Job Opening: High School Camp Intern – Stream Ecology



 JOB TITLE:  Camp Intern for Stream Explorers Program @ Rockies Rock Summer Camp in Leadville, CO

CLASSIFICATION:  Contract, 9 hours/day, 7:15 am to 4:15 pm (transportation to Leadville Camp locations will provided from central location in Buena Vista, Salida, or Leadville)


2 weeks, 36 hours each = $720 total paid at end


July 30 – Aug. 2 and Aug. 5 – Aug 9

 FUNCTION OR PURPOSE OF THIS POSITION:  GARNA seeks 2 high school sophomores, juniors, or seniors to serve as Camp Interns for Stream Explorers.  Camp Interns will encourage younger youth (Grades 4 – 7) who are participating in camp in investigating stream ecology utilizing the scientific method, fly tying and fishing.

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS OF INTERNSHIP:  Responsibilities and duties will include, but are not limited to, the following:  Help create a safe, positive, inclusive, and enthusiastic camp environment.   Be respectful of participants’ needs, interacting and engaging with each camper.  Help participants first, but also engage in daily camp activities oneself.   Help with set up and take down of activities.  Participate in reflections with staff at the end of each day.

Potential applications should be a high school sophomore, junior, or senior who is safety minded, flexible, responsible, and enthusiastic.   Youth interns do not need to have exceptional skills in the outdoors/fly fishing but should be interested in ecology and enjoy working with younger students.

 ABOUT GARNA: The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association, GARNA, is a 501C3 non-profit organization, an EOE employer.  GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of resources in the greater Arkansas Valley through education, volunteerism, and experiences.  For more information, please visit

TRAVEL:  Transportation to camp locations will be provided from a central meeting location in Salida, Buena Vista, or Leadville.

CAREER TRACK:  This position is grant funded for the summer through the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and New Belgium Brewing.  Interns will be given an opportunity to apply to work with future field trips or internships.  GARNA and Trout Unlimited will also be happy to share further information about jobs with partners such as: Colorado Parks and Wildlife, US Forest Service, BLM, and supply recommendation letters to accompany a resume.

To Apply:  Please complete the application by Monday, July 16.

APPLICATION LINK –> Stream Explorers Intern Application Read more ›

Envision hosts wildfire-prevention panel discussion May 8

Organizers encourage public participation


As smoke billowed across the lower reaches of the Collegiate Peaks southwest of Buena Vista on Easter Sunday, neighbors’ cell phones beeped with evacuation notices and firefighters closed off rural roads to the site. The blaze grew to nearly 28 acres before firefighters wrangled it under control by late afternoon.


It was a small fire that was contained quickly, and also a reminder that wildfire can happen at almost any time in Chaffee County, Salida District Ranger Jim Pitts said.


“The normal isn’t so normal,” he said. “We’re definitely behind on our winter moisture.” He noted that local snowpack was 66 percent of average as of mid-April.


With the threat of wildfire on many people’s minds, Envision Chaffee County is encouraging all community members to come and engage in a panel discussion from 6:30-8 p.m., Tuesday, May 8 at Poncha Springs Town Hall.


The emphasis is a strong group effort between public agencies, private property owners and the community.


Pitts said the session is “an opportunity to have a common dialogue around current conditions and the facts about the current weather we’re facing.” He added that public participation is extremely important in order to share values and concerns, and to set action plans moving forward.


After more than a century of fire suppression, Chaffee County’s forests are not in a natural state, he explained. Overly dense stands of trees and widespread insect infestations create the threat of large wildfires in the community. 


In contrast to a wildfire such as the Easter Sunday fire, some wildfires can burn so hot that they kill thousands of trees and “bake” the soil, destroying seeds and making it difficult for the forest to regenerate. 


Wildfires can also cause floods and debris flows, he continued. These torrents of mud, rocks and tree limbs impact creeks, rivers and water supplies and bring sediment down into reservoirs, which can reduce water storage capacity and water quality. 


Multiple area agencies and local citizens are working to increase forest treatments to help prevent the risk of a large wildfire in Chaffee County. Treatments involve controlled burns and tree thinning on federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service, and on state lands by the Colorado State Forest Service.


The effort also emphasizes actions that private landowners can take to reduce fire danger, and it strongly encourages their involvement – not only to help prevent wildfires, but to increase the overall health of forests.


Working collaboratively through the Envision process, local agencies and the community have set a goal to double treatments on both public and private lands.  Cooperating agencies aim to treat 40,000 acres in Chaffee County by 2030, or about 1 percent of treatable land per year. The close collaboration between agencies and the community is an approach that is unique to Chaffee County, and the combined effort helps create forest vigor well into the future.


“Envision plays an important role to assist in sharing information and public input to land managers throughout the County, this unique opportunity is crucial for learning and sharing” Pitts said. 


The panel will include Colorado State Forest Service Southwest Area Manager Damon Lange, County Commissioner Greg Felt, U.S. Forest Service Fire Management Officer Chris Naccarato and Pitts.




