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Home News Blog WTA Partner Profile: Y.E.T.I. Gets Kids Outside While Building Community

WTA Partner Profile: Y.E.T.I. Gets Kids Outside While Building Community

Posted by Jessi Loerch at Feb 28, 2023 03:57 PM |

Since 2015, WTA has been collaborating with the Youth Experiential Training Institute (Y.E.T.I.), which works to make it easier for young people in South King County to get outdoors. Building community is at the heart of their work. WTA's Outdoor Leadership Training program provides gear and resources for Y.E.T.I.'s outings.Their work fits in well with our vision of Trails for Everyone, Forever, and we're so excited to see the program keep growing.

Since 2015, WTA has been collaborating with the Youth Experiential Training Institute (Y.E.T.I.). Their mission is to lower barriers to access outdoor recreation for young people in South King County. Y.E.T.I. achieves this through after school clubs, weekend trips and custom programs, with a focus on schools. Building community is at the heart of their work. 

WTA’s Outdoor Leadership Training program has provided gear and resources for more than 30 Y.E.T.I. outings, which have led to more than 300 outdoor experiences. Their work fits in well with our vision of Trails for Everyone, Forever. We have loved to see the program grow and evolve over the years and are excited to continue supporting their work in communities to get students outdoors.  

Four kids sit on a bluff overlooking saltwater as the sun sets.
Students on an outing to Deception Pass State Park. Photo by Sean McNally.

Why Partner with Schools?

“Public schools are an essential resource hub in our students’ lives. We realize that to effectively engage those young people who face the highest barriers to accessing outdoor experiences, we can’t just be a satellite organization, we have to be one that is deeply embedded in their community,” said Sean McNally, program director for Y.E.T.I. 

Y.E.T.I. is currently offering outdoor experiences for students at two high schools, three middle schools, and one elementary school in the Highline and Tukwila school districts. 

Y.E.T.I. trips have included hiking, biking, climbing, kayaking, fishing, backpacking and snowshoeing. They offer day trips, overnight campouts and expedition style trips. 

“As long as it is outdoors, fun and human powered, we are open to finding a way to facilitate it,” Sean said. 

Fun, adventure, self-directed free time and social time are all elements of a successful Y.E.T.I. outing. 

Throughout the years, WTA’s outdoor leadership training program has supported Y.E.T.I. with gear, including snowshoes, warm layers, hiking boots, tents, sleeping bags and rain gear, to help equip the students for adventure. 

“Man, this is the coolest thing I’ve done in a long time,” said a student who attended a Y.E.T.I. after-school kayaking trip. 

Students in kayaks smile on a sunny day.
Students on a Y.E.T.I. kayaking trip. Photo by Sean McNally.

Last school year, one of those trips was a snowshoe outing to Gold Creek Pond for Highline High School’s environmental science club. 

“They were so excited to be a part of the snowshoe trip,” Sean said. 

The students in the club are passionate about the environment but do not have many opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. During their trip, the students got to learn about different impacts of I-90, and the different restoration projects and wildlife mitigation programs happening in the area. 

And teachers are able to join the trips, too! Having teachers attend allows for Y.E.T.I. to deliver programs with familiar faces for the students. 

One teacher said about one student, who usually isn’t particularly excited to be at school, “he is always so excited to be at school on a Y.E.T.I. day.” 

A kid holds a small crab on a beach.
A student holds a crab on a trip to the beach. Photo by Sean McNally.

Y.E.T.I. hears consistent feedback that participants want to see more trips. 

“Teachers, students and parents are all very excited when they hear about the work we’re doing,” Sean said. “With every school we expand to, the demand for these types of programs continues to grow and our trips continue to fill.” 

The outings give so much to the youth, including chances to make valuable connections to other people, in addition to outdoor places.

After a hike to Tallapus and Ollalie Lakes, a trip leader wrote that “One of the boys on the trip has been having a hard time adjusting to a new school and making friends. Right before the trip his mom had introduced me to his teacher who was super excited to start planning trips with her class. On the way down I was talking with the boy and he was really excited about sharing Y.E.T.I. with his classmates.”

This year, Y.E.T.I.’s goal is to lead 60 trips across all school locations and they are on track to exceed that goal. 

We know that time outside is powerful, and we can’t wait to hear about their next trips!