| Ford Church

CAP Alumni Spotlight: Peter Zola

Peter Zola We caught up with Peter Zola, an amazing Community Adventure Program (CAP) student alumni from New Vista High School in Boulder, CO who is now 31 years old. He was gracious enough to fill us in on what he’s up to these days.  Of course, he’s still “Livin’ the Dream!” as our Executive Director, Ford Church always encourages his students to do.

What are you up to these days?

“These days I am a teacher in a under-resourced elementary school in Aurora, CO. I taught 4th grade for the past 4 years and this year I am teaching 1st grade. Just last December I completed my second Masters Degree in Mathematics Education.”

What CI program(s) did you take?

“I took one of the first CAP programs when it was offered at New Vista High School back in 2004.”

Peter Zola

What do you remember most about your Cottonwood Institute (CI) experience?

“Getting the chance to get school credit for learning awesome wilderness skills! While I had camped and hiked quite a bit as a kid I learned a ton of outdoors and survival skills that I did not have before. I had never done any orienteering before, and I really enjoyed learning how to use topographic maps and navigate in the wild.”

What were the coolest skills you learned from CI that you have showed your friends and family?

“Hands down the thing I’m most proud of was making a fire with a bow-drill and no matches! Once you do that, you become the go-to fire starter on any occasion.”

How has your CI experience helped you create positive change in your community?

“As a teacher in an under-resourced school in the front range of Colorado I have made it an important mission of mine to get kids from my community out into the mountains and wilderness. My experience with CI definitely helped me see the importance of wilderness education. Many of my students have lived on the front range their whole lives but have never had the chance to experience the mountains they live so close to! Along with other teachers at my school we have done dozens of weekend hiking trips with our students. We also have done ski-trips for the past four years by partnering with the Chris Anthony Youth Initiative. The experiences are crucial to help students in under-resourced communities experience everything Colorado has to offer.”

Based on your CI experience, what advice would you give to other students?

“Find your connection to the outdoors. Mine is road and mountain biking. In a world that has no shortage of technology distractions, find an activity you like, and take the time to get away from it all in the wilderness.”

Well said Peter.  We love seeing our alumni out in the world making a difference, nurturing their love of the natural world, and sharing it with others. Keep on livin’ the dream Peter!

Written by: Peter Zola, CI Alumni & Taryn Longberry, CI Program Manager


Categories: Alumni Spotlight, CI Shoutouts, Community Adventure Program, Featured, How to Change the World, New Vista High School

Back to Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.