Community Adventure Program (CAP) students at New Vista High School were deeply impacted by their outdoor experiences this quarter. In CAP class, one of our goals is always to awaken students to their gifts and abilities to make change in their own lives and the lives of people in their communities. The reflections of this quarter’s students show the strengths of this experiential class and the self-realization that comes from knowing how connected we all are to the natural world and the people around us.
“This quarter’s CAP class was a very eye-opening experience for me. For example, it
was the first time I have ever gone camping, slept outside, was the first time I have ever heard about GMO’s, and the first time I have ever used ways other than a lighter to make fire…Overall, CAP has introduced me to many new ideas and ways of thinking about things such as the food I eat, the trash I throw away, and how much time I spend outdoors.” Jack Lenny
“I am so glad that we learned about our ecological footprints and ways to reduce our consumption, otherwise I would have never known and couldn’t have changed anything.” Ali Quinn
“I can make a difference in my world and I know that all I have to do is try. After I went through this class and collected all that it had to give me I know that I can change my community for the better.” Keva Alvarado-Yule
“Everything we did in class was amazing; overnights, action project, and CAP in general were so great and I know that I won’t look at the world the same way.” Sarah Patterson
“I really think that this class is absolutely amazing and cool. I think everyone should take it, and I think it should be required in all high schools.” Sarah Patterson
“We will all eventually find our way back to the earth by listening to the moon and stars, sun and wind, to the heart beat of the earth pounding like a drum through everything.” Rayna Miller
Check out all the fun, by clicking here for a photo slideshow.
Here at Cottonwood Institute, we are all about teamwork. On a pleasantly warm fall evening in October at Cherry Creek Reservoir, Clark Patton from CI teamed up with a group of campers from Buckley Air Force Base’s Youth Programs for a couple of hours of fun and fire skills. As a guest instructor with a team of highly skilled military men, it was an honor to be invited to their youth camp for a survival overview.
While the time was short, the students learned basic survival priorities and even had time for a torch-lit night hike. Clark had everyone laughing and wanting more by the time the night was over. No worries, Cottonwood Institute and Buckley Air Force Base will be teaming up again next spring. We will work together to implement a weekend survival course giving everyone more time to not only learn and practice survival skills, but also time to laugh and enjoy the outdoors.
The 30th Community Adventure Program (CAP) started off the 2011-2012 school year with an energetic bang! Students took an early interest in Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and that shaped the class as they delved into research and public action!
The pertinence of the topic of GMOs was amazing. The first week of class three students attended a rally at the court house on their own time against GMO’s being planted on public land. The class followed up by writing letters to the County Commissioners objecting to the planting of genetically modified sugar beets on Boulder County Open Space.
CAP also visited the Flatirons Neighborhood Farm to see a working organic garden which produces GMO-free produce for the surrounding neighborhood. Then the students took their knowledge to the streets, educating and asking for petition signatures. According to Katie Maxwell, “It was strange to hear myself teaching others about the things I had only recently learned about, but I loved knowing that now they knew about this huge problem in our country that is so overlooked. If just one of them went home that night and looked up what a GMO was then we succeeded because knowledge was spread.”
The class gathered 141 signatures for the Organic Consumers Association asking for the labeling of genetically modified foods in our grocery stores. Students also announced some of our findings at the Community Gathering at New Vista High School to help educate their peers. As national groups came together around this cause, the class invited the communications director from Alfalfa’s Market into the classroom to talk about their part in spreading the word about labeling GMOs in our food. It was an incredible learning experience for everyone. As Eric Falconer summed it up, “That’s why this class is so awesome, because if you’ve never really been involved in an issue then you get a chance to experience it, and if you have, then you’re just making a greater impact.”
Thank you to everyone involved in making this quarter a great learning experience for everyone!
Check out all the fun and dedication by clicking here for a photo slideshow.
We just received the official announcement that the Cottonwood Institute won the 2011 Markham Mark of Distinction Award and $25,000 to support our programs to connect kids to the outdoors.
