Blog Archives

Suck the Straws out of the Upper Ark Valley!

By: Mary Beth Flemming

February 3 was international straw free day! Restaurants all around the country are pledging to get rid of plastic straws.

Have you heard about the largest floating island of garbage to date, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, resting off the coast of California? According to the Inland Ocean Coalition, 80% of the garbage in these islands originates inland. The Coalition, a project of the Ocean Foundation, has estimated the garbage island’s current size to be larger than the landmass of the United States. The amount of plastic floating in this garbage patch outnumbers sea life 6 to 1. One of the largest inland plastic contributors to the garbage island is a plastic product designed for single use, the straw.

What does the buildup of plastics in our oceans mean for those of us living here in Chaffee County?

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Fall 2017 School Youth Ecological Literacy Programming

What an exciting fall for GARNA’s Youth Ecological Literacy Program! We doubled our number of field trips this fall, meaning we reached twice the amount of students with curiosity inducing and learning packed days of environmental education in outdoor classrooms. We are so thankful to our land agency partners such as the US Forest Service, BLM and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, program partners Get Outdoors Leadville!, the Alpine Achievers Initiative, Society of American Foresters, and Trout Unlimited and awesome GARNA volunteers for helping us produce meaningful learning for so many students.

The goal of GARNA’s Youth Ecological Literacy Program, YELP, is to foster environmental stewardship and encourage young people to explore careers within the natural resources field. Through our school-based programs, we tailor lessons for each grade level, both to bolster students’ academic knowledge through hands-on experiences and to raise the next generation of youth to appreciate the uniqueness of our environment and be better stewards of our public lands.

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Fall 2017 Youth Ecological Literacy Longfellow Elementary 3rd grade Fieldtrip

Life Zones along Monarch Pass– Thursday, September 14

GARNA’s Youth Ecological Literacy Program (YELP) goals are to foster environmental stewardship and to encourage young people to explore careers within the field of natural resources. The program provides science-based, experiential activities and education through school field trips, career exploration, enrichment programs, and summer camps. The goal of the school-based programs is to tailor lessons for each grade level, both to bolster students’ academic knowledge through hands on experiences and to raise the next generation of youth with a better understanding of stewardship and what makes their environment so unique.

What kinds of trees still thrive with a short 3 month growing season in the subalpine? What kinds of animals can handle the winds and changing weather of the alpine? How have the extreme factors involving wind, water, and glaciers shape the geology of the mountains?

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2017 Summer Nature Camp

camp smilesSummer is a wonderful time for exploration around Chaffee County; it’s a great time to use our imaginations, build forts, look a grasshopper in the eyes under a magnifying glass, hike to alpine ponds, find pet worms, feed trout, get muddy, and eat cattails. Nature Camp this summer offered these opportunities and many more over 6 weeks through our two camps: Nature’s Scientists (ages 8 to 11) and Nature’s Explorers (ages 5 to 7).

We had a great summer learning about different life zones such as wetlands at Mount Ouray State Wildlife Area, the meadows at Hutchinson Ranch, the subalpine at Monarch Mountain and riparian and river habitats at Poncha Creek picnic hike

It’s a wonderful experience for campers to spend an entire day outdoors. While exploring, playing games, and participating in hands on activities, campers grow in knowledge, but also grow in independence,

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2017 Stream Explorers in Salida

The underwater habitat of the Arkansas River is a fascinating, diverse ecosystem with unending avenues for exploration. A group of 5th through 8th graders did just that this May through a GARNA and Trout Unlimited Program called Stream Explorers. The students met for 4 weeks, performing a variety of experiments and relating their inferences to what they observed in the Arkansas. “This is a scientific inquiry-based program,” says Tom Palka, a volunteer teacher with Trout Unlimited. “We guide the students to ask the questions and then to design the experiments they should conduct to answer them. In other programs, experiments are often conducted in a ‘do this experiment this way and tell me the answer’ but we encourage curiosity and imagination and let the students drive the process.” The goal of this program is that students will ask and answer questions they have about the river ecosystem and in the end,

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