We are all changemakers; knowingly or unknowingly, the effects of our actions ripple out, changing the world in large and small ways each day. Every year since 2013 at the Base Camp Bash, Cottonwood Institute recognizes the ways our students make change in their schools, their communities, and the world. The Ripple Effect Award celebrates students who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their Cottonwood Institute programs, who have inspired their classmates, and whose actions will create ripples of positive change.


2022 Ripple Effect Winners

Darrius Glapion AXL AcademyDarrius Glapion Base Camp Bash Ripple Effect Award Winner 2022

An eighth-grade student at AXL Academy in Aurora, Darrius showed leadership both in the classroom and in the wilderness. Darrius was an essential component to his CAP class, whether it was providing motivation, bringing spirits up, or supporting his classmates- Darrius was always there. On our overnight trip, he led his fellow students on the hike, giving them motivation, helped others set up their tents, and led the way during our service project by making 2 extra slash and burn piles than we intended. In the classroom, Darrius supported several groups in our Action Project to bring awareness to plastic pollution through upcycled art projects. Darrius was a binder to the class and continues to be a powerful leader in the school.

Watch Darrius’s acceptance speech HERE.

Iona Kelly New Vista High School

Iona, a high school student at New Vista High School, is an extremely empathetic, compassionate, and supportive person. They have participated in CAP Class and are currently a member of our Changemakers Program. Their instructor, Chelsea, said, ” Iona was, without a doubt, the backbone of our class’s success with our Action Project. I watched as Iona went from a quiet participator to an outspoken leader capable of facilitating dialogue and making decisions. After getting us all started in the right direction, Iona went to work, putting in hours of time and effort outside of class to make beautiful handmade jewelry. They showed up before school and stayed after school to coordinate our fundraiser, bringing in over $400 for Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Sanctuary. They also organized outreach to advisories and solicited over 60 public comments to share with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Iona brought determination, enthusiasm, and thoughtfulness to our whole project and was a major catalyst for our crew. ” We are so excited to continue to see Iona flourish in the Changemakers program!

Watch Iona’s acceptance speech HERE.


2021 Ripple Effect Winners

Mackenzie Marshall and Clement Yanney Jr. AXL Academy

Mackenzie MarshallThis year, for the first time, students at AXL Academy had the opportunity to participate in CAP Class for all three trimesters. In the face of the disruptions to learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mackenzie Marshall and Clement Yanney Jr. inspired us with their dedication, enthusiasm, and leadership.

Mackenzie provided a model of positivity for her classmates, participating eagerly in Zoom lessons and applying her new skills outside of class. She displayed bravery, curiosity, and a deep compassion for animals, and we look forward to seeing how she continues to grow!

According to CAP Instructor Katie Morton, Clement’s intelligence, passion, and leadership potential were evident from the first day of class. He came to CAP already knowledgeable about many environmental topics and gladly stepped up to help teach his classmates. Clement has a clear grasp of the issues and is doing the work to solve them. We have high expectations for this young leader!

Watch Mackenzie and Clement’s video acceptance speeches and the Lauren Guthrie Legacy Scholarship presentation HERE.

2021 Outdoor Leadership Award Winner

Kevin Cano Lafayette Youth Stewardship Corps

For 2021, we introduced a new student award to celebrate students who demonstrate exceptional leadership in their programs as well as a passion to work in the outdoor field. Our inaugural winner is Kevin Cano, a member of our Lafayette Youth Stewardship Corps, who demonstrated exceptional perseverance, professionalism, and humility during the program.

As an Outdoor Leadership Award winner, Kevin will have the opportunity to join the 2021-22 Changemaker Program, participate in CI leadership development programs, and to work as an Instructor in Training on future CI programs.

Watch Kevin’s acceptance speech HERE.

2020 Ripple Effect Winners

Anayansi Barrera Martinez — Centaurus High School (CHS)

In her second consecutive semester taking CAP, Anayansi took the lead on her class’ Energybike action project. She stayed past class time to complete the project, and inspired all of our program partners with her enthusiasm, dedication and hard work. She has been a winning advocate for the CAP class at Centaurus, recruiting as many as a third of her classmates in one semester!

Watch Anayansi’s video acceptance speech HERE.

Sawyer Wilson — Centaurus High School

Sawyer first took CAP in eighth grade, and returned to the course as a high school freshman. His classmates recognize him as a positive, enthusiastic leader, particularly after the time he encouraged them to get outside for a shelter building lesson on a snowy day in the middle of winter. He is a fighter against nature deficit disorder and encourages his classmates to spend as much time outside as possible. Unsurprisingly, Sawyer has dreams of becoming a storm chaser once he graduates.

Watch Sawyer’s video acceptance speech HERE.

