The Justice & Heritage Academy
"The Outdoor Program works to instill a sense of pride and stewardship to students living in the San Luis Valley, while simultaneously providing leadership training, hands-on learning experiences, and outdoor skill building."
Sponsor: Conejos Clean Water
Conejos Clean Water (CCW) strives to build public awareness and encourage advocacy and education around environmental, social, economic, and food justice issues in the Conejos Land Grant Region. Specifically, our multiethnic and multicultural Outdoor Program promotes outdoor recreation, cultivates environmental stewardship, bolsters sustainable community development, and fosters a healthy environment to improve our community’s health and wellbeing. This year, in particular, the Outdoor Program has been instrumental in supporting the needs of youth by encouraging students at the Justice Heritage Academy (JHA) to explore the natural environment through place-based learning and outdoor recreation opportunities during the school week. In light of COVID-19 and physical distancing guidelines, the program has allowed the school to remain open and provide students with invaluable social interactions and experiences in the outdoors.
About the Outdoor Program
The Outdoor Program works to instill a sense of pride and stewardship to students living in the San Luis Valley, while simultaneously providing leadership training, hands-on learning experiences, and outdoor skill building.
This year, excursions have included: cross country skiing at Elk Creek, sledding up by La Manga pass, paddle boarding at Trujillo Meadows, snowshoeing near Neff mountain, investigating the sandhill cranes in Monte Vista, touring the Antonito Recycling Center, building shelters by Elk Creek, testing river water quality, and practicing Wilderness First Responder skills. We’ve observed high levels of engagement among students that don’t normally thrive in a classroom setting, providing students with a safe space to learn about the wilderness, stay active, develop new skills, and socialize through organized recreational activities. Through our own environmental education curriculum, we’ve taught students topics that range from the ecological process behind water, snow science, bird anatomy and physiology, to the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, plant and soil science, composting, and the Principles of Leave No Trace.
Wilderness First Aid: This past week, students learned about Wilderness First Aid basics and practiced their skills in the backcountry.
Highlight: San Luis Valley Youths Get Head Start on Nature Stewardship (Public Radio)
CCW sponsored a trip to Monarch Mountain. Students, parents, and teachers went skiing, tubing, and snowboarding for the day. Colorado Connection Public Radio covered our trip - check out our article.