Colorado Gives Day is officially two weeks away on Tuesday, December 6, 2011, but you can set up your donation to the Cottonwood Institute today! With your help we can meet our end of the year goal to raise the critical funds we need to help connect diverse students to the outdoors and empower them to tackle local issues in their schools, the community, and the environment.
What is Colorado Gives Day? Thanks to the generous support of the Community First Foundation and FirstBank, Colorado Gives Day is a campaign designed to encourage people like you to “give where you live” to support your favorite local charities like the Cottonwood Institute!
How You Can Help Right Now: You don’t have to wait until December 6th, you can schedule a donation for Colorado Gives Day right now by Clicking Here. Please make sure you check the box that says: “Schedule Donation For Colorado Gives Day.”
How Your Donation Will Help: Your donation will help students like Jesus and his classmates from West Denver Prep explore the outdoors and address water pollution issues at Sloans Lake in Denver, CO.
More Reasons To Give: 100% of donations made through GivingFirst.org will benefit the Cottonwood Institute and our programs with no credit card or administrative fees. Donations made on December 6th will help the Cottonwood Institute receive a percentage of a $300,000 fund set up to encourage people to donate on Colorado Gives Day in addition to bonus bucks and other prizes announced throughout the day.
If You Already Made A Donation: If you already made a donation in 2011, thank you so much! Please encourage your family, friends, and colleagues who care about youth, education, and the environment to donate to the Cottonwood Institute on Colorado Gives Day, by Clicking Here and spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, and Google +!
Gobble! Gobble! “I saw a turkey!” That was all it took. If there were any reservations about hiking earlier in the day, those dissipated as soon as the girls eyed the turkey off in the distance.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it was only fitting to find wild turkeys on our first outing with our newest partner, Casa de la Esperanza in Longmont, Colorado. Casa de la Esperanza is a residential community owned and operated by the Boulder County Housing Authority, dedicated to helping agricultural workers. Their learning center provides educational and recreational services to Casa residents, including an onsite after-school program and academic center. Cottonwood Institute has teamed up with them to offer a girls empowerment course and plans are in progress to offer a boys program as well.
On an unusually warm fall day in early November, the girls, ranging in age from 8 to 14, headed to Heil Valley Ranch just outside of Boulder for a day hike and an introduction to survival skills. While the turkeys and their tracks were the highlight of the trip, the girls also sipped on some pine needle tea, practiced fire skills, enjoyed a yummy lunch, and even managed to find time for a hike.
At the end of the day, nobody wanted to leave. One of the girls was especially excited to stay, “I wanna go home, I mean right here in the woods, I wanna live here!” And they all followed that thought with, “We wanna go camping!” Here’s to more adventures with the girls from Casa de la Esperanza. Who knows? Maybe a camping trip or two could be in their future!
Click here for a slideshow of the day’s adventures.
Picture this: The peaceful silence of snow-capped mountains towering above a vast blanket of white…WHOOOSH! The silence changes quickly into peals of laughter as 11 pairs of boot-donned feet trample quickly out of range of the next onslaught of snowballs.
For Cottonwood Institute, an early snowfall doesn’t hinder survival courses; in fact, they just become more exciting. On a late October day, a group of Lakewood High School students and their teachers headed to Conifer for a day of survival skills and snowballs. While most focused their efforts building a quinzhee shelter by piling up massive amounts of snow and then digging out the inside, a few remained dedicated to the constant snowball fights that kept everyone entertained throughout the course.
The quinzhee did take up most of the course, but there was still time to work on fire skills, discuss survival scenarios, and enjoy a hearty lunch under the bright blue Colorado sky. All in all, it was a successful day as evidenced by the amazing quinzhee shelter built and the few snores that accompanied the bus ride home.
Click here for a slideshow of the day’s adventures.
A special thanks goes out to Wildland Awareness Educational Institute for use of their land outside of beautiful Conifer, CO!