Specifically, funding will support our partnerships with West Denver Prep to connect low-income students to the outdoors, Operation: Military Kids to get children from military families outdoors while their parents are serving our country, and public school students from New Vista High School to attend weekend camping trips through our Community Adventure Program.
In order to say thanks, we want give you an opportunity to sample Markham Vineyards wine for yourself, simply:
- Go to our Facebook Page by Clicking Here
- Click the “Like” button at the top of the page
- On November 1, 2011, we will randomly select 4 Cottonwood Institute Facebook Page members to receive a bottle of Markham’s Merlot that you can use to help toast our victory.
- You must be 21+ year old to win
- If you do not have a Facebook account, but still want to enter the drawing, shoot us an email and we will put your name in the hat!
There are too many people to thank for helping us win, but we wanted to give a quick shout out to Kellie Grengs, Jessica Haddy, April and Ken Pishna, Ashley Nelson, James Foy, Argonaut Liquor, Fluid Coffee Bar, Prescott College, University of Denver Marketing Department, Blues Jean Bar, and Colorado & Company for encouraging their networks to vote. We could not have won without you. We are so grateful for your support and very humbled by this entire experience! And of course none of this would have been possible without Markham Vineyards, so thank you so much for empowering us to continue, “changing the world, one adventure at a time!”
On a rain-soaked and chilly afternoon, students from West Denver Prep Lake Campus joined forces with Earth Force and Cottonwood Institute to learn about water, or what we like to call, liquid gold, for World Water Monitoring Day.
After an extremely damp walk to Sloan’s Lake to discuss the fundamentals of water conservation and to collect a water sample, everyone quickly made it back indoors for a fun afternoon working at 3 different hands on water stations. At the first station, the students performed a pH and oxygen test on the water sample from Sloans Lake. The second and third stations demonstrated the effects of pollution and how easily water becomes polluted when we do not take care of our planet.
It didn’t take long for the students to realize that they need to help protect this precious resource that could one day be more valuable than gold.
A special thanks goes out to West Denver Prep students for their dedication to the environment and education and to Leo Canner for volunteering his time! May you all continue to make waves!
Click here for a photo slideshow of the day’s events.
Written by Leo Canner and edited by April Pishna.
From allergy symptoms to lost participants to severed fingers…sounds like an instructor’s worst nightmare, doesn’t it? No worries, these were just scenarios played out during our fall instructor training course to ensure that our instructors are prepared for the worst, but ready to deliver the best courses possible!
On a cloudy and chilly morning, 13 of us set out on a casual 2 mile hike to our beautiful training site for the weekend, Mica Mine at Calwood Outdoor Education Center. While we worked hard throughout the weekend, practicing everything from medical scenarios to survival skills, every camping trip must have time for campfires, marshmallows, and guitar strumming.
With a diverse group of seasoned instructors, student leaders, and brand new faces, we worked on shelters, fire skills, cooking plans, kitchen setup, medical scenarios, debriefing lessons, games, and search and rescue. We even had time to play in the mud for a service-learning project to improve the riparian ecosystem and help build a swimming hole for summer participants at Calwood.
As the weekend came to a close, the sun came out, and a sense of peace enveloped us all. We are ready! We are ready for anything! We are ready to deliver the best! We are ready to bring our strengths and passions for the environment to all of you! Here’s to a great season of Cottonwood Institute courses! Bring ‘em on! Because we are ready!
Click here for a slideshow of the adventurous and fun weekend with some of our amazing instructors!
Last February, Earth Task Force (ETF) students and staff, co-wrote a grant application for the National Environmental Education Foundation’s (NEEF) Green Prize Award. The Green Prize is a national contest for schools across the country with a prize of $10,000 to help fund the winning schools’ sustainability efforts. In 2011, over 100 schools from around the country applied. New Vista High School’s Earth Task Force, sponsored by the Cottonwood Institute, won this prestigious award!
