From Thanksgiving to New Years Day Americans throw away 25% more garbage than any other time of the year!
That extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of trash. Did you know…If each family in America wrapped only three presents in re-used materials it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields! In preparation for the holidays, Earth Task Force started a “Green Your Holidays” campaign. The students created fabulous posters to hang around the school showing different ways for students and staff to make their holidays greener. Methods included: using recycled materials to wrap presents, using reusable decorations at parties, and finding an alternative to cutting down trees.
The ETF used information from ecocycle’s green holidays website and created the posters out of recycled cardboard. The posters educated the New Vista community on how to waste less on the holidays while still having a good time. The ETF had a fantastic time creating the posters and they hope that students and staff had just as much fun greening their holidays.
The Earth Task Force (ETF) is a Cottonwood Institute-supported program at New Vista High School in Boulder, CO designed to give students an opportunity to take the lead to implement sustainability initiatives at their school.
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.
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.
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.
Another quarter of the Community Adventure Program has come to a close, but we inspired another all-star group of outdoor enthusiasts as well as old and new environmentally minded students. We had tons of fun on the overnights bonding with this small group. The weather was unseasonably warm for December camping and, while we talked of the serious issues of climate change, we enjoyed the sunny days!
We also put together a wonderful Action Project. We educated our school about the disappearance of honey bees and how to help take action. We also built a cold-frame to improve upon the growing season of the pollinator garden at New Vista High School. Our hope is that this can be used by future CAP classes to continue to invigorate our school garden, while supporting the dwindling bee population.
The students had a great time throughout the quarter and learned an immense amount about bees, gardening, wilderness skills and of course, themselves!
Here is how they tell it:
“When I heard about the Community Adventure Program I was interested in what they were doing, but unsure that they could do this at a public school…I have learned many things from this class, but most of all, that teamwork and to help the community and a fellow classmate is the best feeling to me.” -David Clement
“The best part of the class was that we spent almost half of it outside….I learn so much better when I am outside, it really helps me to think.” -Pace Dubois
“With the knowledge I have gained on the overnights I feel confident I could go out into the wild and not just survive but actually thrive for at least a couple of days.” -Max F. Rashbaum
“What I didn’t realize is that this class is so much more than just learning survival skills. I fell in love with this class.” James Hanifin
“I think that our Action Project went really well…” TJ Tharp
“I was stoked everyday to see what I was getting hands on experience with that day. And while I was learning these skills I was also servicing my community! It was like my dream for how school should be!” Max F. Rashbaum
“Throughout the quarter my opinion of CAP began to become more positive. I began to enjoy the interactions I had with my peers, and to enjoy being part of the CAP class community.” Jade Ueji
“I really feel as if CAP class #27 has developed into a small, friendly, eco-conscious community.” Tara Putorti
“CAP has opened my eyes to reducing my carbon footprint.” Hank White
“I will take what I learned from class and use it in the rest of my life. The cold frame and the other survival skills are really relevant to my life goals.” Pace Dubois
“This class made me realize that every single person is so unique.” James Hanifin
“CAP has made me more confident in my status as a transitional outdoors person, and has taught me a lot of valuable things about nature, teamwork, society, and the world at large.” Tara Putorti
Community Adventure Program (CAP) students unleashed their inner worker bee this quarter to create a great two-pronged Action Project that focused on honey bees and cold-frames. Based on early class discussions, the plight of the honey bee was a hot topic within this group, which was duly noted. However, they just couldn’t let go of the desire to continue the growth of the pollinator garden by building a cold-frame to help start plants and keep them growing during the colder shoulder seasons. So…….they combined their passions!
They started by educating themselves about what is happening to honey bees. They knew bees were disappearing at an alarming rate, but why? Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) was at the heart of their research. This is a mysterious problem that causes bees to literally disappear. There are many theories about the causes, everything from pesticides to cell phone use, but there is no one answer. Students conducted research on the web, consulted with Growing Gardens and watched a documentary called “Vanishing of the Bees.” This all came to the same disquieting notion that human activities as a whole are negatively affecting the lives of honey bees! So what can be(e) done?
