| Teagan Papke

New Vista High School CAP Class Tackles Wildfire Preparedness

New Vista High School CAP Class Ignites Action! Written by CAP Instructor Sadie Norton.

Wildfire Preparedness: Is Your Home Ready? Take the Test!

The Prelude: This quarter’s CAP Class had quite the learning journey this Spring. Throughout the quarter, we spent time connecting to nature, gaining an appreciation for the beauty in the world around us, from the smell of a Ponderosa Pine to the tracks left in a muddy substrate by a fawn in the early Spring. We wound our way through investigating environmental issues impacting our community, learning to understand the nuances of endangered species in our area, why wildfires have become so severe, and the importance of soil health for not only carbon sequestration but for building a resilient community.

With a foundation of curiosity, by the end of the quarter, we were ready to take on the challenges of an Action Project and excited to make an impact in our community!

Shark Tank for the Climate: After a series of Shark Tank-style presentations in which students took turns pitching ideas for what issue we wanted to delve into, through a democratic process, the class came to a verdict. Persuaded by a couple of rousing presentations on wildfires, the class decided to take on the issue of wildfire preparedness through the lens of Wildland Urban Interfaces (WUIs), defensible spaces, and Ignition Zones, with the target social impact being raising personal awareness through community education.

Getting Down to Business: Like a well-oiled machine, students broke into committees. Some groups worked on posters, others built informational pamphlets, others created a presentation for the school, and some developed a checklist for homeowners to assess their home resilience to wildfires. After several days of hard work, the class was ready to put our learning to the test.

The Most Remarkable Assessment: With checklists in hand, we traveled to the home of a community member to pilot our checklist and really see how the average home in suburban Boulder, CO, stands up to wildfires. Our inspection was divided into four categories: the three Ignition Zones and the Structure itself. Students poked and prodded around the house, clipboards in hand.

Upon completing the inspection, students gave the homeowner a final grade that was hard to ignore: 10.5/30 points (that’s 35%!!). However, the most remarkable takeaway from our inspection was, in fact, how unremarkable this house was. As we walked back to the bus to return to school, students realized that most of the homes we passed would have gotten the same score (if not even lower!) than the homes we inspected.

CAP students share about wildThe Finale: We integrated our findings into our project, culminating in a presentation to the school on New Vista’s Exhibition Day and handing out accompanying pamphlets to students and their families.

As a team, this New Vista CAP Class made their community a little more resilient, an ever-evolving need as our planet grapples with the challenges faced by our changing climate.

–Want to learn more about WUIs, causes of wildfires, and mitigation? Check out this Wildfire Mitigation and WUIs Pamphlet

–Want to perform your own home inspection? Check out the Full Inspection Checklist and tell us your grade!

–Looking for more ways to take action? Check out this website Wildfire Mitigation + WUIs made by students with awesome resources for personal and community action!

Categories: Action Projects, CAP, New Vista High School, Program News

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