On Wednesday September 14th, 2011 Jen Taboula, from NEEF; along with New Vista Principal, Kirk Quitter; Boulder Valley School District Superintendent, Bruce Messinger; Ford Church, Cottonwood Institute Executive Director; and the entire New Vista student body helped ETF celebrate their success with a school-wide assembly. During the assembly, NVHS’s sustainability efforts from curriculum to composting were applauded. Jen Taboula lauded the homegrown sustainability efforts of students and staff. “You aren’t sitting in a LEED certified building,” Taboula stated. “What stood out to me is that what you’re doing (is what) students around the country could be doing, regardless of the resources at their schools.”
Taboula also mentioned that the reason NVHS stood out amongst all of the candidates was because of strong student participation and the possibility of replicating the programming elsewhere. A big part of the programming Taboula referred to comes from the Cottonwood Institute’s Community Adventure Program, and the support that Cottonwood Institute gives the Earth Task Force through funding and resources. Truly the winning of this award is the result of strong community partnerships between Cottonwood Institute and NVHS students and staff.
The ETF has implemented dozens of projects, including the installation of solar panels on the school’s roof, all-school lunches made from local ingredients, and alternative transportation programs. The ETF is extremely proud their efforts have paid off, and are excited to put the prize money to good use. They are hoping to use the money to expand the New Vista gardens, put on more events that engage the school, and make more green improvements to the building, such as planting trees or even a green roof!
Click Here to read the article that appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera.
Click Here for a slideshow of the celebration!
This article was written by Gracie Currier-Tate and edited by Paige Doughty. We also want to acknowledge students Kelly Muller and Seth Blum, along with mentor Paige Doughty and teachers Kate Hartman and Andy Stephens for writing the Green Prize grant – way to go!
When anybody in Boulder litters, sooner or later it ends up in the creek and river system. Not only does this destroy diverse creek ecosystems, but it also contaminates the water. Contamination is the last thing the river system needs because much of the water in Colorado runs off into the rest of the country, which animals and people, use for their drinking water. It’s a life source that a simple careless act can spoil.
New Vista High School’s Earth Task Force (ETF), sponsored by the Cottonwood Institute, took note of this issue, and decided to help out. On October 1st, 2011, group members, teachers, and students from the larger New Vista High School community went to the local Skunk Creek for a bit of tidying up. ETF partnered with the Keep It Clean Partnership to pick up a surprising amount of trash! They covered just a two-block stretch of the creek in two hours, picking up any trash they could find. The number of cigarette butts alone was daunting. Nine bags of trash and one bag of recyclable materials were collected and the ETF covered only a fraction of the area they had planned to cover. Students were shocked by how much trash they found.
As a result of this action project the Earth Task Force plans to adopt this stretch of Skunk Creek by returning to it throughout the year to keep it clean!
Article written by Leah Muller, Earth Task Force Member and edited by Paige Doughty, Earth Task Force Mentor.
On September 8th, 2011, the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) visited New Vista High School (NVHS) for a very special annual treat. Amy Atkins, a senior educator for ACE, with the help of the Earth Task Force (ETF), presented an interactive video with a mission to educate and inspire students to battle climate change. As new students come in and seniors graduate, the ETF wants to remind all students of their power to create change.
There are endless ways to help the environment, some taking little effort but reaping big rewards. So, concluding the presentation, each student was challenged to a DOT, or a do-one-thing. A DOT is a small pledge a student can take to make their world a little greener. A DOT could be as simple as bringing a re-useable mug to your favorite cafe, or buying local organic vegetables. The ETF is constantly amazed with the creative ideas that students come up with! The entire school’s DOTs are now displayed along the walls of the front entrance to continually inspire change.
ACE has been a partner with the ETF and the Cottonwood Institute for three years now and has helped track our projects and come up with fresh ideas to keep the student body motivated to change the world.
Article written by Gracie Currier-Tate and edited by Paige Doughty.