Apply to the Leadership Academy!

FALL 2019 Leadership Academy

Applications for the FALL 2019 term (July – November 2019) are now OPEN. Applications are due Thursday, July 11th, 2019.

Our Goal

To find, educate, develop and encourage environmental stewards to care for our public lands and to advocate for the protection and enhancement of our mountains, forests, rivers, parks, and urban open spaces.

Our Work

The Leadership Academy is a five-month training program of Nature For All that focuses on developing organizing and advocacy skills, civic engagement, and local community action.

Our Progress

Since 2011, the Leadership Academy has graduated 15 cohorts and a total of 165 individuals.

Leadership Academy Projects: Academy graduates have successfully executed 60+ community engagement projects around Los Angeles, San Gabriel Valley, and in the San Fernando Valley. Projects have included leading educational bike tours of the watershed area; organizing community workshops to raise awareness on protecting public lands among park-poor communities; and painting trash receptacles along the West and East forks of the San Gabriel River.

Read more about Leadership Academy projects.

Learn more about the Leadership Academy.

Leadership Academy Spotlight: Joel Glen


How did you hear about the Leadership Academy and what inspired you to apply for the program?
I heard about the Leadership Academy through a Facebook link. What inspired me my mission to clean up the East Fork after my good friend passed away. I feel he would have wanted me to do something like this.

What was your project?
East Fork’s Golden Preservation was my project. I wanted to eliminate as much trash on the East Fork as possible and create awareness of what’s going on before it gets any worse.

What’s the best thing you learned?
I learned that people can come from a good cause. People really want make a difference, but sometimes, all we need is a leader. I was just one of the leaders. I wasn’t able to this by myself. Group effort was involved. Thanks again to Daisy from Trash Free Earth, as well as everybody who came out. You all are the true heroes.

What surprised you about the program or your work on the project?
What surprised me were a few things, including the amount of trash we picked up within two hours (713 pounds!) and the people who woke up early to help out. I’m still thankful for them. Other surprises were the obstacles I had to hurdle over to make my project go off… Those being people dropping out.

Describe what being in the great outdoors means to you.
Being in the great outdoors means more to me than you’ll ever know. I met some of the greatest people in the mountains. I feel people who love the mountains know themselves and have good energy. They are happy go-lucky people, and I like that.

What’s your favorite way to spend your day in the San Gabriel Mountains?
Prospecting, camping, hiking, truck camping, All the above. Need I say more?

What has post-academy life been like?
Post-academy life has been great. We are planning more cleanups this year and will be teaming up with Convert-A-Can to create double the awareness. To sum it all up, I’ll put it in a song lyric: “We’ve only just begun.”

Nature For All Celebrates 13th Leadership Academy Cohort Graduation

After completing six months of biweekly evening trainings, our 13th Leadership Academy cohort graduated on May 9, 2018!

Nature For All celebrated the graduation at the Jeff Seymour Family Center with keynote speaker David Diaz, Programs Director of BikeSGV. We presented the Leadership Academy participants with their diplomas, and Jenny Lopez spoke about her experience as the Leadership Academy student speaker. Graduate Liliana Griego also shared about how graduates can continue staying involved through the Stewards group, our core volunteer group.

Congratulations to our wonderful participants: Elizabeth Bayne, Monica Curiel, Reina Adelina Duran, Tiffany Kinh Lam, Jenny Lopez, Omar Madrid, Berenice Martinez, Remi Mateo, Rhonda Moller Mulherin, Audrey Murray, Melanie Nhan, Kimberly Orbe, Mary Pickert, Jesse Soria and Michelle Tarian! We wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.

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Leadership Academy Spotlight: Alejandra Sandoval


How did you hear about the Leadership Academy and what inspired you to apply for the program?

I heard about the Leadership Academy from a friend who had met Roberto Morales (Nature For All Coalition Chair) at a social event. I was inspired to apply for the program because of the opportunity to carry out a project in my own community.

What was your project?

My project was called Lions Leadership Academy. We engaged 25 fourth graders from Don Julian Elementary School. We held weekly workshops with topics that highlighted the importance of nature for mental health and wellbeing.

don julian elementary

  • Week 1: The kids planted a garden and took a planted seed home. They learned how to care for their seed at home.
  • Week 2: Mindfulness – yoga and art with nature in nature
  • Week 3: Equine Assisted Learning session – they learned about their responsibility to protect their world and discussed leave no trace concepts.
  • Week 4: Environmental Advocacy – visit to 4th Avenue Park to learn about our Nature For All campaign and protecting the San Gabriel Mountains, learning about native plants and animals, and enjoying a local park.
  • Week 5: Cooking from the garden – a healthy cooking class in which they created a salad inspired from their garden, as well as learning about the importance of advocating for the protection and access to public lands.
  • Week 6: Graduation! The kids used their iPads to create iMovies and spark videos to showcase all that they had learned and presented it to friends, family, and school district board members. We had s’mores, build your own trail mix, and a camping demo site and reinforced the leave no trace concepts. Each student received a certificate, every kid in a park pass and a copy of “The 7 Habits of Happy Kids” by Sean Covey.  

