The Nature Connection works closely with incredible partners to bring outdoor learning and experiences to students throughout Delta County and Olathe K-12 Schools.
Over the course of the school year students in Delta County and Olathe will experience:
- Visiting their local State Park
- Learning about winter ecology and wildlife
- Exploring local canyons
- Riparian work on the Gunnison River
- The vital waterways that shape our landscape
- Seeing dinosaur tracks in person
- Learning the human history of Escalante Canyon
- Visiting the Grand Mesa National Forest
- Cross-country skiing
- How to prepare yourself for winter
- Learning about snow science and snowpack
- An introduction to avalanche safety
- Learning water safety
- Paddleboarding and kayaking
- Rafting for a day down the Gunnison River
- An overnight raft trip
- How to ‘Leave No Trace’
- Tying flies for fishing
- Handling native fish
- A cabin showing early American settlement in the Escalante Canyon
- How wildlife biologists study animals
School Based Programs
Nature Knowledge Days
Nature Knowledge Days introduces students to our public lands through fun exploration of the natural world and human interactions with it. This half-day event targets third grade history and science standards and is held in the spring at the Escalante boat ramp in Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and is hosted by Colorado Canyons Association and partnering organizations.
Skis for Kids
Skis for Kids provides youth with a cross-country skiing experience on their public land. TNC partners with the United States Forest Service to provide youth with an Every Kid in a Park pass as well as Junior Snow Ranger booklets. Winter wildlife and their adaptations are introduced as well as how to ‘dress like an onion’ while preparing for a day outdoors in the wintertime. At almost 11,000 feet on top of the Grand Mesa, youth learn to fall and get back up again on xc skis — in return they ‘grow their grit’.
National Public Lands Day
Every Kid in a Park at Lost Lake celebrates National Public Lands Day with the USFS and partners such as WSCC, TNC, IAWC. Students build bird boxes, hang with Smokey, learn about geology, wilderness and how to use a compass.
Conservation Days is an outdoor experience for all 4th graders with our partner Western Slope Conservation Center and others at the Paonia River Park.
Explore Your Park
Explore Your Park involves a visit to either Sweitzer Lake State Park or Crawford State Park. Students get to experience canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, archery and fishing.
Cottonwood Days is a day-long event for 6th graders across the western slope to learn about the vital waterways that shape our landscape. Students learn to tie flies, handle native fish, collect invertebrates, and much more in this seriously fun event targeting art, history, and science standards.
Winter Ecology Days
Winter Ecology Days is a day-long event cross-country skiing on the Grand Mesa National Forest. Lessons are taught by professionals from Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the United States Forest Service. The day is relative to science standards with hands-on watershed and snow studies, avalanche basics, along with winter ecology topics. Following a pre-trip classroom discussion, students are provided with a second opportunity to learn and ski in the winter as a school-based program through TNC.
Escalante Field Experience
Escalante Field Experience is an all-day exploration of the human history of Escalante Canyon and the natural environment. From seeing dinosaur tracks to learning how wildlife biologists study animals, students will understand the deep natural history of Escalante Canyon. Students will also visit pioneer structures along the Gunnison River and up the canyon to the Captain Smith Cabin for a glimpse into early American settlement in the area. This educational experience is targeted at 7th grade history and science standards.
Solar Energy International provides a hands-on outdoor solar lab experience targeting topics on energy conservation & human impact on the environment. Students will become excited to learn how to capture the energy of the sun!
Youth Outdoor Network
Students in all five grant area High Schools are provided with the opportunity to learn about careers in the outdoors. The students participate in stewardship projects with partners such as the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, Colorado Canyons Association and Western Slope Conservation Center.
Students are able to explore the Gunnison Gorge, Escalante Canyon and Ruby Horsethief Canyon on single day or multi day raft trips. These trips happen in the spring and fall and are available for all students participating in their High School’s Youth Outdoor Network.
Cross-country ski day
Our five high schools join together for a winter adventure on their national forest. Students are challenged to ski in different terrain on groomed nordic tracks. They also build their knowledge on avalanche safety from a professional, test the snowpack and understand how interconnected they are to the local landscape.