2019 Ripple Effect Winners

Osiel Gomez — KIPP Sunshine Peak Academy (KSPA)Osiel Gomez

Osiel and his classmates started an educational campaign to fight car idling in the pickup line at their school, and noticed a change in behavior within weeks. In his acceptance speech, Osiel said, “I have always been interested in helping my environment and saving our world for the generations to come. With Cottonwood I was able to do that. We should all continue to save our world one project at a time.”

Pedro GuerraPedro Guerra — New Vista High School (NVHS)

Pedro led his CAP class in creating a nine-minute documentary on the issue of prescribed obsolescence by storyboarding, directing, and editing the final product. An exchange student from Brazil, Pedro became the first international Ripple Effect Award winner!


2018 Ripple Effect Winners

Robert MarquezRobert Marquez — Angevine Middle School (AMS)

The CAP class at Angevine Middle School in Lafayette wowed their school and even made the local paper with their Action Project highlighting the benefits of alternative protein sources (crickets, specifically)! Robert led his classmates in putting on an unusual food tasting, featuring cricket flour brownies and vegan options for the less adventurous eaters.

Brissa Reyes-ZapataSTRIVE Prep – SunnysideBrissa Reyes-Zapata

Three-time CAP alumna Brissa Reyes-Zapata earned the Ripple Effect Award for her leadership in another Action Project involving curious comestibles. Brissa led her class in hosting a Sustainable Protein Fair at her school, complete with carnival games, grasshopper salsa, and roasted crickets!


2017 Ripple Effect Winners

Bryan EnriquezSTRIVE Prep – RISEBryan + Jasi

As a member of the first Freshman class at STRIVE Prep – RISE, Bryan and his CAP classmates had the opportunity to dream big with their Action Project. Knowing that almost all of their classmates needed to charge their devices during the school day, Bryan’s class successfully petitioned the administration to install a solar-powered charging station on campus. As an end of semester celebration, the class threw an alternative energy dance party, powered by stationary bikes!

Jasi Sikora — New Vista High School

On receiving her Ripple Effect Award, Jasi had this to say: “The more time I spend outside, the more I want to fight to protect what we, as beings, were originally given on the planet. I want my kids to be able to see tree covered mountains and forests with wildlife. If anything, I can pass on these things that I’ve learned, like importance of educating the community that I’m a part of. This class taught me so much about the value of being an educated citizen of the planet and this community.”


2016 Ripple Effect Winners

Gabe Greenberg — New Vista High SchoolGabe + Monique

As a senior at New Vista, Gabe led the charge on his CAP Class’ creation of a “Trip Tracker” to encourage his classmates to use alternative transportation. He was also an involved member of the Earth Task Force, an environmental action club at NVHS.

Monique Martinez — STRIVE Prep – Sunnyside

Monique’s CAP class worked with a local artist to create an up-cycled art project highlighting the use of renewable resources at their school! In her speech, Monique shared how much CAP helped her grow and discover a love of the outdoors.


2015 Ripple Effect Winners

Cassidy + JulietCassidy Lam and Juliet Luna — New Vista High School

CAP student and multiple-semester Earth Task Force member Cassidy Lam shared these inspiring thoughts upon accepting the Ripple Effect Award: “It is easy to sit back and let the world happen around me, instead of reaching out to change it…Getting involved with the Cottonwood Institute improved my leadership skills and sharpened my problem solving abilities. But on a larger scale, it has awakened me to the fact that each action I have has an effect…Each small project that we take on speaks to a larger issue, and when we execute them, we will not hesitate to change the world.”

Dominic HartaSTRIVE Prep – Westwood

Dominic and his Mini-CAP classmates at STRIVE used their Action Project to fight ocean plastic pollution, joining up with the Neptune Ocean Warriors coalition to campaign for a fee on plastic bags. To help reduce plastic use in their community, Dominic’s class sold reusable bags and water bottles!


2014 Ripple Effect Winners

Robert Harding

We caught up with our 2014 Ripple Effect winners five years later to see how they’ve stayed involved with environmental activism!

Robert Harding — New Vista High School

Robert spent multiple semesters working with the Earth Task Force at New Vista, organizing their annual Local Lunch and a  panel discussion on fracking. Five years later, we found him majoring in environmental studies at CSU Monterey Bay!

Estrella Damian — STRIVE Prep – ExcelEstrella

Estrella helped her STRIVE classmates launch a worm composting program at her school to tackle the issue of food waste. Five years on from CAP, she reflected, “My CI experience has shown me that there is no limit to what you can contribute to your community. Community leadership is definitely something that I am passionate about after my experience with CI.”


2013 Ripple Effect Winner

Camille Lauer — New Vista High SchoolCamille

The 2013 Ripple Effect award went to New Vista’s Camille Lauer, in recognition of her dedication to the Earth Task Force. She helped organize a “Ban the Bag” rally against plastic pollution. See a video from her award ceremony at the link above!