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The Leadership & Service LLC starts Spring 2020 strong with a Retreat in the Bay Area!

January 28, 2020

The Leadership & Service Living Learning Community is starting Spring 2020 semester strong!

On MLK Weekend, the Leadership & Service LLC Students embarked on a 2-day retreat in the Bay Area. They visited California State Park (Mt Tamalpais) on  to learn about the power of leadership, service & teamwork in order to serve the greater good of the California community 

During their experience in the LLC, students learned about building community with one another by learning about leadership together and serving the community together.  

The Leadership & Service LLC is a partnership between the UC Merced Community Engagement Center (CEC), and the Margo F. Souza Student Leadership Center.  Each year we have a minimum of 15 and max of 30 first-year students in the LLC, and they all live together in Mariposa Hall. The California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) provides a large chunk to sponsor the important learning in the Leadership and Service LLC. 

The Reason we chose Mt. Tamalpais for our Spring 2020 Retreat: Exploring Leadership & Collaboration in the California State Parks  

The Leadership and Service Living Learning Community (LLC) at UC Merced is providing first-year students the opportunity to explore and practice leadership, to serve their communities, and to immerse themselves in unique challenges and needs within the communities throughout California.  As a major component of the experience, these students are engaging in hands-on learning and service at state parks throughout the San Joaquin Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area.  In many ways, places like national and state parks are incredible training grounds for stewardship, social justice, and innovation.   

This is why we sought out support from the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) to sponsor the important learning in the Leadership and Service LLC.  Through a CSPF grant, we recently took students to Mt. Tamalpais, often referred to as Mt. Tam, north of San Francisco.  There, students hiked in the pristine Mt. Tamalpais State Park with its breath-taking views of the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco Bay, Marin County, and Point Reyes National Seashore.  Most importantly, Mt. Tam is an incredible case study for leadership in the 21st century.   

We explored the amazing real-life case-study of the power of collaboration & leadership: Divided and managed by four federal, state, and county agencies, progress in managing the water resources, natural environment, and human interactions on Mt. Tam had been hampered by bureaucratic and procedural differences until the formation of ONE TAM.  ONE TAM is a non-profit organization that has worked to align the efforts of all four agencies.  Partnering managers from the ONE TAM collaboration met with the LLC students on top of Mt. Tam to share the incredible success stories, challenges, and leadership happening through their pioneering effort.   


Thoughts from the Students:  

“Going on the retreat, I learned more about the communities that are close to my home, communities that struggle, see hope and it is amazing to see them all come together to help progress their environment for the future.”  

-Brianna Chavez Mancilla, First-Year, Major: Psychology, hometown UC Merced 

“I appreciate that the LLC has organized our trip with state park rangers and have talked about their challenges in their work. Our trip to Mt. Tamalpais was a unique experience where I had a chance to learn about the problems that state parks face every year and how creatively they are solved by the leaders who preserve them.”  

-Adrian Buitron Boada, First-year student, Mechanical Engineering

“For me to be able to experience California State Parks is the chance to feel connected back to my homeland. Since my roots are placed in Salvador and Mexico, being surrounded by the nature is the time I can feel closer to home. I have a great appreciation for that.” 

-Chelsey Olivarria Olsegueda, First-year, Sociology Major, history minor  


From Our Partners: 

Paula White, Community Programs Manager, The Watershed Project 

“It's really inspiring to get to work with young people like the students from UC Merced who came to the Richmond Greenway on Martin Luther King Junior's birthday. We had a great big mountain of mulch to spread around the native plants in our habitat garden and bioswale. While the students worked to smother the weeds with wheelbarrows full of mulch, they helped create a joyful atmosphere of good will that was infectious. There's something about working outside next to a stranger that creates connections--to nature, to a place, to a new friend. I think this is the kind of service that Martin Luther King would be proud of.” 


Janet Klein, Director of OneTam Conservation Science Programs at Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy 

“It was a pleasure meeting your students, and I very much appreciated their fortitude in withstanding the wind and the fog. I very much enjoyed the collective awe at the unique perspective offered by the top of Mt Tam, with San Francisco to the south and national parks to the north: it is gratifying to see a rising generation of leaders step into their public lands.” 


Shaun Horne, Watershed Resources Manager at Marin Municipal Water District 

“It was great to share an afternoon on the top of Mt. Tamalpais with an enthusiastic group of students who are interested in building skills in environmental leadership. Through Introducing students to the challenges and opportunities of cross jurisdictional collaboration, the UC Merced program is providing students with a deeper understanding of how land stewardship networks are organized around common goals.” 

From Our Staff:  

“I can't thank the California State Park Foundation enough for supporting our efforts to not only expose these students as users and visitors of public parks and protected lands, but as champions, leaders, and engaged citizens who will lead and fight for these spaces in the future.  I look forward to seeing what the seeds from this trip, and our other State Park projects, grow in the leadership journey of these students.” 

- Jacob Croasdale, Coordinator, Margo F. Souza Student Leadership Center 

“I’m grateful to be a part of the community of scholars that we’ve built within the Leadership & Service LLC. These first-years began the Fall 2019 semester as strangers. They have since grown into a family that both supports each other and holds each other accountable to the community expectations we have set for ourselves as an LLC. I’m extremely excited because these students have already shown what leadership in action can look like, yet they’re only in the beginning stages of their leadership journey here at UC Merced. The best is yet to come for these students.” 

- Jess Evora, Associate Director, Margo F. Souza Student Leadership Center 

Learn more about the Leadership & Service Living Learning Community (LLC) HERE!


Thanks for taking the time to learn more about this program of the Margo F. Souza Student Leadership Center!

Go Bobcats!!!