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? Environmental organizations such as Earth Share have calculated that Americans use nearly 500 million straws every day, that’s enough to encircle the earth 2.5 times! Kids love them and many adults prefer them, but what is the impact of such convenience? All that waste has to go somewhere.

Is it possible for the Upper Arkansas Valley to help mitigate this problem?

Straws are a petroleum-based product that never truly biodegrade or go away; they are one of the top ten items picked up at clean-up events, because they are easily lost at disposal centers and light enough to blow around.  This is problematic for both wildlife and people. Marine wildlife think that straws are food and ingest the plastic, and humans then consume plastic filled fish. The Costa Rican Sea Turtle Association posted a viral video of a sea turtle that got a straw stuck up its nose.

Straw campaigns across the globe are sculpting the way for decreased consumption of plastic straws and even the complete banishment of their use both for inland and ocean communities.  According to EarthShare, Seattle became the first major city in the United States to ban plastic straw use completely in September of 2017. Places like Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom already ban straws, as do all concession areas at the Smithsonian Institution Museums. Manhattan Beach outside of Los Angeles bans straws and all other disposable plastics. A June, 2017 article in The Washington Post notes that as of summer, 2017, the Plastic Pollution Coalition estimates “1,800 restaurants, organizations, institutions and schools worldwide have gotten rid of plastic straws or implemented a serve-straws-upon-request policy.”

Thousands of people are joining the movement, even youth. Nine-year-old Molly Steer started the Straw No More project, with the goal of eliminating plastic straw use in local schools in Cairns, Australia. Her efforts inspired schools in South Korea, New Zealand, England and America to take the pledge. In her Tedx Talk on October 6, 2017, she described successfully encouraging 10,000 kids who have agreed to stop using plastic straws in their drinks at school.

There are few opposing arguments to eliminating straws but they include: restaurant cups are dirty, drinks are too cold, and people with certain disabilities may require the use of straws. The good news is that many manufacturing companies have stepped up with products such as glass straw and paper straws. The Mixing Bowl, in Salida, sells stainless steel straws. An organization called claims to be tackling the global plastic problem, “one bamboo straw at a time” by appointing one hundred percent of their bamboo straw sale proceeds to the education and outreach about the impacts of single-use plastic.

So what do you think Upper Arkansas Valley? Should we Suck the Straws Out? Although we are somewhat removed from the world’s oceans, the Arkansas River is a watershed that flows to the ocean. We are just as responsible for what flows into our waters as communities residing near the ocean. Will we join the worldwide straw-free movement? Our local choices effect others globally, and the choice to reduce single-use plastic consumption starts with the individual.

Example of a “No Straws” poster in a window in Boulder, CO.

Throughout March and April, GARNA will be partnering with the Sellars Project Space Partnership for Community Action (PfCA) to show the film Straws on the following dates:

Monday, March 19 beginning at 6:30 pm at the Salida SteamPlant Theater – FREE and open to all

For teens only! Thursday, March 22, 6:00 to 9:00 pm at Season’s Cafe in Salida; youth-driven straws reduction campaign – thanks to Chaffee County Youth Alliance for their support of this initiative!

What do you think about straws?

Do you think the Upper Arkansas Valley should be concerned about straw usage?

Please comment below.

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.

Forestry Field Work – Lake County Intermediate School (Leadville) 7th and 8th Grade Fieldtrip – August 29

This is our first year partnering with Lake County Intermediate School through the Get Outdoors Colorado’s (GOCO) new initiative, Get Outdoors Leadville! (GOL!). We worked with 7th and 8th grade science teacher, Molly Hokkanen, to plan a day of Forestry Skills and hands on learning at Twin Lakes.

During this field day, students rotated through the following stations:

  • Hydrology: Glaciation, Reservoirs and Forestry
  • Wildlife: Predator/Prey relationships in the forest
  • Tag: Forestry Resources, Endemic Species and Fire
  • Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration: Tree cookies are so delicious
  • Field Techniques: Clinometers, increment borers and DBH, oh my!

Special thanks to Jeni Windorski, Wildlife Biologist, USFS Leadville Ranger District; Liz Hahnenberger, Forestry Technician, Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Office; Alex Rudney, Silviculturist, San Isabel National Forest; Lisa Corvin, Timber Program Lead, San Isabel National Forest; Molly Pitts, Natural Resource Consultant and Society of American Foresters; and Maddie Interdonato and Alex Winch, Alpine Achievers Initiative.

Birds of a Flock – Lake County Intermediate School (Leadville) 3rd Grade Cornerstone Trip – September 6

Students learn about bird adaptations by trying to pick up food with different beak styles. Led by Dominique Naccarato, GARNA staff.

This field trip is another a new GARNA youth program as part of the Get Outdoors Leadville! initiative. Students met at Turquoise Lake to learn all about birds and how the 3rd grade class can become a stronger flock to start off the school year. This day fostering teambuilding while focusing on the special characteristics of birds through stations such as “Bird Beak Buffet” – a look at the adaptations of birds and their beaks, “I Stand Out” – admiring the colors and unique characteristics light has on feathers through the book, The Sky Painter, by Luis Fuertes, and “Leaving the Nest” – learning about birds’ eggs and nests and how birds grow up just like we do.

