Whiskeytown Environmental School

A Science Program for Students

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1960s Photo of people at WES Camp
1960s photos of people at WES Camp

Early School History

The campus sits at the confluence of Clear Creek and Paige Boulder Creek, nestled at the base of Shasta Bally, the tallest mountain in what is today Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, and within the ancestral homelands of the Elpom band of the Wintu people.  During the Gold Rush, the area was explored and mined for gold.  In the 1950s it was developed as a church-affiliated summer camp known as the  “Vision Valley Youth Camp.” It was deeded to the National Park Service (NPS) for the development of “Clear Creek National Environmental Education Camp” in 1969.  Now known as WES or the N.E.E.D. Camp, the school operates through a formal partnership between National Park Service (NPS) and the Shasta County Office of Education (SCOE).

Programming at Whiskeytown Environmental School

Science is the primary focus of instruction at WES, while also nurturing social and emotional learning.  With the development of outdoor recreation skills, students acquire a sense of place and a concern for the stewardship of our outdoor places.  WES provides an immersive, hands-on science experience to students. The curriculum incorporates California’s adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).   

WES is a public, residential school serving K-6 students in  5-day overnight programs, 1-day programs, and  week-long summer day camps. The school has earned a Residential Outdoor Science School Certification (ROSS) accreditation from the California Outdoor Schools Association (COSA).  This important accreditation signifies that standards for curriculum, staffing, and the health and safety of students have been met.  

For further information on current programming at WES, visit the web page for Shasta County Office of Education.

Kids sitting in front of NEED Camp sign

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The Experts – Student Testimonials

Read what our experts have to say!  These letters were collected by classroom teachers and sent to WES after students returned to their classrooms.  They are reproduced as the students wrote them, without corrections for grammar, punctuation, or spelling.  Letters are often addressed to their naturalist. Enjoy WES as perceived by students from kindergarten through sixth grade.

Environmental Education Articles and Research

A Legacy of Learning at Whiskeytown Environmental School

An interview with Ellen Petrick, a leading NPS environmental educator at 5 national parks including Whiskeytown NRA.

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North American Association for Environmental Education

A research review source on the benefits of environmental education for K-12 students.

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Education Resources Information Center (ERIC)

An authoritative database of education literature and resources.

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National Park Foundation

Addressing Americans’ interest in parks as classrooms, National Park Foundation and Union Pacific Railroad invest in programs connecting kids to parks as places of learning.

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