Multi-day environmental education programs for middle and high schools.

Two AXL students pose for a photo while building debris shelters for Capture the Flag


Cottonwood Institute collaborates with schools and youth organizations across the Colorado Front Range to provide high quality, high impact environmental education and service-learning programs. We run programs close to home or at one of our overnight sites along the Colorado Front Range.

See below to learn about the Endangered Wolves Project, Colorado Wildfire Project, Colorado Watershed Project, and Explore Outside Program.

During Cottonwood Institute programs, students:

  • Explore their community
  • Go on hikes and overnight camping trips
  • Learn about local environmental issues
  • Design and implement hands-on, student-directed Action Projects to do something positive to address those issues
  • Grow leadership and teamwork skills

Learn about our programs below. For more information or to book a program, contact Teagan Papke, Program Director, at 303.447.1076 x701 or via Email.

Horizons Zeb Mission Wolf

Endangered Wolves Project

Have you ever met a wolf face-to-face? This is your chance! Tucked away in a remote area near the Sangre de Cristo mountain range is an amazing place called Mission:Wolf, a sanctuary home to approximately 30 wolves. Click here to learn more about the Endangered Wolves Project.

Colorado Wildfire Project

We will take a deep dive into learning about wildfires in Colorado by exploring healthy and unhealthy forests; observing new and old wildfire burn areas; and completing a wildfire mitigation project. Students will practice survival skills like proper fire-building techniques and signal fires. Our group will also meet with local partners to learn about their fire mitigation practices. Click here to learn more about the Colorado Wildfire Project.

A STRIVE student catching a fish at Lake Lehow!

Colorado Watershed Project

From the summits of mountains to the bottom of canyons, water connects everything in the American West. We’ll dive deep into our Colorado watersheds and the increasingly critical role water plays in our lives. Students will explore riparian ecosystems, evaluate river heath, and complete a river-based Action Project to help support a healthy watershed. Click here to learn more about the Colorado Watershed Project.

Explore Outside Program

Our talented instructors can design a custom program in the greater Denver Metro based on the needs of your group. We’ll play games, build connections, sample our core environmental topics, and wrap up the week with a culminating field day or overnight. Click here to learn more about the Explore Outside Program.

Two students in the snow with a heart