The Greenway Leadership Corps (GLC) and SPREE's summer High School River Rangers got to explore a new river this past weekend. We drove south from Denver to Buena Vista, where we spend two days rafting along the Arkansas River!
For many students, this was their first time rafting. We also had a few returning students from last year's trip! The first day we rafted down some calmer water, getting used to paddling, seeing the importance of working as a team, and learning the various rafting commands. The second day, we rafted through Brown's Canyon, which is a National Monument. This spectacular setting led us to some Class II and Class III rapids, including Zoom Flume and Widow Maker. The whole way, we had the amazing cityWild staff guiding us, teaching us the proper techniques, and navigating through those crazy rapids!
This was a two-day trip, and we spent the night camping in Buena Vista at Turtle Rock. Before and after making dinner, we all went exploring around the spectacular rock features, with all of us making it to the top of Turtle Rock for some spectacular views!
Thank you so much to cityWild for helping make this trip a reality yet again. I know it's one of the trips we all look forward to the most every year!
Our first week of 2018 summer camps was a blast! Over June 4-8, both of our camp locations had the theme: Special Agent Training! Our focus was on being becoming special agents of the environment and the community.
Monday was the introduction to being a special agent. We learned and developed many skills including, teamwork, observation, and becoming an expert in your surrounding environment.
On Tuesday we went more in depth in learning about the waterways and water systems in Denver. We had some very special guests to give us a demonstration- Denver's storm drain cleaners! They have the very important job of making sure the storm drains stay clean and safe so that the city doesn't flood!
On Wednesday we focused more in on some special agent skills! We analyzed our fingerprints, investigated animal tracks, made nature disguises, and made pompom launchers!
Next, on Thursday, we learned about some more of Denver's own local special agents- Park Rangers! And, we worked on becoming experts in the park spaces around camp as well. We went on nature hikes, learned how to pick up trash safely (and how to help prevent it from getting into the park and river), and even made trash/doggie bag dispensers!
Friday was field day and graduation day! We explored a new nearby park, went on a scavenger hunt, did a relay race, played games, and much more!
We wrapped up our week with a graduation ceremony celebrating all the new things we learned and discovered this week.
The Greenway Foundation (TGF) was thrilled to take part in Southwest Denver’s Safe Summer Kickoff event at Garfield Lake Park on June 2nd. TGF participated in the event as a part of the MY Outdoor Colorado coalition, which received funding from Great Outdoors Colorado to provide additional outdoor programming and park improvements for residents of the Westwood neighborhood.
Staff from TGF’s SPREE program spent the day helping kids build bird houses and bug boxes, teaching them about Denver’s urban beavers, and sharing information on TGF programs with families. TGF’s Executive Director, Jeff Shoemaker, also spoke at the event along with Mayor Hancock and the Deputy Manager of Denver Parks and Recreation. It was a beautiful day and a great time was had by all!
Over this past semester, The Greenway Foundation piloted an internship with Denver School of Innovation and Sustainable Design (DSISD). Over the course of the semester, our two interns learned about the principles of environmental education, shadowed and team-taught on our first grade excursions, completed stewardship projects, participated in the Greenway Leadership Corps, worked with a variety of local government and nonprofit organizations, and so much more! The internship is now coming to a close as the school year wraps up, so we wanted to know what Lily and Rosie thought of their time as TGF interns. Below, we hear directly from these two high school juniors about their favorite experiences over the semester, how they have changed, and what surprised them!
Thank you to everyone who came to the rescheduled ECI Spring RiverSweep presented by The Nature Conservancy and The DaVita Village on Comcast Cares Day! Over 300 volunteers came out to help get our parks ready for spring by mulching around trees, prepping flower beds, picking up trash and plant debris, and getting Centennial Gardens ready for summer visitors!
The Greenway River Ranger program is designed for high school students to develop their leadership and communication skills, as well as knowledge of the environment and environmental education. These students are selected from two different high schools- KIPP Denver Collegiate and KIPP Northeast Denver Leadership Academy (KNDLA). They help with instructing on four different 5th grade trips over the course of the school year.
Their final day of teaching was Monday, April 30. The Rangers began the day with a professional development workshop led by SPREE staff discussing the differences between education and advocacy. At each of the morning excursion activities, the Rangers took turns team teaching and then teaching a group of students all by themselves. They taught about the adaptations of beavers, how to test the health of the river, ways that different pollutants affect our river, and how to paddle in a raft.
In the afternoon, Rangers facilitated and participated in the critter crawl, doing a great job of managing students, engaging their curiosity, and being enthusiastic when students caught crawdads and other aquatic macro-invertebrates!
To hear more about our River Ranger program, click here!
Students from three universities; Metropolitan State University of Denver, University of Colorado Denver, and Colorado School of Mines, were invited to participate in the second iteration of the Clean River Design Challenge (CRDC). Student teams were tasked with the challenge of creating an in-stream trash removal device to be placed in the Cherry Creek with minimal impact to the surrounding area. At the end of the 2017 fall semester, after months of research and design, eight teams presented their concepts and designs to an interdisciplinary panel. Top teams were announced, but all teams were invited to participate in the 2018 spring semester. In the second half of the competition teams would be given $1,000 from The Water Connection to build a scaled model to test their concepts and designs. Six teams presented their models in a specialized flume at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and were judged by the same interdisciplinary panel. The top three teams were selected and are pictured below!
April 23 - 29 is National Environmental Education Week, celebrating the many ways that people are engaging with their environment. The SPREE Team has been out along the River all week teaching Denver students about their local environment - and having lots of fun doing it!
Environmental Education (EE) has many benefits beyond gaining a greater understanding of and connection with the natural world. Research has shown that students participating in EE see improvement in their science, math, social studies and language arts performance, as well as their standardized test scores. Time spent outdoors in green spaces has also been linked to multiple physical and mental health benefits.
If you'd like participate in EE with your class or family, check out the Generation Wild list of simple things you can do in a schoolyard, city park, or your own back yard. You can also check out the many field trips, day camps and free family events that SPREE offers along the South Platte River!