With wind chills predicted at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the brave students from this quarter’s Community Adventure Program (CAP) at New Vista High School headed to the mountains near Allenspark, CO to take part in their first overnight of the class! Several students had never camped before and many had never been winter camping. With a week of preparation under their belts they set off, with many layers, to experience the Colorado outdoors in early November.
As the group drove into the mountains they took stock of how much snow had accumulated in hopes of building a quinzhee shelter. The construction is quite simple, but requires some labor. It is built by piling snow then hollowing out the pile after it has settled. The dome shape and strength of the settled snow combine to make a structurally stable shelter that can be quite warm for 2 or 3 people. After setting up camp the group got to work piling snow for their own quinzhee. A hike up the hill to take in the view of Long’s and Meeker’s Peaks gave enough time to let the pile settle and after just over an hour of trading off digging out the shelter they had created a sturdy quinzhee. For the ultimate test, one adventurous student even slept in it overnight. The group took it down the next day and everyone was surprised at the strength of the structure as 8 students stood atop the quinzhee and could not break it down without shovels and a lot of energy! Check out the video below.
A few other highlights of the trip included an amazing moment watching clouds move quickly over the waxing moon, changing the light in a beautiful nighttime display. The group also had a great time playing a camo game and honing their stalking skills, as well as learning to use senses other than sight in the evening drum-stalk. CAP students had a wonderful time and learned a great deal that they can put to use on their next winter outing in December!
A big thanks to the Cheeley Family for the use of their land and the drivers who helped us get to our site.
From the wilds of the city to the wilds of the Colorado mountains, students from West Denver Prep’s Lake Campus embarked on a journey to learn how to survive amidst the chill of a fall weekend. Cottonwood Institute teamed up with West Denver Prep’s enrichment program to give kids the opportunity to connect to the outdoors, learn more about the environment, give back to the land, and then connect their experience to their everyday lives.
After setting up camp at Calwood Outdoor Education Center near Jamestown, the group went on an interpretive hike to learn more about their surroundings and become more attune to nature. They learned how to foxwalk, played a variety of nature awareness games, and practiced several ways to make fire. But wait, the fun was not over yet. Students were eager to try out their foxwalking skills in the dark while participating in the blind drum stalk, in which students are blindfolded and then proceed to find their way through the woods back to camp using only the sound of the beating drum. As the stars lit up the night sky, everyone gathered around the campfire to enjoy smores and reflect on an active, yet exciting day.
The next morning dawned bright and early, and after a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and all the fixings, it was off to give back to Calwood for generously donating their land for our overnight. The students worked together, lifting and dragging logs to cover up an old trail. Their strong work ethic continued over into the first part of making debris shelters. But as the afternoon wore on and students became worn out, their efforts waned and shelters took a backseat to rest and snacks. While the students were tired at the end of the adventure, there were still smiles and laughter to be had by all as everyone clamored into the van and headed back into the wilds of the city.
Click here for a slideshow of the weekend’s adventure.
The trip was planned and facilitated by students and ETF mentors with borrowed gear and organizational help from The Cottonwood Institute to help them pursue their goal of rekindling their passions for environmental sustainability while also reconnecting with peers outside of school. The ETF knows that time in the wild is an important part of staying grounded while working on the tough issues that environmental sustainability can pose.
The group enjoyed hiking, climbing, and exploring in the breathtaking landscape of the Colorado Rockies. They also partook in cooking adventures, playing in the woods, and singing around the fire. While many stayed in cabins, a few of the braver students slept in tents. In the morning, they awoke to snow on the ground with delicate flakes still falling. The superheroes spent time talking about what inspired them to make change in the community and about their plans and ideas for the coming year.
One member said, “You can hear the most depressing stories, but when I see a group taking action to make change, no matter how small, I am never depressed.” The retreat achieved the goals to reconnect and plan for the coming year. The time away reminded students and mentors of the precious land they are working to protect.
Click here to read more about what motivates these amazing teens!
