Conservation… and Conversation

Greg Moore (left) and Colin Lind

Parks are where we dialogue with the natural world, our history, our heritage, and our neighbors.

In the sections below, you’ll read about our accomplishments in 2016, in partnership with the National Park Service and Presidio Trust. And you’ll also hear from people who have been affected — and profoundly changed — by that work.

Take a few minutes to meet these friends, and then head out to your Golden Gate National Parks to meet some more — people of all ages, creeds, beliefs, and backgrounds. Hear their stories, and share your own, on the precious common ground of our national parks.

Many thanks for your support,

Chair, Board of Trustees

President & CEO

2017: Connecting People & Parks

“[Park programs] are so important to our school because our children — especially children in Marin City — don’t really get an opportunity to explore their own backyard…and just enjoy nature.”

Royce McLemore

Director, Women Helping All People

For more than 20 years, Women Helping All People (WHAP)—a family resource center based in Marin City—has been engaged in outdoor education and volunteer programs in the Golden Gate National Parks. And since its founding in 2000, WHAP’s Scholastic Academy has been bringing its young scholars — in K through 8th grade — to the park for Conservancy-led habitat restoration projects and hands-on lessons in ecological stewardship, according to WHAP Director Royce McLemore. While learning the history of the land and contributing to its future, the kids also benefit from fresh air and the opportunity to “forget all the cares of their world.” “They can just be children,” Royce explains.

“I’m really grateful, as a service provider, for the Conservancy and for the parks being open to all of us and our families…because nature is the best medicine.”

Francisco Ferrer

Program Coordinator, Edgewood Center for Children & Families

Many residents of the Bayview and Visitacion Valley neighborhoods of San Francisco have never been in a forest — let alone a national park, according to Francisco Ferrer, a program coordinator for Edgewood Center for Children & Families (a nonprofit that helps youth and their families with mental and behavioral health issues). Five years ago, Edgewood began partnering with the Conservancy, Presidio Trust, and NPS to bring their community to Golden Gate on guided shuttle trips. Since then, hundreds have found comfort, joy, and fun at Crissy Field and other sites. “They pull their pants up, they get in, and they feel the water,” Francisco says. “That’s the magic that takes place.”

“You don’t want to just be able to enjoy the Presidio now, you want to be able to take your kids back to it, and your grandkids. That’s what plant nurseries help do.” — Caroline (right), 8th grade volunteer

Jennifer Provine &
Caroline & Cate

Volunteers, Presidio Native Plant Nursery

For a mom and two daughters busy with school, soccer, and other activities, finding quality time can be challenging. But two years ago, a mother-daughter group introduced Jennifer, Caroline (now in 8th grade), and Cate (7th grade) to the Presidio Native Plant Nursery. They have been avid volunteers ever since — collecting seeds, transplanting plants, pot-washing, and “giving grass haircuts” (Cate’s favorite). They talk, catch up, and learn together the wonders of botany. Jennifer marvels at each seed’s amazing journey, as it grows with loving care into a plant that is finally returned to the wild to flourish and restore the park for many generations to come. It’s a path — and a future — any parent would wish for her child.

“When you are in an environment where you’re supported, you are pushed to grow…learning to use your voice just stays with you forever.”

Ashley Tolliver

Academic Intern, Crissy Field Center

As a teen growing up in southeast San Francisco, Ashley was — in her words — “a little different, a little weird.” But she joined I-YEL (Inspiring Young Emerging Leaders) — a youth leadership program at Crissy Field Center, where she found community and discovered self-confidence, a love of the outdoors, and a powerful voice. Now a student at City College, Ashley aspires to a career in education. She’s come back to the “family environment” of the Center as the middle school programs academic intern, leading youth from underserved communities in the City. “We spend a lot of time trying to expose them to not only nature and environmentalism—but to learning about who they are,” Ashley explains.

“I want youth that [are] of my background to come and feel empowered by who I am today—because they can do that too. I feel like a lot of troubled youth just need a leader to look up to.”

Yoseline Castillo

Youth Programs Intern, Park Stewardship

During a childhood shuffling between shelters, Yoseline found “escape from unhealthy environments” in the outdoors, through a nonprofit called A Home Away From Homelessness. Located next door to Parks Conservancy offices at Fort Mason, that organization introduced Yoseline to nature. But the Conservancy’s LINC (Linking Individuals to their Natural Community) program showed her the value in caring for it. Through LINC, the self-described “really shy” high schooler gained courage, a sense of belonging, and a passion for science. Presently studying at Skyline College, Yoseline is giving back as the Park Stewardship team’s youth programs intern—mentoring the next generation of young leaders.

“No one had ever even asked me to challenge myself before in the way that the [Crissy Field] Center had — in terms of being able to break out of my shell. I think it did the same for a lot of other people.”

