Vida Verde

Shawn Sears wants you to be aware of this startling reality: Many students live 20 minutes from the ocean yet haven’t seen or tasted it. Many have never hiked in the hills or looked up at a redwood canopy.

Sears and his wife, Laura, are working to change this as the co-founders of San Gregorio-based Vida Verde Nature Education. The 12-year-old nonprofit provides three days of free outdoor environmental education for 700 underserved Bay Area students each year.

This year’s PACF grant brought an entire class from East Palo Alto’s Ravenswood School District to the program. The 24 fourth-graders from Jake Ban’s class spent time in the redwoods on the coast exploring the beach and an educational organic farm, hiking, having their first-ever campfire and s’mores experience, and sleeping in Native American-style teepees.

Vida Verde increases students’ environmental awareness, promotes teamwork and personal responsibility, and inspires positive attitudes and self-confidence. It also works to enhance classroom learning and improve science scores.

“Thank you for making Vida Verde exist. I learned that a banana slug has a hole on the side of its head that lets it do three things: Make scat, breathe, and have babies! Something that I learned about myself is that I am brave because I faced the spiders and went on the alone hike. Vida Verde changed my life. P.S., I made cheese at home.”

Impact Category
  • Education
  • Environment
Mission Statement

Vida Verde is a nonprofit that promotes educational equity by providing free, overnight, environmental learning experiences for students who don’t otherwise get the opportunity.

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“Thank you for making Vida Verde exist. I learned that a banana slug has a hole on the side of its head that lets it do three things: Make scat, breathe, and have babies! Something that I learned about myself is that I am brave because I faced the spiders and went on the alone hike. Vida Verde changed my life. P.S., I made cheese at home.”