Applications are now open and are due March 29th at 11:59PM!

Thank you for your interest in becoming a 2019 GOALS scholar! Please read the following information and take a thorough look at our website before applying. 

Please note that this application requires two parts:

  1. Student application via Google docs using this link.
  2. Support form from an adult submitted using this link.  


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.

GOALS is an opportunity for people who have had that experience of walking into a classroom, a lab, or an outdoor space and finding that no one else looked like them. GOALS was created to increase opportunities for high school students who are from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). We particularly encourage people of color, trans, nonbinary, genderqueer, and LGBTQ+ people to apply. If you’ve doubted that you belong in STEM or the outdoors, GOALS is for you.

GOALS wants to assemble a diverse team of students for our backcountry experience so we can all grow as scientists and leaders while exploring, sharing, and celebrating the many facets of our identities. These identities can include:

  • Race and ethnicity,
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity,
  • Cultural background and upbringing,
  • Hometown and family dynamics,
  • Personality,
  • Socioeconomic status or class,
  • Languages spoken at home,
  • Education level of family members,
  • Immigration status,
  • Body size and ability,
  • Religious or spiritual identity, and
  • Other identities and life experiences.

The purpose of this application is for us to understand how you view yourself, the role you will play on this trip, and the role this trip will play in your life. There are no right or wrong answers! However, the questions below all have character limits. Our most successful applicants typically use almost all of the allotted space.


ALL of the following statements must be met in order to be eligible for GOALS. Please send us an email if you are unsure if you meet these requirements. You must:

  • Be a rising junior in high school (completing 10th grade in Spring 2019)
  • Identify with girlhood (we welcome all trans, cis, genderqueer, and non-binary youth)
  • Live within 35 miles of Davis, CA 95616
  • Be available for the trip, scheduled to take place from 07/13/2019 to 07/28/2019, as well as a pre-trip orientation hike in Davis on 6/15/2019
  • Be interested in learning more about science and the outdoors
  • Want to work as a member of a team
  • Be able to hike with a backpack


GOALS is an outdoors experience that will expose you to hands-on science projects. GOALS means working in tight quarters with a 7 other girls. GOALS can be both a physically and mentally challenging program. We’ve designed the days so that all participants will be able to complete the hikes, with plenty of time for breaks during the hikes and downtime to decompress. 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.


As mentioned above, your application requires two components:

The support form can be filled out and submitted by any adult that knows you well and is not related to you. This can be a teacher, counselor, coach, spiritual leader, or any other adult not related to you. It is your responsibility to contact an adult support and make sure they submit the form by March 29th, 2019 at 11:59. This is the same due date for the student application.


The application will be completed in Google forms. Once you have started the application, you will not be able to save it. This application asks you to complete short essay questions. Before you begin, type out the answers to these essays in a Word Document and save them. Since you are not able to save your answers in the application as you go, we do not recommend drafting your essays in the application. The essays are:

1) We want to get to know you! Tell us about yourself. You can include information about your background, interests, and hobbies, a particular challenge you faced, as well as anything else that you feel is important for us to know. (1500 characters max)

Your answer can also include something creative such as a poem, drawing, song, story, photo, or a short video. If you choose to submit a drawing or photo, you can include it as part of your application or mail it to: GOALS at UC Davis, John Muir Institute for the Environment, The Barn, UC Davis, 1 Shields Ave, Davis CA 95616. If you choose to make a video, please include a YouTube link.

2) Why do you want to participate in this program? What are you hoping to gain and learn from the experience? For an ideas of what you might experience on a GOALS trip, check out our website, for stories from past scholars and general information about the program. (1500 characters max)

3) Describe your interest in science. Your answer can include something you learned in school or a scientific discovery that you think is important or interesting. (1000 characters max)

4) How will you contribute to the diversity of the team? (1000 characters max). We are looking to build a diverse team – diverse in terms of ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, hometowns, upbringing, personalities, identities and life experiences. Tell us what makes you unique!


You must answer all questions and have a support form submitted for your application to be considered complete. If you are unable to fill out the online form, please email for a downloadable application, fill it out, and mail to: GOALS at UC Davis, John Muir Institute for the Environment, The Barn, 1 Shields Ave, Davis CA 95616. All materials must be submitted online or received in the mail by March 29, 2019.


Applications are due March 29th at 11:59 PM.

If you are mailing your application, March 29th is also the deadline to receive any mailed applications. If you apply online, you are not required to mail anything. You will be notified of admissions decisions by April 16th.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

When you are ready, please apply via Google forms using this link.

Full Group
The 2018 GOALS team! (not pictured: trip leader Sage)