Dennis Chang

Project Assistant, Park Youth Collaborative

Not only was Dennis involved with Urban Trailblazers and I-YEL all through middle and high school, he also saw his older brother participate in I-YEL, and his father — a first-grade teacher in San Francisco — take a National Park Service course that applies ranger educational techniques to the classroom. Dennis has seen, first-hand, how Crissy Field Center’s positive influence continues to spread. “I’ve seen a lot of alumni from the programs go out and really be very impactful in their own communities,” he explains. A recent graduate of San Francisco State University with a degree in environmental studies, Dennis is now a project assistant with Park Youth Collaborative, which aims to further amplify the impact of park programs through partnerships.

“There’s a kindred spirit with park rangers, the Parks Conservancy, and library staff…[we] just share that same commitment to community engagement, conversation, and safe places for exploration.” — Christy Estrovitz (right), San Francisco Public Library

Christy Estrovitz & Michelle Jeffers

Program Innovators, San Francisco Public Library

In summer 2016, shuttles taking patrons from San Francisco libraries to nearby national parks were so popular that staff had to hire additional vehicles. In addition to the guided shuttle tours, collaborative efforts of the Parks Conservancy, National Park Service, and San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) also set up “trailheads” at branch libraries, arranged ranger talks, and themed the library’s summer reading/learning program around the NPS Centennial. “We were just wowed by everything that happened last summer,” says Michelle Jeffers, chief of community programs and partnerships with SFPL. The upshot? The shuttles, along with other programs, are back for 2017 — ready to “wow” even more first-time visitors to the parks.

“A student asked me: ‘Is it possible that this feather I’m touching…could be from a raptor or hawk that I used to see with my abuelito [grandpa] in Mexico?’”

Kelsi Ju

Ranger, National Park Service

For young, first-generation immigrants from across the globe, it’s likely difficult to relate to musty forts and dusty tales from 150 years ago. That’s why a new program for 4th graders, called Migratory Story, offers such value, says Kelsi Ju, an NPS ranger and education manager for school programs at Crissy Field Center. In partnership with Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, this program brings kids to Hawk Hill, where they see birds of prey winging their way from Canada to Mexico—and vividly understand why. Recognizing parallels between the birds’ long journey and their own, the kids — most of them visiting a national park for the first time — begin a lifetime of connection with their parks.

“Most people have some deep connection with this mountain. Once they understand what the partnership is about and how we are all supporting each other, people are happy to give back.”

Nancy Wind Benjamin

Community Ambassador, One Tam

A longtime supporter of the Conservancy and our Trails Forever work, Nancy Benjamin has become an energetic community ambassador for One Tam — a collaboration among four public land agencies and the Conservancy to sustain Mt. Tamalpais. Inspired by the urgency of ecological challenges facing the mountain, and the memory of her late husband (with whom she shared many joyous adventures on Mt. Tam), Nancy rallies the community to support partnership programs that protect Mt. Tamalpais ecosystems and educate young people. Time and time again, she is reminded of how much Tam gives us — clean water, recreational bounty, beauty, memories, and much more. “The mountain supports us,” Nancy explains.

“There aren’t many places in the world where you get a chance to get up-close and personal with a wild bird, eye to eye with a Red-tail or a Peregrine.”

Siobhan Ruck

Volunteer, Golden Gate Raptor Observatory

For almost 25 years, Siobhan Ruck has been trekking to Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands, 40 to 50 times every year, as a Golden Gate Raptor Observatory volunteer bander. After placing small bands around the legs of birds of prey, GGRO staff and volunteers gain insights into bird behavior and migration when the bands are later spotted or found. By studying hawks, falcons, and eagles over time, over 300 GGRO volunteers contribute to our understanding of raptors — and overall ecosystem health. “Community scientists” like Siobhan take pride in seeing raptors such as the Peregrine Falcon rebound in number. “A lot of us have been transformed into being ambassadors for the birds,” she says.

Packing the Parks

Celebrated the National Park Service Centennial with innovative programs in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library, a Junior Ranger Jamboree, a Packing the Parks backpacking trip across Golden Gate for 70 youth, and more

60,000 young people served by education and leadership programs of the Parks Conservancy, NPS, Presidio Trust, such as I-YEL (Inspiring Young Emerging Leaders), Urban Trailblazers, LINC, Project WISE, and Camping at the Presidio, which marked its 10th anniversary

Presidio Visitor Center

Provided support to develop, construct, and staff a state-of the-art new Presidio Visitor Center, the first piece of the forthcoming Presidio Tunnel Tops parkland

5,000,000+ visitors served by Conservancy staff across the parklands, including 1.1 million at Muir Woods National Monument and 1.6 million on Alcatraz

Salmon release

Convened a historic One Tam Science Summit to better understand the species and ecosystems on Mt. Tamalpais, and published a landmark report to summarize findings and guide priorities

169,006 native plants grown in the Native Plant Nurseries for 50 restoration sites across the Golden Gate National Parks

MacArthur Meadow restoration

Completed restoration of MacArthur Meadow in the Tennessee Hollow Watershed, and planned for a major repair project to resurface the Crissy Field Promenade

