Earth Task Force and Cottonwood Institute Present at National Green Schools Conference
The Earth Task Force (ETF), the environmental club at New Vista High School in Boulder, sponsored by the Cottonwood Institute (CI), took part in a whirlwind of events, workshops and speeches at the National Green Schools Conference in Denver February 27th-29th. A tremendous amount of environmental sustainability topics were covered throughout the conference including the Earth Task Force story and vision presented by our very own ETF members in a breakout workshop. They also listened to nationally-renowned keynote speakers, participated in a student summit, and heard stories of other like-minded organizations and schools; not to mention the talking robot named Mrfy, made out of recycled and reused materials!
On the first day, members of the ETF participated in a student summit; connecting students from around the country who are committed to addressing environmental issues within their schools and communities. Each ETF member went to a breakout session that covered different environmental sustainability topics. After having fantastic brainstorming meetings, all the groups at the student summit heard Alec Loorz, one of the leading young voices in the US on the issue of climate change, speak about the global issues that are happening due to climate change. He spoke eloquently about his own personal story of becoming a climate change activist at the age of 12.
On Tuesday, ETF members returned to Denver to partake in the many different breakout sessions and events. They listened to inspiring tales of positive social and environmental change from a great keynote speaker and had a delicious and eye-opening experience during lunch. The lunch, put on by the Boulder Valley School District’s Director of Food Services, Ann Cooper, showcased how unhealthy the average school lunch is; did you know pizza is considered a vegetable! After participating in more afternoon breakout sessions, ETF members went home to prepare for their big presentation.
On the final day of the conference ETF members, mentors, and the Cottonwood Institute Adventure Coordinator presented on CI’s successes at New Vista High School. All were nervous standing in their silly superhero costumes amidst the fancy digs of the Hyatt lobby, but the team gathered their supplies and took a collective deep breath. The presentation involved interactive activities to simulate the incredible experiences students and adults have during CI’s programs, as well as telling the story of success through the individual perspectives and experiences of those working with ETF and the Community Adventure Program (CAP), another CI sponsored class held at New Vista where students connect to the outdoors.
As the session wrapped up, the Green Schools Conference Team felt they had accomplished their goal of spreading CI’s vision and the ETF’s mission to others involved in environmental sustainability. The conference left attendees inspired and reinvigorated to continue to do what we do best: saving the planet in fun, creative ways!
Written by ETF intern, Aaron Fox
Edited by Paige Doughty, ETF mentor
Click here for a slideshow of the whirlwind of activities!
Six weeks ago a group of boys and girls from Casa de la Esperanza gathered together in nervous anticipation for the first ever Casa CAP program.
Casa de la Esperanza (House of Hope) is a residential community in Longmont dedicated to helping agricultural workers. The learning resource center at Casa provides educational and recreational services to its residents, including an onsite after-school program and academic center. Cottonwood Institute has teamed up with Casa to offer a mini version of our core academic program, The Community Adventure Program (CAP). CAP teaches students essential outdoor and wilderness survival skills necessary to comfortably and competently explore the outdoors, while providing them with the tools and resources to tackle important environmental issues affecting their communities in order to help change the world. We put these two amazing programs together to form Casa CAP.
For the next five weeks, Casa students spent their Wednesday evenings learning about the importance of community, the wonders of nature, and how to survive in the wilderness. They became leaders while understanding the importance of being part of a team. They played outside, made fires, roasted marshmallows, created educational posters, helped an injured bird, learned about gardening and seeds, and made bird-feeders. Most importantly, though, they learned that they have the power to create change.
Casa CAP consisted of many smiles and loud laughter, crayons and paper everywhere, popcorn and marshmallows galore, pine-cones and tiny little seeds, and even one gigantic parachute. It all culminated into an action project benefiting the community and its winged friends. The students worked hard creating pine-cone bird feeders giving the birds a safe place to eat and play, while giving Casa residents the beauty of bird-song. It was a flurry of activities in a short period of time that resulted in building a stronger community and an even stronger sense of purpose. It only takes a moment!
A huge shout-out to our instructors, Eric and Deb, for their ingenuity, their flexibility, and most of all, their ability to inspire! We also could not have offered this program without funding from the Brett Family Foundation and the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County.
Until next time, relive the smiles and laughter by clicking here for a slideshow of the program’s activities.