Article written by Earth Task Force member, Raina Galbiati, and edited by Paige Doughty.
Update – Earth Task Force Students WIN the Center for Resource Conservation’s Youth Conservation ReWard
Congratulations goes out to ETF on a ReWard well deserved! Keep up the strong work!
Congratulations! The Earth Task Force’s Board of Super Heroes (BOSH) was chosen as a finalist for the Center for Resource Conservation‘s Youth Conservation ReWard. These four outstanding students, Kelly Percy, Kelly Muller, Malcolm Marshall, and Aleyna Porreca, are all leading members of New Vista High School’s (NVHS) Earth Task Force (ETF).
The Earth Task Force (ETF) is an environmental club at New Vista High School in Boulder, which came into fruition from a small group of CAP students wanting to do more for NVHS. CAP is the Community Adventure Program, an environmental education class offered at New Vista High School in Boulder. Both ETF and CAP are sponsored by the Cottonwood Institute.
Truly all of the students of the ETF have achieved amazing things at their school: having solar panels and low flow toilets installed, buying vending misers for the vending machines, hosting an annual all local lunch for the entire school for free, inviting the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) to present to the school. And the members of BOSH do even more.
BOSH meets on a weekly basis, outside of school time, to plan an agenda for the upcoming week’s meetings. They pick up the slack if their peers do not finish what they’ve started, and they model incredible enthusiasm and inspiration for changing the world through conservation of resources and much more. These four students volunteer upwards of 160 hours of time every year in service to the conservation of resources in Boulder County.
It is not easy to be a peer leader at any age. In particular in high school it is a daring and daunting task to stand up in front of a group friends and speak for what you care about. Even more so it is difficult to motivate other students and to help them stay on task. As these students have come into their own as leaders the ETF has run more efficiently.
In addition to their leadership positions, a few of their specific successes are listed below:
Kelly Percy has been a Public Relations Officer extraordinaire. She is a logistical master and speaks passionately about upcoming projects and environmental issues at weekly all-school assemblies. She helped design and screen print t-shirts for the group bearing the ETF student-designed logo. She writes weekly announcements in the school newspaper and manages the ETF bulletin board. She has also been a dedicated part of the Transportation Transformation Team, ETF’s program that rewards students for using alternative transportation to arrive at school.
Kelly Muller is our ACE Coordinator. In this role she reports all of our completed projects to ACE using an online form. She is often the voice at weekly meetings: writing the agenda, getting people’s attention and helping her peers (and sometimes her teachers) stay on task. This fall she planned and ran a Fall Retreat for 20 students in the mountains. She has also volunteered countless hours in the school’s garden, which is designed as both a place for students to experiment with growing their own food and a pollinator habitat.
Malcolm Marshall is the student behind the often repeated and incredibly popular “Bring Your Own Mug Day.” At this event students at school are offered free coffee and tea if they bring their own mug. Malcolm solicits donations, coordinates servers for the event, picks up the beverages and posts informational signs about the 63 million to go cups trashed daily in the U.S. alone. He has also been a co-leader in our Local Lunch event.
Aleyna Porreca has taken the lead on one of the biggest most complicated projects the ETF has done three years running. This year ETF will be hosting our third annual “All Local Lunch” for the students and staff of New Vista. This event involves hours of phone calling and emails to request food donations, menu planning, donation pick ups, schedule coordination, not to mention prepping and cooking food for 200+ people. Every year Aleyna has grown in her capacity as a leader of this project. In addition Aleyna has become an accomplished student leader on wilderness trips through the Cottonwood Institute. She believes that one of the most important parts of inspiring environmental citizenry is connecting students with nature.
There is no doubt that these students deserve high honors and recognition for the work they have done and will continue to do in service to the conservation of resources in Boulder County and beyond.
Here’s to BOSH – While you are already winners, may this prestigious award go to you! You deserve it!
Written by Paige Doughty and edited by April Pishna.