Written by Program Relationships Manager Teagan Papke.
“Almost 20 years later, I have been getting hit hard with the deep realization of how important the lessons that I learned through the Community Adventure Program (CAP) really were. I realize now how so many humans really don’t understand the ideas of basic survival, Leave No Trace, and the fundamentals of environmentalism. Looking at what Ford has created fills my heart with joy. Programs like this should be available to every teen. I highly recommend joining, supporting and getting involved with the Cottonwood Institute. I know I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being you and doing what you do.”
These are some powerful words from CAP Class alum, Coral Elise Amayi. Coral attended CAP Class at New Vista High School in 2003-2004, the very first year we piloted CAP! We followed up with Coral to hear more about what she remembers from CAP, her experience with Cottonwood Institute (CI), and how that has played a role in her life today. It was amazing to hear about all the incredible endeavors she’s pursuing! Read on to see all the ways in which she’s applying and expanding on her learning from CI to now help change the world!
What do you remember most about your CI experience?
In CAP Class, I remember recording a radio ad to play around the Boulder area called “The Scoop on Dog Poop” about the need to take action and pick up after our pets for the health of our environment.
That, and our camping trip to St. Mary’s Glacier in January, in which we built a snow fort. That night taught me about compassion and empathy and working for the greater good when I gave up my space in the snow fort to sleep in the tent with somebody who was feeling sick and scared.
What are you up to these days?
My husband and I own and operate three businesses, all falling under our umbrella brand of Custodians of the Universe. Our mission is to clean up the world, one little act of kindness at a time.
DanceClean is a supplement company designed for the music festival experience. Our main product, Concert Mix, is designed to give concert goers a healthy option that provides them the vitamins and nutrients they need to dance all night long. We provide harm reduction services and we also set up and maintain composting toilet systems that turn the waste from the festival into nutrient sponges to grow trees on the properties where we hold our events.
Myco Munchies is a vegan mushroom jerky company and we are getting ready to launch into a national brand. Our jerky has just as much protein as turkey jerky, but takes 0.1% of the land and water use to grow.
Sunwaters Soil Systems is a landscaping design company helping our neighbors with rainwater catchment, zero waste design, and helping to build healthy soils with a thriving micro ecosystem.
Are there any skills or things you learned from CI that have come in handy in your life?
I use my knowledge of zero waste practices everyday. I use the survival skills I learned in practice when camping. My understanding of the need to protect the environment and humanity as a whole blossomed through the courses I learned through CAP.
Looking back now, how has your CI experience impacted you long term?
I actively encourage every parent I know to seek out programs such as those provided by Cottonwood Institute for their children, so that they can have these same skills that have been so valuable to me. I donate the little I have whenever I can and I know that when our businesses really become successful, that Cottonwood will be one of the first non-profits that we choose to sponsor.
How has your CI experience helped you create positive change in your community?
My entire life is based on acts of service. My husband and I have been living by the life motto of “minimizing our carbon footprint while maximizing our human imprint.”
My passion to start DanceClean stems from my desire to help my community and my friends and help to create ecstatic experiences that make them want to become better people. Vending at large music festivals gives me a soapbox to stand on and allows me to open up small conversations with each person who steps in my booth. Talking about our vegan mushroom jerky and our health products opens the doors for many to new ideas about a sustainable environment and a healthy body.
Based on your CI experience, what advice would you give to other students?
Get outside of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself. Put yourself outside of yourself, and open yourself up to new experiences.
You get to choose your impact on the world. Choose to make a good one.
Thanks so much for sharing your time and experiences with us, Coral, and for your amazing work in health, zero waste practices, and sustainability!
Looking for other ways to connect with fellow Cottonwood alums?