ReWilding Fall 2015

Sequoia National Park, CA

The area which now comprises Sequoia National Park was first home to Monachee (or Western Mono) Native Americans, who resided mainly in the Kaweah River drainage in the Foothills region of the park. In the summertime, Native Americans would travel over the high mountain passes to trade with tribes to the East.

Sequoia National Park was established on September 25, 1890. The park spans 404,064 acres. Encompassing a vertical relief of nearly 13,000 feet, the park contains the highest point in the contiguous 48 United States, Mount Whitney, at 14,494 feet above sea level.

The park is south of and contiguous with Kings Canyon National Park; the two are administered by the National Park Service together as the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. They were designated the UNESCO Sequoia-Kings Canyon Biosphere Reserve in 1976.

The park is famous for its giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree, the largest tree on Earth. The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, which contains five out of the ten largest trees in the world.

Map showing the location of Sequoia National Park

Student Comments

I realized I love to be in nature and to share my experience with others. I was completely blown away by my enthusiasm for the natural world. It took me to a place I had only experienced as a young child. I was AWESTRUCK by the GIANT SEQUOIA’S not matter how many tourists we were – their quiet presence overshadowed everything.

This was the perfect kick off for a new academic year and new DA program! The group connected so quickly! Through this kind of deep inner work, the energy of the group created friendships for life and a rich environment for study. I think it is a testament to the importance of VGI’s work.

What a joy it was to meet the doctoral and master cohorts! After our time together, I feel I have made friends for life. The residency was also a wonderful introduction to the program material. Dr. Pye guided us as we hiked through Sequoia National Park, pointing out ecological concepts represented in this ecosystem of the Sequoia forest and challenging us to apply those concepts to our own ecosystem both biologically and psychologically. Our class project gave us another opportunity to synthesize botany with the ecopsychological concepts that were demonstrated while in the forest.

I think the Rewilding was a wonderful way for students to come together, discuss and learn about program-related ideas, and also to learn about ourselves, each other, and created a strong sense of community and support. I have never felt so accepted, respected and understood before. I wish the rewilding could happen more than twice a year. I would love it if all of our instructors could make the trip too. The rewilding reinforced the belief that I am definitely in the right program!

I will say that this in-person class was the PERFECT way to begin this program. It is so much more meaningful to me to know my classmates, and to feel a part of a group. It also has joined the Masters and Doctoral students in a way that make me feel like we are all a part of this study, even when we do not have overlap in between Rewildings.The environment, the food, the format – it was all so comfortable and really better than I could have imagined. It was a wonderful way to create a sense of community and even vulnerability, as both are necessary to truly embrace all that our course offerings have to offer.