Cottonwood Institute and ALL Careers Overview
Cottonwood Institute connects students to the outdoors and inspires them to take action to improve their schools, the community, and the environment. We hope that many of our students will be inspired to continue making positive change long after they graduate from their CI program, whether they follow a traditional “environmental” career path or not.
The resources on this page will help you explore ways to continue making positive environmental change through whichever career path you choose.
“ALL Careers” Approach
What is the “ALL Careers” approach to education? It is an effort to make explicit connections between environmental knowledge/concern and ALL careers–not just the small segment of the economy made up of “environmental careers” as presently understood. To create a sustainable, “green” economy, everything we do should be guided by an understanding of how living systems work and how human systems fit in.
How does an “ALL Careers” approach help you as you think about your future? If you are concerned about environmental trends and how they are and will continue to affect our world, you may want to be part of the solution! An “ALL Careers” approach can empower and inspire you with a solid sense of how you can contribute to the creation of a sustainable economy no matter what your skills or aptitudes, and therefore career direction. This approach then leads to specific knowledge and training on how you can put environmental principles and concern into practical use in whatever career direction you choose.
- Blog: “Environmental Literacy and ALL Careers“
- Resources for an “ALL Careers” approach to education
- Example actions to advance an “ALL Careers” approach
“when people begin to consider the career possibilities of human restoration through nature, their eyes light up: here is a positive, hopeful view of the human relationship with the Earth, a way to make a living and a life.” – Richard Louv
Resources For Students: Leadership and Careers in the Outdoors
In addition to the “ALL Careers” approach, you may be interested in a career directly involved in natural resources, environmental action, and the outdoors. These links can help you get started:
- Careers in Natural Resource Initiative, a resource of the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education.
- Colorado Young Leaders, a youth driven organization focused around service & leadership.
- Colorado Youth Congress, works with top high school leaders statewide — from urban, suburban and rural communities, across the political spectrum — to drive transformative systems change.
- Earth Guardians, a Boulder-based nonprofit focused on environmental and social justice.
- TeamWorks, a summer youth employment, leadership development, and conservation program (ages 16-20). 2021 Summer Trail Crew applications open through May 1!
- Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, offering volunteer opportunities for ages 6+ and a Leadership Program open to high school students.
Leadership & Job Opportunities (Denver Metro):
- Denver Botanic Gardens, with a Summer volunteer program and year-round leadership program (ages 13+).
- Denver Museum of Nature & Science, offering various volunteer opportunities (ages 14+).
- GroundWork Denver Youth Teams, opportunities to work on a team of peers to improve Denver’s urban environment throughout the year.
- Plains Conservation Center (Aurora), volunteer as a Junior Counselor with summer camps, campfire programs, overnights, and more.
Leadership & Job Opportunities (North Metro):
- Boulder County Youth Corps, fielding crews to complete outdoor projects with various departments of Boulder County (ages 14-17).
- City of Boulder Junior Rangers Youth Jobs, hiring trail crew and youth park ranger crews providing summer employment (ages 14-17).
- Environmental Education Corps, paid summer and school year opportunities to help facilitate EE programs with Thorne Nature Center.
- Longmont Museum Volunteer Opportunities and Camps, offering summer camps for students up to age 16 and seasonal volunteer opportunities with the library.
- Teens Inc. Outdoor Leadership program (Nederland), with after-school climbing and girls wilderness programs during the school year, leadership retreats in Summer.
- Wildlands Restoration Volunteers Youth Leadership Program, offering trail building, outdoor adventures, and leadership development opportunities (ages 14-18).
Youth Councils: organized groups that help you raise your voice and take action with your peers. Most require a one or two year commitment.
- Aurora Youth Commission
- Boulder – Youth Opportunity Advisory Board
- City of Denver Sustainability Advisory Council
- CO Department of Public Health and Environment Youth Partnership for Health (Denver, open to all CO students ages 13-19, paid stipend)
- Denver Mayor’s Youth Commission
- Lafayette — Nature Kids Youth Advisory Board
Resources For Business Leaders and Policy Makers:
- B Corporation: Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
- Good Business Colorado: Good Business Colorado is a grassroots organization of values-driven business owners working to build a prosperous economy, equitable communities, and a sustainable environment.
- Green 360 Career Catalyst
- Green Latinos, a nonprofit addressing natural resources and conservation issues that affect the health and welfare of the Latino community in the United States.
- Next 100 Coalition – Colorado: Next 100 Colorado is committed to the establishment of a just and inclusive parks and public lands system. An inclusive approach to public lands over the next 100 years must be driven by three guiding principles: reflect the faces of our country, respect all cultures, and actively engage all people.
- Regenerative Recovery Coalition: (RRC) is a 300+ member collaboration of nonprofits, businesses, academic institutions, government agencies and individuals boldly working together to build Colorado forward towards a regenerative economy.
- Blog by Richard Louv: “Want a Nature-Smart Career?“
- Youth Celebrate Diversity and the Colorado Youth Diversity Conference (January 2021)