and taste in a book.” -5th grade student, West Portal Elementary, Pine Lake

“The Youth Stewardship Program was one of the best programs that I have even been in. It combines learning, fun, and environmental awareness in one big great experience. Where is there not to like? We do stuff like getting rid of cape ivy, pulling out nonnative plants, water testing, and games. It actually makes learning fun…” -7th grade student, Aptos Middle School, Pine Lake

Teacher Voices:

“The program gives students – largely “city kids” with little outdoor experiences – an opportunity to learn about their natural communities and shows them how they can become responsible caretakers for these natural areas. It’s the best kind of learning: interactive, hands-on, service-oriented… the list goes on!” -Kay Kirman, Miraloma Elementary, Glen Canyon '15

“This class gave me such HOPE that if you expose kids to the natural world without putting pressure on them, just for the pure reason to enjoy learning through play, THEY DELIVER! These students whom I was truly afraid would whine each trip, SHOWED ME that kids do want to matter and be respected and yes, working hard is a way to show their teachers and themselves that they can contribute and make a difference.” -Cheryl McCue, West Portal Elementary, Pine Lake '15

“It is not possible for me to isolate any one factor that results in a student's changed attitude. I believe, however, that YSP plays a significant part in my students' experiences that contribute to an overall appreciation, understanding, and enjoyment of nature.”-Gil Guillermo, Bryant Elementary, Glen Canyon '18

"The number one thing that I value is getting the kids to realize the resource that they have available minutes from their home. McLaren Park has so many diverse areas and this opened their eyes to areas that most of them have normally not used, explored, or enjoyed. I want this to be their introduction to all kinds of wonders that are right next door and for free!!!" - Dave Mahon, Guadalupe Elementary, McLaren Park '18

San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department

YSP is a city program that engages San Francisco youth in local parks.

Natural Resources Division (NRD)

The Natural Resources Division (NRD) is the branch of San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (SFRPD) responsible for managing the City’s Natural Areas. The mission of the Program is two-fold: to preserve, restore, and enhance remnant Natural Areas, and to develop and support community-based site stewardship of these areas. The initial impetus for the Program came from several local grassroots environmental organizations that recognized the value of the “Significant Natural Resource Areas” in supporting habitat for native plants and wildlife; ecosystem functions such as soil and water retention; and socioeconomic values, as well as being outdoor classrooms and living museums protecting natural heritage.

The Student Conservation Association

SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.


To improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering.

Port of San Francisco

The Port of San Francisco manages the waterfront as the gateway to a world-class city, and advances environmentally and financially sustainable maritime, recreational and economic opportunities to serve the City, Bay Area, and California.

Jewish Vocational Services

The Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) transforms lives by helping people build skills and find work to achieve self-sufficiency.

Alemany Farm

Friends of Alemany Farm grows food security and educates local residents about how they can become their own food producers. We strive to increase ecological knowledge and habitat value, and to sow the seeds for economic and environmental justice. All of the food we grow is given away for free—to neighbors, volunteers, The Free Farm Stand, and other groups.

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