Finding the Good

Education for Sustainability

Welcome to the Finding the Good traveling semester program!

Learning is different here… our classrooms are fields and farms, rivers and roads, gardens and green buildings, and so many more. Your brain will work in conjunction with your body as you meet the challenge of joining academic study with hands-on investigation and outdoor adventure. You and your classmates become fast friends and then family as mutual members of each tight-knit semester community.

We’re here to study what it means to sustain life on this planet and to give you the opportunity to experience the positive, possibility-filled side of environmental awareness and sustainable living. Welcome to Finding the Good.

“You never change things by
fighting the existing reality.

To change something,
build a new model
that makes the
existing model

― R. Buckminster Fuller


What is Finding the Good?

  • Community & Service
  • Leadership
  • Connection to Nature
  • Transdisciplinary Learning
  • Youth in Action: Documentary Media Making & Presenting

Finding the Good is a multi-faceted 16-week traveling semester program dedicated to the research, study, documentation, and sharing of working models of sustainability. Our program is open to high school juniors and seniors looking to take a semester of study away from their traditional schools, as well as to students taking a gap year after high school graduation.

We are based in the Sierra foothills approximately 20 miles from Nevada City, California. At Finding the Good, we live closely with the land and learn daily by working hands-on in and with our surroundings. Here, you will not only learn the concepts behind a more simple, sustainable existence; you will grow to understand how those concepts work by cultivating and preparing food for our community, by researching and installing alternative energy sources, by designing green buildings to house yourself and your belongings, and by building and maintaining all of the interpersonal relationships that make our community function. Living and learning become one and the same.


Finding the Good is based on the research, study, practice and promotion of sustainability in the areas of:

  • Transportation
  • Energy
  • Food
  • Culture
  • Shelter
  • Environmental Conservation

So what do we mean by sustainability anyway? Learn more!


The Finding the Good curriculum is action based. The word curriculum derives from the Latin, currere, “to run”. It doesn’t derive from “to sit and study” or “to listen to lectures”.

Our program is about getting out into that so-called real world and learning how to apply all of your academic skills effectively to create and inspire positive change. Everything we study has direct relevance for day-to-day living.

Most teens in traditional schools are required to learn in ways that are inadequate for meeting the challenges of University and the challenges of being an adult. The reasons for learning are too often disconnected from real life needs and problems. The goal of education in so many instances has been reduced to scoring well on standardized tests, and focusing on a grade, rather than on learning how to learn. A high grade point average becomes the goal so that admission into a prestigious university is achieved, so that a well paying job is assured, with the assumption of financial security.

This very progression is based on a system of competition. Students are not adequately learning the practice of collaboration and teamwork and are instead being conditioned to live as though competition is necessary for their very survival. When in fact, long term survival and the ability to sustain ecosystems and societies is dependent upon humans learning to cooperate with one another to collectively solve the problems we’ve created by not cooperating with one another. Most real-world working environments are social structures themselves where co-workers are inter-dependent – they rely on one another and success is dependent on their ability to support and work with one another. A portion of Synergia’s ropes course clientele over the past twenty years has been with the corporate and business sector, teaching teamwork and cooperation in the workplace. And most struggle enormously with these basic qualities because their education did not adequately include them – they literally don’t know how to do it well.

If, as an adult, you think back on the most challenging time in your life, and what you had to find in yourself to overcome it, and then ask yourself if you learned that in school, what would your answer be? If not in school, where and how did you learn it?

What’s in a Name?

Finding the Good got its name more through simple observation than by intensive brainstorming sessions. We knew our program would be focused on examining the positive work and innovative solutions people are using in their communities. We considered “Searching for the Good”… until a friend pointed out that the world is already full of good and we just have to find it. We hope you come help!