The GOALS program includes a two-week, immersive backpacking component as well as a year-long one-on-one mentoring component. The immersive program involves a combination of hiking, front country (access to a car) and backcountry camping, and staying in dorms at UC Davis. During two five-day backcountry excursions, participants engage in hands-on learning and will complete small scientific investigations of their own. Their trek culminates in the completion of a scientific experiment of each participant’s own design, which they present on the last day. Take a look at a sample itinerary:

  • Day 0: Orientation at UC Davis, where we’ll get to know each other and our gear. Stay in UC Davis dorms and get a feel for the campus!
  • Days 1-2: Drive to Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park. We’ll go over basic outdoor skills and learn how to pack our backpacks, and go for a hike to get introduced to the area. We’ll spend our first night at a “front-country” campsite in the park, where we’ll have access to the car, bathrooms, and running water.
  • Days 3-7: First backpacking trip! While hiking and camping, you’ll learn about all kinds of scientific topics, get to know your team better, and participate in citizen science projects. We’ll hike back to our front-country campsite day 7.
  • Days 8-9: We’ll spend two nights back at our front-country campsite. While we’re there, we’ll meet with park rangers and learn more about the national park, as well as go for another day hike and learn about independent projects.
  • Days 10-13: Second backpacking trip! We’ll continue to learn various scientific topics, participate in hands-on activities, and everyone will get time to work on their own independent experiment. We’ll hike back to our front-country campsite on day 14, where we’ll spend the night before returning to Davis.
  • Day 14: Return to Davis and stay in UC Davis dorms.
  • Day 15: Prepare short presentations about independent projects in the morning, and present to parents and friends at our final symposium in the afternoon.

GOALS is an outdoors experience that will expose you to hands-on science projects. GOALS means working in tight quarters with 7-9 other girls. Some of the challenges you can expect include keeping a positive attitude, physical endurance (hiking for 6 miles with a 40-pound backpack), being away from home (and your phone) during the 2 week trip, getting along with your peers night and day, critters and dirt (your tent mate’s smelly socks), being asked questions that no one knows the answers to (welcome to science), and creative problem-solving, to name a few. While some of these may sound a little scary, we believe they are also what make the experience so much fun and such a great learning experience. We are confident that you will have fun and want to make the outdoors a bigger part of your life.

All GOALS scholars are paired with a UC Davis mentor, who will serve as a mentor before and after the immersive summer program. Mentor-mentee pairs will meet informally throughout the year following, as well as attend follow-up events to help prepare participants for college applications and expose them to a variety of STEM careers and female STEM role models.