One of the core programs at the Cottonwood Institute is called the Community Adventure Program (CAP). CAP is a class offered to public high schools students, which combines outdoor survival skills with environmental awareness and education. Throughout the class, students design an Action Project to address an environmental issue that is affecting their local community.
Issue: This past quarter at New Vista High School students chose to focus their Action Project on the environmental impact of the food industry. They set the intention to spread awareness about the benefits of buying local and organic foods and how this can reduce our environmental footprint.
After spending time researching what it takes for a business to become eco-friendly or “green,” students decided to interview restaurants around Boulder about their ecological practices. The students asked questions such as, what percent of the restaurant’s food is local and organic, where their meat and seafood comes from, and what the business is doing to reduce their waste and energy consumption. In addition, the students spent three days volunteering at Growing Gardens and Abbondanza Organic Seeds and Produce in Boulder to experience how their food is grown and cultivated. In exchange for their volunteer efforts, students received organic seeds to grow their own organic gardens at home.
“My favorite part of the action project was the time that we spent volunteering on the local farms. I enjoyed that it gave us the opportunity to be outside in the sun working with a tangible aspect of our project. I also felt that it taught us the most valuable lesson that we could have learned from this project – in order to successfully eat ecologically, we must reconnect with our ‘roots’ and know where our food comes from.” Olivia Gray, Community Adventure Program Student.
Impact: Students created a brochure for the local restaurants they interviewed that outlined why it is important to buy local and organic food, easy things they can do to become more ecologically friendly and various resources and suppliers of organic food in the area. The students also created a second brochure to organize all the data they collected from the restaurants, and show what these businesses are already doing to become more green. Students were also featured in the Boulder Daily Camera in an article called, “Students Get Dirty in Lafayette Learning about Locally Grown Food.” It’s refreshing to see positive stories about how students are taking action to change their communities!