2011 has been a phenomenal year filled with amazing accomplishments, awards, and inspiring stories about our students getting outdoors and taking action to make a difference in the community. Here are our top 10 favorite stories from 2011:
10. Cottonwood Institute Hosts Environmental Leadership Summit With Johnson & Wales
The Cottonwood Institute would like to thank all of our students, parents, instructors, board members, educational partners, donors, supporters, and cheerleaders for making 2011 such a success.
To help ensure we have an extraordinary 2012, please consider making a tax-deductible donation by December 31, 2011 by Clicking Here.
As I reflect about the impact the Cottonwood Institute had this past year, I am delighted to see our impact surge in 2011.
We do a lot more that just connect kids to the outdoors. In the words of one of our instructors Madeline Bachner, “Our courses are centered around cultivating direct action for positive change, appreciation for nature, an interest in environmental issues, a passion for community involvement, and inspired service.”
As you and your family consider supporting your favorite charities for Colorado Gives Day and during the holiday season, here are a few reasons to invest in the Cottonwood Institute:
STRONG PARTNERSHIPS: We served over 350 youth and delivered over 13,000 program contact hours in 2011 and we couldn’t have done it without strong partnerships from:
- West Denver Preparatory Charter School serving low-income public school students in Denver, CO.
- New partnerships serving diverse students from Casa de la Esperanza, Lakewood High School, GOAL Academy, Johnson & Wales University, Buckley Air Force Base, and Welcome Home Warrior.
- New Vista High School serving public school students in Boulder, CO to deliver the Community Adventure Program and support the Earth Task Force.
ACTION PROJECTS: Our students recorded over 6,000 environmental service-learning project hours completing “Action Projects” to help address local issues in their schools, the community, and the environment. Here are a few highlights:
- A Meal For Many: New Vista High School and The Kitchen Restaurant Host Local Lunch 2011
- West Denver Prep Students Learn About Liquid Gold For World Water Monitoring Day
- Gardening Made Simple and 100 Ways To Change The World
- West Denver Prep “Whips” Into Shape This Spring
- Cottonwood Institute Wins $25,000 and 2011 Markham Mark of Distinction Award
- Earth Task Force Recognized for National Green Prize and Receives $10,000 Check!
- Earth Task Force Students Win the Center For Resource Conservation’s Youth Conservation ReWard
AMAZING INSTRUCTORS: Anyone can write a lesson plan, but it takes gifted instructors to deliver and facilitate a high impact program. We could not do what we do without April Pishna, Madeline Bachner, Paige Doughty, Paul Dreyer, Clark Patton, Tim Joynt, Kristin Maharg, Ryan Johns, Jason Lawrence, and all of the other phenomenal instructors we have the honor and privilege of working with each year.
Finally, I wanted to share a quote we read to students at the end of our courses:
“Don’t be on the sidelines, be on the court of life. Don’t go through this world on autopilot. Don’t always take the easy path. Don’t go through this world with blinders on. Go through this world with wide-angle vision, be a leader, challenge yourself, walk your talk, take the initiative, step up when others won’t, because in the end that’s what life is all about. Your community needs you, the environment needs you, the world needs you. We need your energy, your voice, your perspective, your optimism, your hope.” – Anonymous
Ford Church, M. A., Founder and Executive Director
The Community Adventure Program (CAP) rounded out 2011 with a great project on healthy alternatives to fast food. The students researched and used experience with their peers eating habits to shape a project based on finding healthy and affordable alternatives to the easily accessible fast food chains near the school. CAP students became interested in a few different aspects of eating well: from thinking about waste in restaurants and packaging, to how animals are treated, the distance the food travels to get to your plate, in addition to basic nutrition.
The class had a great resource experience meeting with Whitney Johnson, Whole Foods’ healthy eating specialist and hearing from their meat department. They learned about the ways that animal lifestyles are qualified for meat labeling in the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Program. The class toured the different departments of Whole Foods looking for nutrition, less packaging and good deals. They also made delicious and simple black bean humus with Whitney’s assistance. The deli was very kind to the students, providing a late lunch with lots of yummy options and highlighting their new deal of 5 choices for $5 starting this winter.
The class’ closing remarks from their presentation were as follows:
“We all knew that fast food was bad for us, but we didn’t know what went on behind the scenes. We all live in a time where we’re trying to make a change. What we put into our bodies is a big part of our lives. Know what it is you’re eating. We can’t force you to eat better, but it’s your choice to eat well or eat badly. Keep in mind what’s in the food you’re eating, and how far it’s traveled to get to you. It costs a little more to eat real food, but it’s worth the price.”
A huge thank you to Whitney and Whole Foods for providing us with great resources and ideas!
As Community Adventure Program (CAP) students reflected on another amazing quarter, they came together as a class and had a blast learning and playing on their overnights and at school. They researched food issues and developed a great sense of what goes into making and eating quality food. But, as usual, the main takeaway was an appreciation of the outdoors and each other.
“Going through this class made me gain a stronger sense of acceptance, respect and teamwork!” – Zoe Clark
The overnight weekend was a huge success. There were some great moments shared and remembered from looking out over the valley towards Long’s Peak. Many students commented on the vast stretch of trees and amazing feeling of not seeing much evidence of people. The CAP class made a solid quinzhee on our overnight and learned a lot about staying warm in the Colorado winters. They worked well together, and played even better.
“CAP was much more than surviving in the wilderness, it was about having fun while you learn how to keep yourself safe and really paying attention to what’s going on around you in the world you live in.” Jordan Hartnett
The class grew in their awareness of the world and how we treat it. They looked forward to class and time to work on their project. They were a fun talkative group that put some great effort into their learning.
“I rarely look forward to classes, but this was one I was happy to have in the afternoon as it was always a really mellow class where we could talk about different issues and learn about the wilderness.” Kai Sharp