While trying to get in touch with past Cottonwood Institute students, I got a very enthusiastic response from Coral Hackler. Coral took the Community Adventure Program at New Vista High School in 2004. She was very excited to be able to contribute to the Cottonwood Institute in any way she could. Here is what she had to say:
Q: What are you up to these days?
A: I am currently a senior majoring in Psychology and Gender Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. I am still and avid camper and backpacker. I love the outdoors, which is a big reason that I moved to Durango for college. Another big factor in my relocation down here is the environmentally conscious community that thrives around me. The Community Adventure Program gave me confidence in my skills as an outdoorswoman that still resonates today.
Q: What is your favorite Cottonwood Institute memory or story from your courses?
A: I think the best was shoveling snow at Saint Mary’s Glacier to build a snow Quinzhee. The lazy people who didn’t want to shovel sat shivering in the snow, while the people shoveling were throwing off layers of clothing because they were creating so much body heat. That night we slept in the shelter and stayed super warm. I even had to unzip my bag because I was sweating so much.
Q: What environmental issue are you most passionate about and what are you doing to address it?
A: There are so many environmental issues and they are all extremely important. I particularly believe that most of these stem from our belief that profit and greed is important to successful living, and that this must happen by plundering all our natural resources without regard to environmental or human consequences. I have been getting really into food politics and learning about the industrialization and the corporation of our food system. I am very worried about the amount of oil that it takes to sustain our food supply. I have been focusing on helping the Durango food economy strengthen. I am working with my school to bring local foods into the cafeterias. I have been trying to grow my own food and preserve food for the winter. Earlier this year someone called the FLC Environmental Center and reported an abandoned peach orchard. We worked hard to pick and collect peaches. We then made as many cans of peach jelly, peach cobbler, and peach salsa that we could and gave away the peaches to every hungry mouth we could find. I also participated in our local Homegrown Festival that taught Durangoans what to do with all the neighborhood apple and other fruit trees.