Although the 2020-21 school year is shaping up to be very different from any other in Cottonwood Institute’s history, it has presented us with an opportunity to work collaboratively with other organizations and reach students in new ways. One of these new programs, which launched in September, is our Lafayette Youth Stewardship Internship. Ten high school students were recruited, interviewed, and selected by staff at Thorne Nature Experience to participate. The program provides youth with an opportunity to work on stewardship and restoration projects in Lafayette, CO, engage in enrichment activities like team building and animal tracking, and take advantage of various outdoor professional development opportunities and training.
The intern cohort has committed to working, learning, and growing each Saturday from September 19 through May 1, 2021. CI Instructor Adam Fedyski co-leads the program each week with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) Project Coordinator Jackie Curry. Additionally, the group is working regularly with Martin Ogle, Founder, Entrepreneurial Earth LLC (and contracted Education Coordinator with Lafayette Open Space), to explore how they can apply what they learn during the internship to their community and lives regardless of their career plans.
In their first three Saturdays, the group has already begun to make their mark at Waneka Lake Park in Lafayette. They planted new trees and native seeds, removed invasive plants like privet and Russian Olive trees, and trimmed back coyote willows encroaching on the paths. They also learned how to use compasses to set up a treasure hunt, played games, and began thinking about ways they can be leaders in the Lafayette community.
In the months to come, the group will meet at different spots in Lafayette to continue improving their open spaces. They will also continue building their outdoor skill set, job readiness skills, and a sense of community with one another.
Keep an eye on Cottonwood Institute’s blog for more updates throughout the school year!
Written by CI Instructor and Internship Coordinator Adam Fedyski