| Dru Falco

Wildfire Project with DCS Montessori

DCS Students work on their service project

DCS Montessori embarked on the Wildfire Project with Cottonwood Institute this May to learn about the past, present, and future of wildfires in Colorado. Written by Field Instructor Tucker Knight.

DCS Montessori partnered with Cottonwood Institute for a week of wildfire education and exploration at Ben Delatour Scout Ranch, located near Red Feather Lakes northwest of Fort Collins. The week started off with rain, thunder, and lunch. The five-day trip in May in Colorado made sure students not only learned about wildfires, but also how to layer and respond to the constantly changing elements.

DCS Montessori students make slash piles for their service project.Over the week, students learned that forest fires are complex; forest fires can be both negative and positive. Students began to identify duff (organic material on forest floor), ladder fuel (vegetation that carries a fire to higher tree branches), and slurry (fire retardant). Through matchstick forest fires, students explored the difference between historical forests and modern forests, where trees can be closer together or farther apart from each other. Students also gathered natural fire starters and practiced safely starting fires of their own.

Students also learned a lot through play! Camouflage was a crowd favorite, as well as song battles around the campfire. Students saw the Red Feather Lakes area through group hikes and picturesque lunch spots. Ending the night with s’mores was a delight.

The service project was a highlight of the week. DCS Cougars displayed their incredible work ethic by showing up in full force to mitigate wildfire risks. Students threw slash (tree limbs) into high piles to be burned in the winter, and removed old, flammable fence posts from the ground. Students did most of this hard work with a smile on their face! Cheers to hard work and learning.

As the vans headed back south down the ever-clustered I-25, they were met with a wave of smoke from active forest fires in Canada. The learning does not end when the camping does, and we are feeling the effects of climate change through forest fires now more than ever. The group made one last stop at Johnson’s Corner, where students indulged in the world famous cinnamon rolls. Each serving was about the size of each 11 year-old’s face, and drowned in a lake of frosting. While leaving the peaceful woods is always hard, ending on a sweet note always helps.

DCS students pose in front of a trail sign at Ben Delatour

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