Program days are the heart of the TLT experience.

During the 9 months of the school year, TLT students get an inside look at Sonoma County and its issues through this community-based program that emphasizes hands-on learning, critical thinking, and communication.  They and their new friends meet decision-makers, solve problems and discover how Sonoma County works.

Program days are designed to give students a local perspective and opportunities to meet local leaders.  Therefore, students in TLT are grouped into 4 classes by region; two in Santa Rosa, one in West County, and one in South County.

For an “audio” overview of our program – including what participants actually DO and what they GET out of TLT – explore this radio interview with former TLT Program Director, Chris Pack, who spoke with Nate Campbell, host of “Sonoma County’s Talking” which aired on KZST and affiliated stations.

Parent – Student Orientation

Parents and students learn about the TLT program, details of each program day, goals and expectations, and hear the experiences of TLT graduates. Students meet each other and participate in  ice-breaker type activities.   This is a required meeting for both parents and students and is held at the start of the TLT Leadership Program year.


Students get to know each other and build their class community through  skill development that includes goal identification, problem solving and team building.

Students spend a full day with TLT staff, guest presenters and volunteers.  The day includes activities practicing leadership skills, creating relationships, and learning the art of communication through teamwork and challenge course activities!

Students work in groups to formulate ideas on what community issues are most important to them and present their ideas to each other.  This is an example of the format of some of the TLT days to come. Through exercises such as these, students recognize their similarities and appreciate their differences.

Human Services Day

Participants learn about both public and private sector human service providers and recipients gaining meaningful information and experiences. Human service issues and resources are examined.

Students visit sites that provide services for the homeless, such as Redwood Gospel Mission, offering food, shelter and recovery programs  Student hear the stories of people who are recovering from addiction and visit local senior centers, where they interact with the clients.  The students love the interactions!

The afternoon involves a funding project, in which students learn about grant writing, fundraising, and what makes a service centered non-profit sustainable.

Agriculture Day

TLT partners with the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and other local leaders in agriculture to provide one of the most memorable days of the year!  Visits to vineyards, dairies and farms help participants become acquainted with the diversity of the agricultural enterprises in Sonoma County, gaining an understanding of the significance of this sector of our economy and communities, and the challenges we face in sustaining it.

Criminal Justice Day

Participants gain an understanding of the full spectrum of the criminal justice system, from prevention and intervention, to apprehension and incarceration to rehabilitation and treatment. They meet and talk with representatives of various law enforcement and community-based organizations to learn about careers and training required, as well as innovative approaches like restorative justice.

Typically, Forensics and SWAT team officers from the Sheriff’s Department show the equipment and procedures they use in their work.  Members of the Santa Rosa and Sebastopol police departments present information to the students about their particular role in keeping our community safe, providing examples and close up experiences, including the K-9 Unit and a Force Options (“shoot/don’t-shoot”) Training Simulator. The Day concludes with a mock trial, exploration of adult and juvenile probation services, and conversations with an inmate and staff of our county detention facility.

Community Service

Students choose a non-profit service organization and complete 8 hours of community service before the end of Winter Break.  This follow-up to Human Services Day gives students another perspective on the organizations that are meeting human needs in our communities, how to become more directly involved.

Health Care Day

Students explore this vast and diverse field through a variety of activities and presentations. This Day typically includes:

  • a panel of health professionals – not only doctors and nurses, but professionals in less prominent careers like imaging, phlebotomy, billing and mental health.
  • a hospital or facility tour, showcasing what goes on behind the scenes in departments like Emergency, maternity, imaging, engineering, and surgery.
  • a “Hot Topics” section where student teams discuss current issues – like fluoridation, vaccination, the soda tax, and the right to die – present their views and facilitate a class discussion.
  • an exploration of public health issues like obesity and diabetes, and the role of public health professionals.

Students also explore issues related to access to care, the cost of care, and the responsibility of individuals for their own health.

Government Day

Students learn about the impact of government on their lives, what services government provides, and who pays for them. Students interact with local elected officials, gaining an understanding of the decision-making process.

Students work in small groups, with mentoring by experts, to simulate a meeting of a school board, city council, or other decision-making body. The students make presentations and deliberate on a real issue, and their decisions are relayed to the real council members.

Environment & Natural Resources Day

Students explore the interface between society and the natural resources that sustain it – water, air, energy, land and its resources – including current issues, research, and careers in this sector, as well as impacts on growth, development and planning.

Entrepreneurship & Technology Day

This day provides participants with a better understanding of what it takes to start their own business or even invent their own product. Participants also learn about different aspects of the the tech industry in Sonoma County.


An evening celebration of the TLT experience for students and their families.