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Yolonda Youngs

Yolonda Youngs

Associate Professor


Associate Professor
Office Phone(909) 537-5255
Office LocationSB-317


Ph.D. 2009, Arizona State University (Geography)

M.S. 2004, Montana State University (Earth Sciences – Geography)

B.A. 1993, Florida State University (Anthropology, Archaeology)


GEOG 3500 Conservation and Natural Resources

GEOG 3501 Environmental Sustainability

GEOG 3630 Environmental Justice

GEOG 4710 Water Wars

GEOG 5351 & GEOG 5352 Professional Conferences

GEOG 5240 National Parks & Public Lands

GEOG 3004 Field Methods in Geography



environmental and cultural geography, national parks and protected areas, public lands, environmental justice, tourism, environmental policy, GIS, field methods, American West, Europe

Research and Teaching Interests

Dr. Youngs specializes in environmental and cultural geography, national parks and protected areas, public lands, environmental justice, social science GIS, conservation of natural resources, environmental policy and land management, and field methods. Her regional specialties are the U.S. West and Europe.

Her publications appear in national, international, and regional journals including the Geographical Review, GeoHumanities, Environmental History, Journal of Teaching and Learning Technology, and Society and Natural Resources: An International Journal. Dr. Youngs has over 20 publications in refereed journal articles, books, book chapters as well as academic book reviews, scientific technical reports, and scholarly essays. Topics include cultural landscape evolution in U.S. national parks, public lands management and environmental justice in the U.S. West, repeat photography and environmental monitoring, and innovative research applications of digital and geospatial technology (mobile apps, 3D visualization, GIS-based Story Maps).  Her published research also explores topics of tourism in North America, visitor experiences in national parks, environmental management and social science GIS in Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks, and place attachment through river guiding and mountaineering in Grand Teton National Park.

Conference Papers: Dr. Youngs regularly presents her research at academic conferences including the American Association of Geographers (AAG), International Geographical Union (IGU), Association of Pacific Coast Geographers (APCG), and the interdisciplinary conferences.  She is active in the CSU COAST network in California with her research in coastal and marine protected areas. She regularly presents her research to public audiences at park visitor centers, libraries, museums, bookstores, and community centers. 

Books: Her first book is The American Environment Revisited: Environmental Historical Geographies of the United States (2018, edited with Geoffrey Buckley, Rowman & Littlefield Press). Her second book is a solo-authored project titled Framing Nature: The Making of an American Icon at the Grand Canyon. It explores one hundred years of environmental management and policy, popular imagery, tourism, environmental justice, and cultural heritage in the Greater Grand Canyon Region (in print production with the University of Nebraska Press). 

For a current list of publications, please click on the “publications” link on this webpage.

Awards and honors for her teaching and research are recognized at university and national levels including the Outstanding Researcher at Idaho State University (2018), the Apple, Inc. Distinguished Educator Award (for innovative uses of mobile apps and iPads in the classroom), and the International Geographical Union Scholar award from the Association of American Geographers. In 2022, her service as the AAG Pacific Coast Regional Division Councilor (2019-2022) representing geography programs in 8 western U.S states received a special honor for service by the Association of American Geographers.   

Her research is funded through grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. National Park Service, Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, National Endowment for the Humanities, Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, and the Association of American Geographers. She is an active researcher and PI with the CESU network (Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit) – a national network of federal agencies, tribes, academic institutions, state and local governments, nongovernmental conservation organizations, and other partners working together to provide timely research to inform public lands resource stewardship.

From 2016 to 2021, the U.S. National Park Service (US NPS) funded a six-year research project to study the cultural and environmental geography of outdoor recreation in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. The work traces the environmental management and stewardship of the Upper Snake River and Teton Mountain Range from 1950 to the present day through the experiences of scenic rafting guides, NPS river rangers, and NPS mountaineering rangers and the cultural landscapes of the park.

Current and ongoing research at CSUSB, includes projects focused on the Santa Ana Watershed and Mill Creek areas of the Inland Empire (habitat restoration, long term environmental monitoring using repeat photography, GIS); California Coastal Areas & Public Lands (Channel Islands National Park and other coastal locations - environmental policy and decision making, long term environmental monitoring, climate resiliency, coastal and marine protected areas); ongoing research in U.S. national parks (Grand Canyon NP, Grand Teton NP, Yellowstone NP on topics related to environmental management, outdoor recreation, tourism, cultural heritage, water resources). She is currently developing projects in UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the USA and Europe, including research focused on sea level rise, social resiliency, regenerative tourism, traditional boating cultures, and lagoon ecosystems in Venice, Italy. 

Many of Dr. Youngs’ projects include digital geospatial research and community outreach. Working with collaborative and interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students, Dr. Youngs’ has created GIS-based online StoryMaps, 3D visualizations of museum objects, a mobile app for Yellowstone National Parks cultural landscape history, websites, and lead participatory GIS projects of river stewardship and community engagement. 

Academic and Professional Networks: Dr. Youngs is active as a scholar and leader in the American Association of Geographers (AAG) and the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers (APCG). She engages in international collaborations through the Royal Geographic Society (RGS), the International Geographical Union (IGU), and Association of European Geographical Societies (EUGEO). She is a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), U.S. National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICONOS), and World Heritage USA.

Teaching Interests: Dr. Youngs is a broadly trained geographer with a passion for communicating geographic and environmental principles to students.  She promotes an active learning environment and community-based class projects for students through in-class discussions and out-of-class activities, individual and group projects, and field modules.  Her courses integrate contemporary examples from local and national events, new and emerging technologies, and a variety of teaching strategies and modalities aimed at creating connections for students between their personal knowledge, their life experiences, and their intellectual curiosities.