Citizens of the United States represent about 5% of the world’s population but produce 30% of the world’s garbage. The Earth Task Force (ETF) was shocked by this amount of waste production. For years the ETF has searched for ways to reduce waste production at New Vista High School (NVHS) and save precious natural resources. Past projects have included recycling campaigns, reuse campaigns and a student-run composting program. Now they have been rewarded for all that hard work! At the beginning of April 2013 ETF partnered with Eco-Cycle to help NVHS become the first Green Star High School.
Eco-cycle’s Green Star Schools program works with schools with the goal of zero waste. The end goal is that none of the school’s waste is thrown into the landfill. Green Star Schools is a comprehensive program that involves educating the staff and student body about what goes where and it includes an industrial composting system!
For the last 4 years the ETF had been using an on site compost where compost was taken by the ETF’s members to an area at the back of the school. Unfortunately, it meant that not all products, like meat and dairy, could be composted and compostable flatware and silverware still had to be thrown away. Because of ETF’s hard work running the backyard composting program, they were thrilled to become a Green Star school and gain the ability to expand the compost program with an industrial level system. The industrial composting from Eco-Cycle now allows many different kinds of items to be composted at New Vista further reducing the waste we produce.
The Earth Task Force and Ecocycle hosted a Green Star School launch on April 3rd, which included a student written skit performed by students and staff to educate the NVHS community about the importance of conserving our precious natural resources. Eco-cycle introduced the new recycling and composting systems. At the end of the presentation representatives from each classroom came to pick up trash, recycle, and compost bins for each room in the school. The launch was fun for the entire school and a great way to start off the Green Star School program. Students are happy about the new waste disposal system and the amount of foodstuffs being composted rather than thrown away. The office staff has decided to host zero waste events with financial support from the Earth Task Force.
Written by student journalist Allison Bell.
The Earth Task Force 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.
The 2013 Base Camp Bash is almost upon us on Saturday, April 20th, 2013 from 7-10pm at Artwork Network in Denver, CO.
What is the Base Camp Bash you ask? Only the most fun and exciting event the Cottonwood Institute hosts once a year to raise money to support our programs to connect students to the outdoors and empower them to tackle local environmental issues.
- The Best Food And Beverages Denver Has To Offer: We will be featuring “S’mores Pancakes” from Snooze, Cottonwood Organic White beer from Wynkoop Brewing Company, and great wine. For just a few more bucks you can come to the VIP party from 5:30pm – 7pm before the main event and enjoy a local cocktail tasting with mixologists from Ace Eat Serve and Steuben’s featuring spirits from Leopold Bros. and appetizers from The Kitchen restaurant.
- A Fabulous Silent Auction: We have adventurous auction items, including: A luxurious 4-night stay to one of 20 exotic locations courtesy of Portico, outdoor gear from Mountainsmith, restaurant gift certificates to the best restaurants in Denver like Root Down, and much more! To check out what we have so far and to start bidding, Click Here.
What’s that? You have another commitment that night you just can’t wiggle out of? Well it better be a good excuse…But seriously, you will be missed, AND there are still two ways you can help:
- You can Pre-Bid on our amazing silent auction items until Friday, April 19th, 2013 at 5:00pm. Pre-bids will open up the bidding at the main event on April 20th, so if you can’t come and you really want something, bid high! Remember, we all need to buy gifts for friends and family, so why not shop at our auction and support a great cause?
- You can make a Tax-Deductible Donation to help support our programs for underserved students. School budgets are still being cut and the Cottonwood Institute is providing life-changing programs for underserved students in the Denver/Boulder area. All donations from the Base Camp Bash help support our high priority programs with Casa de la Esperanza, New Vista High School, Operation: Military Kids, Strive Preparatory Schools, and more.
We could not pull all this off without the incredible support of our sponsors and VIPs this year. They support great organizations like the Cottonwood Institute, so please support them!
$5,000+ Level Sponsors
$2,500 Level Sponsors:
Dr. and Mrs. John M. Church, Jr.
$1,000 Level Sponsors:
Anonymous, Dr. and Mrs. Stefan Mokrohisky, Dr. and Mrs. William Conway, Linda Bjork, Mr. and Mrs. Chris Zook
$500 Level Sponsors:
Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Waters
Here are a few quick updates from the New Vista High School Learning Garden Crew:
- We raised $5,000 to support the Learning Garden. This money is allocated to our Garden Coordinator position and will support it for two years!
