Partnering for the Future: Our New Connections program pilot

April 23, 2024

Posted in: News Articles

At the heart of Ag + Open Space’s commitment to both the land and the future are growing relationships with the communities and organizations who share a common mission. Ag + Open Space, in partnership with several local nonprofit partners, is not only dedicated to preserving the diverse agricultural, natural resource, and scenic open space lands of this region but also to empowering the next generation of leaders who will steward these lands for years to come.

In March, a new collaboration was born – one that brought together the forces of land conservation and educational justice. To kickoff the pilot of our New Connections program,  Ag + Open Space worked with ¡DALE!, a program aimed at empowering high school students to address educational justice in their schools, and Sonoma Land Trust to create an fresh opportunity for youth engagement in the great outdoors. New Connections aims to work with nonprofit partners to provide free outings on Ag + Open Space conserved lands, with a special focus on engaging communities that have been historically excluded in land conservation work.

Students kayaking at Riverfront Park

This outdoor experience was a memorable kayaking trip at Riverfront Regional Park, where nine high school students embarked on a journey through the tranquil waters of the park. For many of these students, it was their first time visiting Riverfront, and for most, it was their inaugural experience kayaking. As they paddled through the lush landscapes and navigated the gentle currents, they not only connected with nature but also with each other, forging bonds that transcended their diverse backgrounds and experiences.

This collaboration was more than just a day on Lake Benoist – it was a symbol of hope, empowerment, and possibility. By providing these students with access to outdoor experiences and leadership opportunities, we are investing in the future stewards of our land and communities. Through initiatives like New Connections, we are strengthening student skills, fostering community connections, and co-creating a pipeline of youth organizers and leaders who are committed to environmental stewardship and justice in Sonoma County.