What’s the best thing you learned?

Nature truly makes an impact in our lives and has so much to teach us. For example, I thought we would magically have a full garden in 5 weeks. Well, Mother Nature is on her own schedule, and the life lesson here is to be patient.  

What surprised you about the program or your work on the project?

Kids today have little exposure to nature, and they actually enjoy it when they are given the opportunity and guidance to explore and learn from nature.  

Describe what being in the great outdoors means to you.

Being able to ride my horse out to the river and open trails.

What’s your favorite way to spend your day in the San Gabriel Mountains?

I have yet to explore the San Gabriel Mountains, but I would like to camp and be able to take my horse on a trail ride.

What has post-academy life been like?

Planning my next LLA! And looking to get out to the mountains.

Leadership Academy Spotlight: Dorothy Wong

sgmf dorothy Argyle DotDorothy Wong is a graduate of our Leadership Academy and was recently elected to the Altadena Town Council.

How did you hear about the Leadership Academy and what inspired you to apply for the program?

I found out about the Leadership Academy from BikeSGV and was eager to be a part of protecting our mountains while also having the opportunity to learn more about civic engagement and the opportunity to create projects for the betterment of the community.

What was your project?

To create an educational bike tour for young people to learn about the precious resource of water and the watershed, while also learning communication art skills to tell the story of their journey along the way and why protecting our lands and waters through the National Monument is vital. This creative content will be a tool shared broadly and especially to our civic leaders to support the need to protect open space. These young people will learn about the environment as well learn skills that may become their future life’s path.

What’s the best thing you learned?

The process in the classroom brought things together, so as a whole I would highly recommend the Leadership Academy to anyone who is looking for their next pathway.

What surprised you about the program or your work on the project?

It was great to see the coalition of organizations we were able to learn from, and to see how working together was bigger and better for the benefit of the movement. Supportive together, it’s strength.

Describe what being in the great outdoors means to you.

Being in nature is so calming, so fresh and is really bigger than me when I’m there. Its vastness can be an adventure. Getting away from the city noise. The great outdoors is beautiful and still so full of life. It works in harmony and balance when we let it be.

What’s your favorite way to spend your day in the San Gabriel Mountains?

It’s hard to say. I love walking with my dogs in the Arroyo Seco or Eaton Canyon while I test my skills riding mountain bikes up and down the trails in my home of Altadena. Paved ways by bike with friends we love to push ourselves climbing up and over the mountain roads and river paths as far at Mt Baldy Ski Lifts and sometimes all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

What has post-academy life been like?

The timing was so right with our national political leadership challenging our national monuments it was time to stand up and protect them. I felt more confident and knowledgable and ready to make change. A big moment was attending the Transportation Equity Summit hosted by Transform and Cal Bike in Sacramento, advocating and lobbying for support Transportation Equity themed Assembly Bills and seeing how it all worked by using my advocacy skills learned though the Academy. I was so excited from the momentum to make a difference, I took the opportunity to do so in my community and ran for Altadena Town Council — and much on the grounds of protecting open space and the environment. People rallied in support and I got out there to meet and speak to my neighbors about their concerns. I worked all the way up to the last minutes of the election and as a result got the highest votes!

Working together is what it’s all about, so I’ve been taking on opportunities to outreach provided by and in support of the SGMF coalition. Driven by my love of competition, I entered the National Monument Public Comment “Postcard Challenge” and reached out at events and in my community, as well as working alongside SGMF Leadership Academy alumni at events such as the REI Garage Sale to ask the public to be a voice and sign the postcards asking our Federal leaders to protect our lands and waters via National Monument designation. We help people understand why we need to protect more of it. I also recently attended Climate Day LA leadership conference. It was amazing to be a part of the enthusiasm to work on climate change issues and become leaders in reducing our impact on the planet. It all works together and what we do affects all on our planet… the great outdoors!

MORE: Feature in the Altadena Library newsletter

On the Ground Work Update: Guiding The Eagles to Their Nest Project

lilian hike group 220170405_141847

Leadership Academy graduate Liliana Camacho Guzman led a workshop at Drew Magnet High School, followed by an Eaton Canyon visit and hike with the students. As part of her project, Guiding The Eagles to Their Nest, she discussed environmental justice, access to green and open spaces, and our work in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and region, with the students.

“It was so rewarding seeing all these students enjoying themselves in their backyard,” said Liliana. “It was their first time wetting their feet (literally) in the San Gabriel Mountains. They can’t wait to go back with their friends and families!”