- We hired an experienced educator and marvelous Garden Coordinator, Melanie Goldbort. Melanie is skilled in gardening and passionate about connecting people with their food. One of her goals in life is to create a new generation of farmers. She also co-founded Boulder Family Farms. To read her full bio Click Here.
- Melanie is meeting with teachers to write standards-based garden lessons for high-schoolers! Thank you teachers for taking the time!
- A garden club for students at NVHS will begin this April. The 1st meeting will be Thursday, April 25th, 2013. Stay tuned for more information. Or Email Melanie if you are already interested.
- We have received word from Boulder Valley School District that they will support our garden with funding this year. We’re going to buy seeds, tools, irrigation materials and more.
- We will be partnering with Boulder Food Rescue to donate a large part of our harvest to communities in need and our Learning Garden will officially be named a “Garden Against Hunger.”
- We need volunteers of all ages to love, care for, and eat from our garden this summer. If you or someone you know is interested in helping out, please Email Melanie Goldbort.
The New Vista High School Learning Garden 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. Learning Gardens are a product of The Kitchen Community in Boulder, CO.
The Cottonwood Institute welcomes the newest member to our team, Melanie Goldbort! Melanie is taking on the role of Learning Garden Coordinator at New Vista High School. Melanie will work closely with students and staff to develop an integrated learning garden curriculum for the high school level. As the snow begins to melt, you’ll find her at the New Vista High School garden planting, watering, weeding, and teaching others all about gardening.
Melanie has been in the field of education for over 10 years. She received her Bachelors in Applied Psychology from New York University and her Masters in Teaching from Montclair State University. She is a licensed Special Education teacher and has taught in New York, New Jersey and Hawaii. In recent years, she has combined her passion for healthy food, outdoor education, and community-building to help start a farm with an educational focus. She co-founded Boulder Family Farms, a local food company dedicated to growing, providing access to, and educating about organically-grown produce and humanely raised animals. The 3 acre farm on Cherryvale Road, which is home to two friendly goats, has chickens raised for organic eggs, produces vegetables for a small Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA) and an on-site Farm Stand. The farm also provides educational opportunities for people of all ages.
Are you a Cottonwood alumnus? We’d love to hear from you! What are you up to? Email Us!
We recently had the opportunity to reconnect with Brian Fauver, a Cottonwood Institute alumnus. Even as he enters a graduate degree program, he continues to use the problem-solving, critical thinking, and leadership skills he gained through CAP. Keep reading to learn how CI continues to impact Brian as a student, professional, and outdoor-connoisseur.
I am working two seasonal jobs: the first at the Denver Zoo, which is during the summer and fall. I help out with the Front Range Pika Project, which is a Citizen-Science project. The organization trains volunteers to collect data on pika habitat over time. I also work at the Natural Resource Ecology Lab at CSU, where I will be pursuing a graduate degree in the fall. My work there is about Citizen-Science, or Public Participation in Scientific Research/Community Based Monitoring. More specifically, I research the cultural differences in effectively managing a successful Citizen-Science program.
What do you remember most about your Cottonwood Institute (CI) experience?
I remember being a part of the CI community. After taking three CAP courses at New Vista High School in Boulder, I soon became at CI intern. While an intern, I went as a student on an Instructor Training overnight. I enjoyed looking at the organization from the several different perspectives: as a student, and as someone giving feedback.
What are the coolest skills you’ve learned from CI that you’ve been showing your friends or family?
Winter camping. Quinzees. And of course, friction fires.
How has your CI experience helped you create positive change in your community?
Before I took CAP, I wanted to help out with environmental conservation. I had interned at both the Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy. I couldn’t help feeling overwhelmed with my inability to change large national/regional scale problems. Taking CAP helped introduce me to the idea of local change and community organizing. This seemed like a much more attainable model.
Based on your CI experience, what piece of advice would you like to give to other students?
Since I took three different CAP courses, looking back, it is evident how much more effective the action projects that were group-inspired (rather than individually-inspired) were.
Try not to be too ambitious. Think big, but enact small tangible changes.
Edited by Katie Craig
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.
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!