They found the most simple and pervasive solution, aside from learning the art of beekeeping and starting your own hive, is to support local hives. As they learned from many of their sources, “it’s not about one person with 60,000 hives, it’s about 60,000 people with one hive.” So they set about attracting attention with honey…That’s right, a bake sale! They raised money for their cold-frame and attention to the bees by selling baked goods at school and encouraging the use of local honey to support local bee keepers. It was quite a success and spurred their energy to create a cold-frame to aid in the attraction of bees to their pollinator garden at New Vista High School.
A cold-frame is basically a small green-house that is low to the ground that keeps off the frost on cooler days at the beginning and end of the growing season. It works by trapping the heat of the sun under a window or door that allows access to a small box which contains the plants and the heat. The cold-frame came together quickly with donated and repurposed materials from ReSource in Boulder and friends of students. Just over 6 feet long and 3 feet high, their cold-frame should shelter many starts this spring as they bring their pollinator garden back to life.
Students are hopeful that the local bees will continue to survive and provide pollination for their garden and honey for their hives and a few of their baked goods. The fruit of their labor tastes sweet!
Check out the sweet video the students put together about their project:
This article was written by Madeline Bachner and edited by Ford Church.
- How much water do you use everyday?
- Where does your water come from?
- How long could you survive without water?
The second quarter CAP class chose “water” as their environmental issue. Students got excited about this issue after reading the New York Time article “The Future is Drying Up” by Joe Gertner. The article addresses water rights in the West and the imminent water shortage that Coloradans face if we continue to use water at our current rate of consumption.
After some initial conversations, much research, and feelings of being overwhelmed by such a big issue, students came up with the following problem statement:
In North America, the average American uses 600 liters of water a day, while the average African uses 6. In reality, humans need to use about 50 liters per day. Over consumption of water does not just mean taking long showers, leaving the tap running while you brush your teeth, or watering the lawn. One of our biggest consumers of water is industrial agriculture. To make one cotton T-shirt it takes 9oz of cotton. To make that t-shirt from that cotton it takes 25 bathtubs full of water. In homes, businesses, and industrial agriculture, our water is being polluted and unnecessarily used. As a result of the high demand for water we are putting our scarce supply of fresh water, and ourselves, at risk.
The students did a lot of research to be sure they were well-informed about water issues. The class met with the Keep It Clean Partnership, and took a tour of Boulder’s waste water treatment plant. They also read many articles from water experts. Students researched the sources of their own water and mapped their watersheds.
- The art group created educational posters and a collaborative mural using provocative art
- A second group created educational pamphlets
- A third created a movie about water in arid Colorado
- And to tie it all together the class wrote and performed a skit for the whole school.
The students aim to have their mural displayed in the City of Boulder’s water office. They distributed their pamphlets after their presentation to the whole school. The movie, an animated film which shows what the future might look like if we don’t change our habits was a hit, with one teacher exclaiming, “That was one of the best CAP presentations I’ve ever seen.”
The students worked hard to create a fantastic educational campaign and their water posters remain posted around the school on bathroom doors, above water fountains, and over sinks.
Well Done CAP!
Watch out, we’re going to do a little bragging to celebrate.
If you don’t know…CAP aspires to inspire students to change the world through community involvement, an increased awareness of local environmental issues, and practicing essential wilderness survival skills. CAP gives students a chance to grow from within and to become more confident in order to make change. In the words of one student, “the Community Adventure Program has changed my life.”
As a part of this service learning curriculum each CAP class does an Action Project, which focuses on an environmental issue. CAP students have implemented 22 unique action projects over the years, taking on everything from the creation of gardens and changing transportation habits to helping educate about non-point source water pollution and pollinators.
Partially as a result of this fantastic teaching model several CAP alumni have been nominated for the City of Boulder’s Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award. Many have won! One of our alumni received a $100,000 Environmental Stewardship Scholarship to Sterling College. But our students don’t stop there. Several CAP alumni have come back to become paid Cottonwood Institute instructors. We are so happy to have these superstars on board.
“CAP has shown me the potential that all human beings have. I have learned to have faith and trust in people and to have faith in myself as well… We have changed our world and look down upon ourselves for doing it. But I believe we have the potential to change it back. If we act with consideration, with knowledge, with awareness and respect for our planet and each other we can change the world in different ways — in better ways.” – Lindsey Q.
