This fall Colorado Canyons Association and the Bureau of Land Management turned the Gunnison Gorge, Dominguez-Escalante and McInnis Canyons National Conservation Areas into hands-on, outdoor classrooms for over 875 students across Delta, Mesa, and Montrose Counties.
Cottonwood Days in the Gunnison Gorge:
This September, 500 6th grade students from Delta County joined CCA in the Gunnison Gorge for Cottonwood Days. As they rotated between interactive stations, students learned from professional wildlife biologists and BLM Staff about the unique cultural and natural resources located in the Gorge. Trip highlights included identifying live fish with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, throwing a spear with the traditional atayal, and tying flies with the Gunnison Gorge Anglers.
Youth Outdoor Network in Dominguez-Escalante:
In the second week of September, high school students from Delta County’s Nature Connection Youth Outdoor Network (YON) joined CCA for an overnight canoe trip on the Gunnison River through the Dominguez-Escalante NCA. Students worked together to learn the necessary paddling skills to navigate the river, and in the process grew both their communication and teamwork skills. After camping at Little Dominguez, students explored the canyon while learning about ranching and rock art left by the long history of humans who inhabited the beautiful canyon.
Colorado Mesa University in McInnis Canyons:
In the final week of September, over 40 Environmental Science students from Colorado Mesa University surveyed the riparian areas in Devil’s Canyon within the McInnis Cayons NCA. Data gathered by CMU students will help the BLM monitor the health of the area's numerous popular trails. CCA is continuing to grow our partnership with CMU by providing sites within the NCAs for senior level Capstone projects focusing on ecological restoration.
Nature Knowledge Days in Dominguez-Escalante:
This October, we launched our Nature Knowledge Days for 3rd students in Delta County. Over the course of the week, we brought over 215 third grade students, representing four different schools from within school district 50J in Delta County, out into the Dominguez-Escalante NCA. Again, students rotated between eight different stations where they explored a specific topic before receiving a stamp in their personal copy of our newly created activity book.
Hilltop Youth River Trip in Dominguez-Escalante:
Later in October, CCA took 15 students from the Residential Youth Services Program (RYS) of Hilltop on a Gunnison River rafting trip through the Dominguez-Escalante NCA. RYS houses students who have, for the most part, been recently released by the Department of Youth Corrections. For many of the students it was their first time off of the Hilltop Campus in over a year and for all of them it was their first day out in nature. For RYS students, a day on the river is an immeasurable reward for their commitment to their schoolwork and self improvement. One student said the river trip "was the best day they've had all year." CCA is excited about our new work with Hilltop. Together we can bring the therapeutic qualities of nature to the kids that need it most.
Dual Immersion Academy in McInnis Canyons:
In late October, CCA taught 46 4th grade students from the Dual Immersion Academy about the paleontological resources found in the Fruita Paleo Area within the McInnis Canyons NCA. Students were able to explore BLM collections housed at the Dinosaur Journeys Museum before heading out into the NCA for a hike alongside BLM Geologists to learn about our prehistoric environment.
Our staff relies on the support of volunteers to help implement our robust youth education programming. If you're interested in helping out as a volunteer, click here and sign-up today!