Best education program
What didn’t happen here: Kids whose only exposure to nature is a glimpse of a tree in a video game.
Why it’s a winner: The Wildlands Conservancy uses its Southern California nature preserves to introduce the outdoors to the Justin Bieber generation—25,000 kids annually, many of whom come from families at or below poverty level. Its size and emphasis on bringing nature to kids who otherwise wouldn’t experience it make the Wildlands Conservancy one of the most ambitious environmental-ed programs anywhere. And the kids’ reviews would do Yelp proud: “I learned many new things. First, we all went to pick one pretty rock that shines in the sun and we got to see animals. Thank you for everything.”
Take a look: You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy Wildlands’ preserves. One good one? Wind Wolves Preserve, in Kern County, 95,000 acres where the San Joaquin Valley meets the Transverse Ranges. Sat–Sun; free; wildlandsconservancy.org