Happy sixth birthday, CAP, and way to go!
Chances are that the tortilla chips you just ate for lunch contain Genetically Modified Organisms (a.k.a. GMOs). Most of us have heard about GMOs, but what’s the big deal?
To learn more about GMOs, an incredibly complex and controversial issue, Community Adventure Program students at New Vista High School began researching the issue by reading articles from the Boulder Daily Camera and by watching a film entitled, The Future of Food. The students also spoke with community members, Laura Snider, an environmental journalist from the Boulder Daily Camera, and Donald Arrent, a local farmer with Red Wagon Organic Farm. Ms. Snider was able to speak eloquently about all sides of the issue, helping the students understand the opinions of people who oppose and approve of GMOs. Mr. Arrent spoke to students about why he chose not to grow GMO crops on his farm.
Students found that some people support GMO crops because they believe that they require less water, fertilizer, and herbicides. However, one of the biggest concerns they discovered was a GMO crop called “Roundup Ready.” These crops have been genetically modified to resist the herbicide Roundup. When Roundup is applied, it is harmful to other plants, wildlife, important pollinators such as bees, it can contaminate the soil and organic crops, and it can threaten water quality when the herbicide enters the watershed.
Right now, approximately 1,500 acres of genetically modified corn are grown on Boulder County Parks and Open Space and the Boulder County Commissioners are considering whether to allow genetically modified sugar beets this fall. Genetically modified sugar beets dominate the market and it is difficult to grow or find non-genetically modified sugar beets.
- Evaluated the contents of the vending machines located throughout the school and created a display to raise awareness about what products might contain GMOs
- Held a GMO-free bake sale
- Presented an awareness raising PowerPoint presentation for the school
- Hosted a GMO-free lunch for the school to raise awareness
- Created and wore t-shirts exhibiting information about GMO’s
- Placed numerous posters throughout the school detailing GMO’s
- Distributed fliers with information about GMO’s
During their Action Project week, students reached approximately 350 people in their school community. Because of their hard work and dedication, the students educated their peers and teachers about GMO’s, giving them the opportunity to make an informed opinion about what they think about the issue. Although it required great effort, CAP students made a positive impact in their school and in their community.
The more you do to help the world, the more powerful you feel, the less helpless… At the start of the quarter I was skeptical… I was sure I couldn’t learn anything new about the environmental problems of the world. When we began looking at issues I was close-minded and righteous. When we debated issues I had a strong “I am right and you are wrong” opinion. CAP has not only changed that righteousness, but it has ended it. As my mind open and I began to trust other people in the class I became more than willing to learn other people’s opinions. The Action Project renewed my faith in the human race.” Marley K., Community Adventure Program student.
“Just say no to GMOs!”
hey, there — whatcha eating? Chips? Did you know that over 90% of all corn grown in the USA is genetically modified?
The 1st quarter CAP class’s Action Project, GMOs, taught them this, and many other startling facts about the nation’s Genetically Engineered food. It also taught them to be pay attention to the food they choose to eat. For their action project week students:
- Evaluated the contents of the vending machine.
- Had a GMO free bake sale.
- Did an awareness raising power point presentation for the school.
- And Hosted a GMO-free lunch for the school to raise awareness.
Students were inspired to pick GMO’s as their topic when they learned that Boulder County Commissioners are trying to decide whether to allow genetically modified sugar beets to grow on Open Space Land. The commissioners will make a decision soon and hope also to create an overarching policy for GMOs in Boulder County.
Other awesome highlights from the week: during their vending machine audit, students found that many items being sold probably contained genetically modified ingredients, it’s impossible to say for sure because in the United States companies are not required to label products which contain GMOs, unlike Europe, on Wednesday. students dressed up as creatures negatively affected by GMOs and presented to the school about what they had learned during Community Gathering; Thursday’s GMO free lunch was a hit!
There were some challenges however. “It’s a really complex issue,” said one student. “It was hard to make it [Action Project Week] fun for people and educational.”
Students say, it was also a struggle get started and definitively plan out all the details to make a good Action Project. However, students said, “this class worked really well together,” and over the space of 9 weeks all made some solid friendships and learned a great deal about a pressing local environmental issue.
Great work, CAP class!