30. NatureBridge

Environmental nonprofit

LOCATION: San Francisco, CA
BEST PERKS: Travel, Alternative work environment, Community & environmental support
HIRING? YES! naturebridge.org

Our mission is to inspire personal connections to the natural world and responsible actions to sustain it. Serving more than 40,000 participants annually, NatureBridge is the largest nonprofit residential environmental-education partner of the National Park Service. Since 1971, we have introduced almost one million students to national parks through field science education programs for schools and youth leadership programs. Our employees work, live, and play in the some of the most spectacular places in the world. NatureBridge is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation.

The Baxter Award and the Bishop-Marcus Award were both created to celebrate the memories and contributions of these three individuals. The two awards give employees a chance to explore and educate themselves with monies provided by these awards. Each year, the awards committees select employees of good standing who inspire the two committees with their proposals. Some staff have traveled the world with these awards—to Tanzania, the French Alps, Mongolia, and national parks across the country. At the conclusion of these life-changing trips, employees share the stories of their discoveries with the NatureBridge community. NatureBridge also offers staff an opportunity to try new things through its ambassador program. High-performing educators from our campuses get an opportunity to live and work in another national park or our San Francisco office. The idea is to shadow, observe, listen, and then bring back learnings to your own campus. Only our best employees are invited to be an Ambassador.


All of our campus-based facilities are in national parks. Hiking, rock climbing, skiing, tide-pooling, and other activities in the out-of-doors are all easily accessible to employees. Many of our employees hike during the day as a regular part of their duties. The ability to do any of these activities on the way to and from work is encouraged and celebrated. Some employess can even kayak to work! NatureBridge distributes a relevant wellness newsletter to all employees on a monthly basis. This includes tips on healthy eating, exercise, current medical trends, and overall wellness. Our campuses provide free and discounted meals that are created with healthy, organic, and often locally grown produce.

Sabbaticals are awarded to those full-time employees in excellent standing who after seven years apply for this honor. We pay half their salary and keep the employee on full benefits while they are gone for three months. All we ask is to share in the joys and learnings once they return. All staff are encouraged to spend a day in the field with our students at least once a year. This allows each of us to reconnect with the mission and experience the power of NatureBridge firsthand. Staff who work in the field regularly have an opportunity to do office-based projects if desired. These include creating videos, writing blog posts, learning more about risk management, contributing to diversity efforts, etc.


Staff participate in local and regional organizations that benefit the community. One example is Sustainable Action, a volunteer-run organization in Yosemite. This organization finds and repairs bicycles to create a “bike library” for those unable to afford a sustainable means of transportation, and staff are able to use this as a professional-development opportunity.
Our Olympic campus regularly creates fundraising opportunities to support free program participation for the local schools.  

Stewardship is a key component of all NatureBridge programs. In addition to field science programs with schools, NatureBridge invites community participation in stewardship activities in the parks in which it operates. Examples are Earth Day and Coastal Clean-ups at Marin Headlands in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. These days include a cleanup of the beaches, invasive-species removal, and native nursery pot cleanup. We serve organic, sustainable, locally grown food whenever possible. A central component of NatureBridge programs is the reduction of waste in all areas. There is a focus on garbology—food waste, compost, recycling, and landfills. We aim to have zero food waste at every meal by every participant. Nearly all of our buildings are repurposed. From army bunkers to a TB clinic to a former B&B, using existing buildings rather than starting from scratch saves waste and allows our students to learn from the history of the area. NatureBridge uses sustainable building materials and cleaning supplies. Whenever feasible, we use LED and compact fluorescent lightbulbs, carpets made from recycled plastic bottles, electric vehicles to make deliveries on campus, and low-flow toilets. NatureBridge teaches all students about these sustainable practices and how they can make changes at home to protect the planet. We also provide incentives for staff who live in campus housing to reduce their energy use. NatureBridge relocated our national office to a public-transportation-friendly location in San Francisco. Now all national staff use public transportation to commute to work.

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