After two overnight camping trips, Community Adventure Program students reflected on their experiences thus far. Many students made deep connections between our class and everyday life. Read what Lucy had to say about her CAP class wilderness experiences:
I got many things out of the two overnights that we went on as a CAP class. One of the main things I got out of the trips was new friends. When you are spending a lot of time close to the same people, you really get to know them, especially when you depend on them for food, water, and shelter. Especially by the end of the second trip, I was very comfortable spending time with my classmates, and I think now our whole class has a new dynamic. Something else that I took from these trips was a new perspective on how I live. I realized that I don’t spend enough time just by myself to think, and I also spend too much time depending on electronics and communication. After these trips, I will try to live more simply and not depend so much on electronic entertainment. I will also try to save some time for myself to just be outdoors and think.
One of the memorable things that I learned on our overnights was how to make a one match fire or a fire with flint and steel. On the first trip I learned how hard it is to make a fire in the first place, and on the second trip I learned that you can do it with one match and patience. Something that goes with this is that I learned how important it is not to become frustrated with bad results. The first time, we tried to make a fire for about an hour, and in that time we did not communicate as a group and we became very frustrated. However, the second time when we were much more patient and communicative, we started the fire quickly and easily. This is a lesson that is not only important for camping but also for life in general.
Something else that I noticed was that in nature, our senses seem to pick up and become much sharper. During my sit spot, I observed my surroundings with great detail. I was in a very good spot so that I could also hear echoes, and I even heard flapping wings of two birds over my head. I would never be able to hear something like this in civilization or even if I was around other people at the time. An example of how my sight improved was with the stars. In the wilderness, you can always see stars better because there are no city lights to interrupt them. I really appreciated the stars more when I could see them better, because I knew they wouldn’t be the same when we got back home.
I really enjoyed all parts of the trips, but there are several memorable highlights that stood out to me. On the first trip, my main highlight was when we reached the top of our hike and saw the amazing view. I really liked this because after a tiring hike, it was nice to sit and enjoy it for awhile and it felt like we had reached a goal. On the second trip, my highlight was probably the sit spot because we were in such an amazing and peaceful place. Those events are probably the things I will remember most about the trips, but I enjoyed every part of them. Overall, I thought these trips were an amazing and new learning experience and they were one of the best parts of my quarter. Now, I have a better understanding and appreciation for the environment that I will carry for the rest of my life.
Check out more pictures of our adventures by Clicking Here!
Written by Lucy Briggs, edited by Katie Craig.
On September 19th, 2012, the Earth Task Force started the beginning of something amazing. Students collaborated with The Kitchen Community to bring a brand new garden to the front of New Vista High School! Being one of the first high schools to receive one of these Learning Gardens from The Kitchen Community, it was a pretty exciting event. The Learning Gardens themselves are easy and affordable gardening systems designed to be an extension of the classroom. At New Vista, the event itself really strengthened the sense of community.
On the day of the event, everyone was so enthusiastic to finally begin the process of creating and planting the garden after lots of hard work and planning. The students in the Garden Workshop, taught by Hilary Sueoka, were some of the main contributors to the process of filling the beds on September 19th. The event was full of smiles and laughter. There was a hula hooping area which was loved by all, a drumming circle as well as food and painting. The event started at 12, and the beds were filled and ready to be planted by 3! On the following Thursday, and the next Monday, Advisories at New Vista took 15 minutes out of their class time to come help plant. Within a week of the garden install every student in NVHS had interacted with the new beds. To learn more and check out stunning photos of the project, go to: https://www.facebook.com/thelearningardenatnvhs.
Everything went smoothly and now there are happy little plants growing in the brand New Garden! Now it is the Earth Task Force’s job to fundraise in order to support a garden coordinator position and an integrated garden program at their school. To make a donation to support the garden, go to: www.givingfirst.org/learninggarden.
Written by: Leah Muller
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
It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. That someone is Katie Craig and she has hit the ground running! The Cottonwood Institute has been going through a fall transition of our own as we welcome Katie Craig as our new Adventure Coordinator and Community Adventure Program (CAP) Instructor at New Vista High School.
Katie brings a passion for adventure, community, and the environment to the Cottonwood Institute. While earning a B.A. in Government and Environmental Studies at St. Lawrence University, she explored a variety of experiential education models as a student, teacher, and guide. She weaves an artistic imagination and a love of the wild into all of her teaching. Katie has worked nationally and internationally for many outdoor and environmental education organizations, including the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), the Women’s Wilderness Institute, and the Appalachian Mountain Club. She spends her free time playing with the beautiful Juniper-dog, rock climbing, dropping knees, fermenting food, and practicing shavasana.
With our programming dream team back in place, we are excited to create some amazing adventures for schools and youth organizations for the rest of 2012 and beyond.