Big thanks to Emily Latta, Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Field Office; Alihah Trujillo, Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Office; Alex Winch and Kellie Hill, Alpine Achievers Initiative; Becca Katz, program coordinator for Get Outdoors Leadville! for making this a great day of learning and growing new friendships.

Walk together on teams skis is a great way to grow as a flock! Third graders learned team building skills with Alex Winch of Alpine Achievers Initiative.

We would also like to thank the third grade teaching team: Celesta Cairns, Beth Baker Basler, Andi Weigel, Allie Clark, Alan Johnson, Stephanie Gallegos, principal, and all the parent chaperones for assisting with the day!

See this great article about the day from the Leadville Herald Democrat.

Life Zones on Monarch Pass – Longfellow Elementary (Salida) 3rd grade – September 14

Read about this program here.

Arkansas Watershed – Salida Middle School 6th Grade Fall Field Trip – September 21

6th grade students geocache at Mount Ouray State Wildlife Area, using their latitude and longitude coordinates to find hidden eco-trivia questions.

The Salida 6th graders gathered for their 8th annual fall field trip to Mount Ouray State Wildlife Area. The field trip theme was learning about the Arkansas River watershed with stations focused on erosion and the rock cycle, riparian ecology including collecting aquatic invertebrates, fishing and GPS navigation.

A huge thank you to Sean Shepherd, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, District Wildlife Manager; Matthew Coen, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, SWA Manager; Kim Woodruff, District Wildlife Manager, Colorado Parks & Wildlife; Alex Winch and Matt Hill, Alpine Achievers Initiative; Keith Krebs and Eric Heltzel, Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited; and Scarlett Massine, GARNA volunteer.

Learning to use a GPS as a part of their 6th grade field trip is an orienteering skill students improve upon from learning to use compasses in the 3rd grade.

We would also like to thank the 6th grade teaching team: George Mossman, Jean Dyer, Cory Scheffel and Michael Williams.

Public Lands Exploration – Avery Parsons Elementary (Buena Vista) 4th Grade – September 29

Bob Hickey, AHRA Volunteer Naturalist, teaches students what fossils in the area look like and how they were formed.

This is the second year GARNA has hosted the 4th grade class from Buena Vista for a field trip to Ruby Mountain Campground and Browns Canyon National Monument. With the new formation of the Browns Canyon National Monument, this was a special day for students to hike into the monument and see for themselves what makes it a unique place. In addition to the hike, students learned and explored at the following stations: Geology: Fossils and Pre-history of Our Watershed, Watershed Ecology and Orienteering: A Compass Scavenger Hunt.

Avery Parsons 4th graders learn about the Arkansas water shed by building their own erosion models.

Special thanks to Bob Hickey, Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Volunteer Naturalist; Janet Blessington, GARNA volunteer; Jeanne Younghaus, Friends of Fourmile, GARNA Volunteer; Linda Skinner and Xavier Balerdi, Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Field Office; Cari Caudill and Alex Winch, Alpine Achievers Initiative.

We would like to thank the 4th grade teaching team: Dave Bott, Heidi Atha, and Heather Griggs. Also, thank you to Bob Meeker for filling in as a group leader and all the other parent chaperones who supported this great day of learning in the outdoors.

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.

Anthony Davila, US Forest Service, leads a geology hike on the Monarch Crest Trail.

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? What makes riparian areas such an important corridor for wildlife?  Longfellow Elementary 3rd graders explored the rich diversity of the varying life zones along Monarch Pass answering these questions and more.

Observing and comparing the foothills, montane, riparian, subalpine, and alpine life zones by making stops in Maysville and hiking along the Monarch Crest Trail, Salida School District 3rd graders had a great day learning from many local experts. Students completed 4 stations covering the topics of geology, plant biology, terrestrial biology, and orienteering. These stations were led by GARNA staff, Alpine Achievers Initiative AmeriCorps Members, partners from the US Forest Service, and GARNA volunteers. As a part of their pre-trip lesson, students learned both how compasses work and about compass navigation and had the opportunity to put those skills to use through an orienteering scavenger hunt. For many, hiking along the Monarch Crest Trail and seeing the grand views of the continental divide were a highlight. The extensive outdoor classroom along Monarch Pass made for a great day of learning!

Alex and Matt with Alpine Achievers Initiative explain the compass scavenger hunt.

Bat, find your insect!

We would like to thank all our volunteers for teaching and making the day a great success: Anthony Davila, US Forest Service; Claire Mechtly, GARNA volunteer; Alex Winch and Matt White, Alpine Achievers Initiative; John McCarthy, GARNA Board member, and Janet Blessington, GARNA volunteer. We would also like to thank the parent chaperones and Longfellow 3rd Grade Teachers: Morgan Love, Mark Tameler, Jaime Giorno, and Carol McIlvaine.