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Year In Review 2022

An AXL student at Long View at Cal-wood. Year in Review 2022: After another hike around the sun, it is time to reflect on what Cottonwood Institute accomplished this past 2021 – 22 school year, the challenges we faced, and our vision for the future.


Programming: It was a wildly busy school year emerging from lock downs and pandemic curveballs. Despite a global pandemic, we were still able to deliver 34 programs that served 785 participants with 18 school and program partners, a whopping 74% increase from last school year. We are so honored to have won the 2022 Colorado Alliance For Environmental Education (CAEE) Awards for Innovative Environmental Education Program of the Year for our Changemaker Program and Outstanding Environmental Educator Award thanks for the one and only Erin Angel! And let’s not forget some of the inspiring Action Projects our students put together this past year, including this project addressing water quality above and below the Marshall Mesa Fire.

Overall, I feel that this class changed my life forever, and I found a place where I could be myself. I learned so much about the outdoors, but also about myself. I loved it so much that I convinced my friends and my brother to take this class. I would highly recommend this class to any person on this planet, no matter their age.

Kira Gilliland, CAP Class & Changemaker Alum


An AXL student shows what she found in the river!Staff, Instructors, and Board: We rebuilt a strong team of staff, instructors, and board members to support our in-person programs. Check out our Staff Spotlights to learn more about our new staff and instructors. We are excited to welcome three new board members, Dr. Ben “Coop” Cooper, Andrea Schwartz-Dulaney, and Whitney Bell Haggard to our Board of Directors. Chris Franks, Juan Perez Saez, and Amy Regnier recently completed their three-year board terms and will stay involved in an informal capacity as Past Board Members.

Ecosystem of Supporters: We are blown away by the incredible ecosystem of supporters we have cultivated to help Cottonwood thrive this past year. Head to our Sponsors & Partners page and support these amazing companies and organizations that help local nonprofits like Cottonwood Institute!


Equitable Pay for Staff and Instructors: We still have some big systemic challenges to tackle and Cottonwood took steps to create a more Equitable and Transparent Pay Structure for staff and instructors.

Inflation and Cost of Living/Operations: Like everyone, Cottonwood has been hit by 9+% inflation and our programming and operating costs continue to increase. Explore how you can help below.

Vision for the Future:

Cottonwood is committed to breaking down barriers to help our students explore nature and inspire them to protect it. Over the next 3 years, Cottonwood is committed to:
A group of students at the climbing gym.

  • Establishing a permanent base camp for our programs within 1.5 – 2 hours from Denver.
  • Upgrading our gear and looking for a new storage option with plenty of storage, laundry, a dishwasher, and parking.
  • Acquiring a 14 passenger mini school bus to help transport students.

How You Can Help:

  • Share Our New Cottonwood Video Today On Social Media: https://youtu.be/fnCjwO47zwE Seriously, let’s get it out there today and break the internet y’all!
  • Save The Date: Donors, save the date for our Base Camp Bash on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023 at Space Gallery in Denver, CO.
  • Sponsor Our 2023 Events: Sponsors, contact me or Carly Winner about sponsoring our 2023 Events to help fund our programs and students.
  • Book Your 2023 Program: Program partners, contact Teagan Papke to book your 2023 program!
  • Everyone: Join Our Seedling Monthly Giving Program or increase your current monthly donation to help unlock a $25,000 match.
  • Cryptocurrency Fans: You can now donate cryptocurrency to Cottonwood Institute via The Giving Block and enjoy tax benefits in 2022.
  • Matching Gifts: Explore whether your company has a matching gift program and double your impact to Cottonwood Institute.

Keep livin’ the dream y’all,

Ford Church, Founder and Executive Director

Cottonwood Institute

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