We recently had an opportunity to catch up with a former Cottonwood Institute (CI) student, Belen Colin, and wanted to find out what she is up to and how she was impacted by her CI experience.
What are you up to these days?
I currently work as an academic coach for an online school in Colorado. I try to keep students engaged and motivated so they can get their high school diploma. I’ve been with the same school for 2 years, but I am going back to school to get a degree in Environmental Engineering.
What CI program(s) did you take?
I took the Horse Caretaker Project in 2008
What do you remember most about your Cottonwood Institute (CI) experience?
I remember all the skills I was taught. I do a lot of activities in the outdoors such as rafting, hiking, backpacking, back country skiing, so I try to practice scenarios in my head when I’m out there with the knowledge I gained from my course with CI. What I remember more fondly though is the people and the instructors. They were nice, encouraging and hilarious. It was easy to want to be immersed into the learning because they made everything interesting and funny.
What were the coolest skills you learned from CI that you have showed your friends and family?
Luckily, I haven’t had to use any survival skills in a real life situation, but the “coolest” skill I learned was the figure 4 trap that can turn small critters into food. A skill I have had to use many times and can wow my friends with is map reading. CI helped me understand the concept better both in theory and practice and it’s something not everyone knows how to do.
How has your CI experience helped you create positive change in your community?
My experience with CI helped me feel more comfortable and at ease in the outdoors because it gave me the knowledge of what to do if I need to survive. That gave me more confidence to try other outdoor trips with more rigorous challenges. I have since become a stronger leader in my community and I’ve helped organize outdoor learning workshops in my neighborhood.
Based on your CI experience, what advice would you give to other students?
Always have a plan B. Sometimes we make plans and we dedicate all our energy into a single plan and when things go wrong, like they tend to do, we freeze up and stress out because we don’t have a plan B. When you hope for the best, but expect the worse you can prepare yourself both physically and mentally for when a situation goes awry.
Are you a Cottonwood Institute alumnus? We’d love to hear from you! What are you up to? Email Us!