What is a mustelid? What makes this carnivorous mammal unique from other mammals? That is exactly what we sought out to solve during Wild Weasels School Break Camp.
We recently hosted our 2020 fall family stewardship day at Centennial Gardens, and saying we were inspired by our participating families is an understatement! They were so eager to clean up their city, that we could have kept going for hours!
We started our morning by picking up trash throughout Centennial Gardens, and slowly made our way outside of the Gardens along the South Platte River. It took extra sharp eyes to spot a lot of the litter along the river, as it was mostly small pieces of trash.
Although it didn’t feel like we were filling our garbage bags as quickly, we were still making a HUGE impact on our River! Smaller pieces of trash can be even more harmful to our aquatic ecosystems because they are harder to see and retrieve once in the water, and aquatic animals can mistake them for food.
But don't worry! Good thing we had smaller eyes with us to spot that smaller trash! Our SPREE families spread out and conquered the Trash Monster one piece at a time!
We ended up finishing our day with three FULL garbage bags of litter that would have eventually made its way into our South Platte River and on. To reward our SPREE families for their great work, they each left with a bag of outdoor and at-home crafts/activities, plus some extra SPREE goodies :) We want to thank everyone who attended and helped us work toward a cleaner city, and thus a happier river!
The Youth Exploring Stewardship (YES) Coalition is a group of more than 15 organizations who are located in or working along Colorado’s Front Range and who engage youth in environmental stewardship. While such a network has long existed for stewardship organizations statewide, youth organizations have been largely compartmentalized or participating in small-scale collaboration. The YES Coalition was initiated in the spring of 2017 by Wildlands Restoration Volunteers to bridge that gap with the intent of establishing best practices, determining opportunities for partnership, and maximizing our impact through collaboration.
The third annual YES Conference was slated for this October. Of course, due to the realities of the current pandemic, organization partners and our youth board had to get creative when planning this year's conference. What they created was a seamless blend of small, in-person, outside activities, and virtual workshops.
Last Friday, the 2020 summer River Rangers presented on their summer experience to our Board of Directors, and they inspired us all! TGF was honored to have these six wonderful and talented teens - Katie, Arlin, Destiny, Camila, Ivan, & Tori - taking on the uncertainty of this year with passion! Although their positions as River Rangers were different from their original expectations (pre-pandemic), the Rangers continuously brought new ideas, perspectives, and positivity to every day. Not a day went by without belly laughs and not a week without all out water game wars.
Throughout our summer together, our Ranger team worked on professional development, stewardship projects along the South Platte River, environmental education workshops, community science, and more. They even helped write SPREE camp curriculum that we can't wait for Denver kids to learn! Our SPREE educators were so impressed all summer with the heart and creativity that the River Rangers brought to the table, and TGF is stronger from it!
The SPREE Summer River Rangers recently went stand up paddle boarding at Barr Lake State Park, and to say we had a blast is an understatement! First of all, we want to thank CityWILD for lending us their stand up paddle boards and providing our rangers with such a memorable opportunity. Our Rangers expressed such gratitude for this fun summer experience.
The River Rangers quickly showed off their skills of being both pros at paddle boarding and pros at knocking the Ranger leads, Allie and Mike off their paddle boards! By accident of course ;) Throughout our day at Barr Lake, we paddled amongst the Pelicans, ate amongst the mayflies, and took advantage of the beautiful Colorado day!
Destiny is one of our awesome returning Summer River Rangers! She is a Colorado Native, born here in Denver. As a profession, she wants to be a lawyer, while working with programs similar to SPREE in the summers. Her favorite age range to teach is 8-10 years old. In her free time, she loves growing plants, mainly succulents. She loves the succulent’s beauty, how it is unique and gorgeous, but not in the way we might think of flowers. Destiny also loves pizza, especially pizza with stuffed crust from Pizza Hut. As a life goal, she wants to buy a house and remodel it so she can customize everything exactly how she wants. Destiny is very proud of the work she did with the SPREE program last summer and is excited to continue growing this summer! One of her favorite memories from last summer is when a camper told her how grateful they were to be learning about the environment through her lessons. Destiny said this made her very proud, and it was rewarding to see her hard work pay off in the mindset and awareness of her campers. Along the same lines, she hopes to continue teaching the next generation about how they can make a positive difference through their role in the environment. Destiny specifically wants to provide kids with tangible ways to make environmental changes from a young age. SPREE is so lucky to have Destiny for another summer, and we're looking forward to finding out what her favorite memory will be from this summer!
Tori is a camper -turned- Summer River Ranger! This previous SPREE camper is ready to be a SPREE camp educator! An incoming junior in high school, she was born in Boston, Massachusetts and moved to Colorado when she was just 2 years old. She is a self claimed sweet tooth, as her favorite food is chocolate cheesecake. At the top of Tori's bucket list is to go on an RV road trip to the Grand Canyon with her friends and dog. Tori LOVES legos! So much, that she has the original Harry Potter lego castle and a Voltron that can be disassembled into different lions! She also has the unique talent of double jointed fingers, allowing her to dislocate her fingers on command. A quality that Tori loves about herself is that she can talk to animals. No.. not literally, but she has never met a dog who doesn’t like her and she can make friends with any critter! Because of that, Tori is very passionate about animals and wildlife conservation. Her dream job is to work with animals in some capacity, like a zoo keeper or biologist. We are so excited to watch Tori continue to grow this summer and share her gift of connecting to animals with the rest of the SPREE team!