We are wrapping up another incredible programming year with the Cottonwood Institute and have been blown away by the students we have served and the Action Projects they have taken on to improve their schools, the community, and the environment.
In 2012, we served over 375 youth, logged over 15,000 program contact hours, and recorded over 6,500 service-learning project hours “changing the world, one adventure at a time!”
So what were our students actually up to you ask? Here is a list of our Top 10 Inspiring Stories from 2012:
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation before December 31, 2012 to help make sure we have the resources to continue to deliver amazing programs in 2013 by Clicking Here.
Happy Holidays from the Cottonwood Institute!
This has certainly been one of Colorado’s hottest summers, but that did not deter the Buckley Airforce Base Youth Group from going out to the woods for a weekend of adventure and learning with the Cottonwood Institute. On June 23rd they departed to the Colorado Lions Camp and Conference Center outside of Woodland Park near Colorado Springs to brave the heat and wander the woods.
After setting up camp, the group dove quickly into learning about fire skills and shelter building. Fire became a big topic on this course, as the kids witnessed the beginning of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire. They watched the column of smoke grow and billow, coming face to face with the knowledge that fire can affect anyone, anytime, anywhere. Knowing their location was safe from the fire, the students were eager to learn more about nature and survival.
The afternoon brought on a two hour exploration starting in the ponderosa pine forest and winding down into a ravine to a boggy, willow-filled environment. This became the highlight of the course. The students found some intriguing bones and spent a good deal of time asking questions and speculating as to what had happened, what animal they were looking at, what gender it was, why it died, etc. Nature awareness was also brought into play as the group observed and identified the different plants in the changing environment.
To wind down the weekend’s events, each group member shared a story, leading into unique and interesting conversations, including a discussion on what it means to connect to nature. Although the course was short, the adventures, lessons, and friendships built will last forever. What more can you ask for?
We are very thankful to all of the donors and supporters who made this course possible for these military youth, especially the Markham Vineyard’s Mark of Distinction Program, which helped fund this project. But don’t take our word for it, check out this short thank you video from our students:
Written by Kelly Muller. Edited by April Pishna.
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
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.