Skip to content


Firefighters working Yosemite National Park and boarding helicopter.


There is no similar partnership - based on a university pairing with professional veterans affairs experts and the National Park Service - that offers a combination of classroom, field, and network experience. The setting in Yosemite National Park - the first federally authorized wilderness park in the world - is unique. Yosemite is a marvelously complex park with a wide range of occupational types that provides an excellent setting for learning about career opportunities in America's land management agencies.

The Yosemite Veterans Education and Leadership Seminar recognize that many veterans are not sure of what their educational, health and career benefits are and how you go about activating them. This course will take the mystery out of accessing veterans' benefits - and light up the path in a clear, realistic way that helps the participants finish and move into certain job sectors with a competitive edge. The course will be taught by experts in veterans policy, college procedures, and federal and state careers. In the mornings, the course will be a series of classroom presentations that explore how to get into school and the additional benefits that asset the veteran in getting into careers. In the afternoons, the course will get outside in the Yosemite National Park and will be led by veterans and supporters who work for the National Park Service and other organizations, who will demonstrate a wide range of occupational types that are available as careers.

The participants will leave the seminar with a clear understanding of how to work toward an exciting, satisfying career path that includes the right level of education for their personal objectives. They will also finish the seminar with a new cohort of friends that they can communicate with informally in support of education and career goals. The course will provide each graduate with a course resource kit that will serve as a take-home resource of network and resource contacts.


If you are a veteran who is interested in learning how to activate and make the best use of their GI Bill and related authorities to attain educational, health, community support, and employment benefits. A priority will be placed on applicants from the Central San Joaquin Valley in this program, however, all veterans are welcome to apply and will be considered.

All of the partners understand the importance of education in a flourishing liberal and free society and that careers for people of all backgrounds are a strength of American culture. All of the partners seek inclusivity in their workforces to assure that this strength is realized. Veterans offer an incomparable pool of recruitable, diverse, experienced people who have proven their capacity for the highest levels of service and are prime candidates toward these objectives.

We also understand that sometimes vets face tough hurdles and we would like to work with them to smooth out the path toward their eventual success as an expression of our acknowledgment for their personal investment in the security and well-being of the country.


The course will actually take place between the City of Merced and Yosemite National Park, both inside and out of doors. Casual, outdoor clothing will be appropriate. No formal attire is necessary. Temperatures will probably range from the high-90’s F in Merced to the high low 50’s at night in the park. Participants should be prepared to dress in layers and bring comfortable walking shoes: attendees in wheelchairs will be provided assistance. Before every day in the field, there will be a safety briefing that will cover terrain, wildlife, temperature, weather and any other environmental factors likely to be encountered.


Yes. Part of the seminar will take place on trails and pathways in the park, however, we will do everything we can to ensure access for all participants.


Normally the cost would be $850 USD per participant, however, the cost is being generously underwritten by Merced Sunrise Rotary and the Yosemite Conservancy, so there is no tuition charge in 2023. Once the group meets at noon on the October 4th all course-related costs (including meals, lodging, and travel logistics) will be covered until 5:00 PM on October 6, 2023. Non-course-related costs such as purchasing souvenirs in Yosemite will be the responsibility of the participants and not the university.


The application period closes on August 15, 2024, or until all seats are full.