The participating scholars in SYI are an avid, curious, intelligent, hardworking group of students that showed tremendous skill and effort in reading and writing and a keen interest in the works of John Steinbeck.

The first group of students consisted of 20 students, current juniors and seniors, that served as the programs pilot group. These students were chosen based on their work ethic and skills developed and maintained in their English classes and were asked to join the program. In their 2016-2017 year as the first high school group of Steinbeck scholars, they ventured up the California Coast to visit the geographic locations that inspired many of John Steinbeck’s books.

The 2017-2018 group of students carried on this adventure and learning experience with 24 students, all seniors including most of the participating juniors from the previous year, with a focus on Steinbeck’s ecological connection to his books. This theme produced many inspiring photos, poems, prose, and more that were published in the first SYI journal The Hour of the Pearl: Literature and Art from the Steinbeck Youth Institute, a collection of work from this year and the previous year.