21,000+ visitors to Home Land Security, a thought-provoking art exhibition at Presidio coastal defense sites, in partnership with FOR-SITE Foundation

Alcatraz Quartermaster painting

Restored the Alcatraz Quartermaster Warehouse and Cell House, continued stewardship of the Alcatraz Gardens, and advanced plans for an enhanced embarkation experience

20,353 birds of prey counted by volunteer “community scientists” of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory

Healthy Parks event

Helped organize the first national Park Rx Day, published a paper on post-to-park transformations, launched the Bay Area Climate Literacy Impact Collaborative, and spearheaded the NPS Urban Agenda Initiative — all through the Institute at the Golden Gate

The Presidio Tunnel Tops

A new park is taking shape across the roof of the Presidio Parkway. Connecting Crissy Field with the Main Post and looking out at the Golden Gate, this spectacular 14-acre parkland will be free for everyone, welcoming to all, and loved by kids and youth who will enjoy safe places to play, explore, and discover.

Designed by James Corner Field Operations and building upon the Crissy Field Center’s track record of innovative environmental education, the Presidio Tunnel Tops will delight and inspire visitors from near and far — and triple the number of youth served by our life-changing park programs.

To learn more about this once-in-a-generation civic project, visit

Find Your Park

The Golden Gate National Parks

Stretching across 80,000 acres and three counties, the Golden Gate National Parks include Golden Gate National Recreation Area (the most-visited national park unit in the country), Muir Woods National Monument, and Fort Point National Historic Site.

In 2016, over 19 million people enjoyed these parks — more than the visitation to Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Olympic combined.


Alcatraz The Rock, famous for its notorious federal prison, is also known for its seabird colonies and restored gardens once tended by residents.

Cliff House

Cliff House The third incarnation of this legendary San Francisco landmark features a world-class restaurant with breathtaking ocean vistas.

Crissy Field

Crissy Field Home to an environmental education center, a vast meadow, and a marsh teeming with bird life, the transformed Crissy Field is one of the most spectacular parks in America.

Fort Baker

Fort Baker Former Army buildings have taken on new life as a LEED Gold-certified national park lodge featuring restored landscapes.

Fort Funston

Fort Funston Visitors enjoy beach walks and the spectacle of hang gliders taking to the sky over windsculpted dunes.

Fort Mason

Fort Mason A key port of embarkation during World War II, this site now hosts the nonprofit Fort Mason Center, a popular hostel, Golden Gate National Recreation Area headquarters, and Parks Conservancy offices.

Fort Point

Fort Point Tucked under the Golden Gate Bridge, this Civil War-era fortress is admired for its magnificent masonry — best appreciated on a candlelight tour.

Kirby Cove

Kirby Cove Known for its astounding campsites, this hidden cove offers a one-of-a-kind perspective of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Lands End

Lands End This park has been revitalized in recent years with enhanced trails, gorgeous overlooks, native plants, and an acclaimed visitor center.

Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands These majestic hills are dotted with historic batteries and old military installations — and lofty perches from which to spy migrating raptors.

Muir Woods

Muir Woods Saved by William Kent and Elizabeth Thacher Kent and named for John Muir, this National Monument is beloved by all for its tall redwoods and serenity.

Olema Valley

Olema Valley Picturesque Victorian farmhouses and idyllic trails grace this valley adjacent to Point Reyes National Seashore.

Point Bonita

Point Bonita The Point Bonita Lighthouse — moved to its current spot in 1877 — stands sentinel at the edge of the continent.

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach One of northern California’s most popular beaches, this vast stretch of white sand is a delight for swimmers, surfers, and picnickers.

Sutro Heights

Sutro Heights The former lands of San Francisco mayor Adolph Sutro showcase a charming garden and the nearby ruins of his gargantuan Sutro Baths.

Sweeney Ridge

Sweeney Ridge Just as Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola did in 1769, visitors today can take in stunning 360-degree panoramas of San Francisco Bay.

Tennessee Valley

Tennessee Valley A meandering trail winds through pastoral scenery to a hidden cove named for the shipwreck of the SS Tennessee.

The Presidio

The Presidio Established by the Spanish in 1776, this post continues to evolve as a national park with new trails, overlooks, bikeways, and a recently opened visitor center.


Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy Fiscal Year 2016 Support to the Parks

Total Support 2016: $46,534,268*

  • Park Interpretation and Visitor Services $15,704,833 (34%)
  • Park Enhancements, Restoration, and Stewardship $25,706,465 (55%)
  • Youth, Volunteer, and Community Programs $5,122,970 (11%)

Total Support to the Parks, 1982–2016: $445 Million

Financial statements of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy are audited on an annual basis.

Copies of the complete audited financial statements are available upon request by calling the Parks Conservancy’s Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer at (415) 561-3000.

*Support to the park includes all program service expenses, excluding cost of goods sold and donated services.

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