Posts in: EV260

Hello it’s Chelo — Keep Up With My Half Block Experience

Hello! My name is Chelo and I am majoring in Education Studies at Colorado College. I was provided with the opportunity to create a blog about the course titled Topics in Environmental Social Sciences: State of the Rockies: Conserving Local Landscapes taught by Tyler Cornelius. I will start off by explaining how I ended up taking this course.

Three weeks ago, I graduated from the Teaching and Research in Environmental Education (TREE) Semester program. TREE Semester is a 16-week residential program at the Catamount Center in Woodland Park, CO. Aside from teaching 5th graders and high school students Environmental Education (EE) in the outdoors, and living in a small learning community with eight other students, I also spent my time working on a professional portfolio to submit to the Colorado Association for Environmental Education (CAEE) in hopes of becoming a masters certified environmental educator. I have always had a passion for working with children and for learning science; however, before this semester I had not pursued anything related to science at CC. This fall I found myself deeply inspired by my studies and motivated to take on a career in Environmental Education. I recognized that in order to be a successful environmental educator and prepare my students to become environmentally responsible citizens in their private and public lives, I also needed to become more knowledgeable about environmental science and issues.
As I was searching for courses that would help introduce me to the Environmental Issues minor, this block caught my attention and triggered my enthusiasm. The course models experiential learning at it’s best and takes full advantage of the block plan and the geographical setting that CC has to offer.

Now, I am already three days into the class and couldn’t be more excited about the week ahead. Our classroom community (which already feels close and dialogic AND consists of two of my close friends from TREE) has spent the first few days learning about environmental history. Yesterday we went on a short field trip to Stratton Open Space, to practice our observation and deduction skills (I will explain this further in my next post!). Tomorrow I will have to take a break from moving into my off campus house, leaving my room stacked with boxes and suitcases, because at 7:30 AM we are hopping on a bus to the CC’s Baca campus located in The San Luis Valley.

I have been to Baca twice before and have had unforgettable experiences. The first time I went was with my First Year Experience (FYE) class. At the Baca campus my class was able to study philosophy in depth, bond with one another, and go on adventures. We visited the sand dunes and the hot springs. I returned to Baca my sophomore year for an education course titled Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in The San Luis Valley. For that course our class visited and volunteered at several rural schools in the area. Through interacting with the valley community, bonding with my CC peers, and forming a connection with the natural environment, Baca has become a special place for me.

For this half block we will be at Baca from Thursday morning until Saturday night. There is no service on the Baca Campus so who knows when I will be able to post about my next experience in the valley. Keep up with my blog for some stories, thoughts, and pictures. Feel free to comment or ask any questions that you might have about the course or about me. Thank you for reading my first blog post ever!

Ecological Restoration Week 1

Well, the first week of Ecological Restoration just ended! We have two professors, Marion Hourdequin, a philosophy professor from Colorado College, and David Havlick, her husband, a geography professor from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.  We’ve already read a lot of material, from ecological articles trying to pin down a technical definition of “ecological restoration” to layman interpretations of how we ought to regard the environment in terms of our humanity. Since I’m a biology major concentrating in ecology, I began this class with preconceptions, but we’ve already read several articles that have made me question science’s hegemony in the field of ecological restoration. While ecologists are often the ones who lay down the laws, ecologists aren’t the ones who are doing all the ground work. Ecological restoration only works with community involvement, and while science may have all sorts of highfalutin’ hypotheses, these community members often have their own ideas. Some sort of compromise will always be necessary.

The class only has eight students, which is a great size for discussions. The class mainly consists of discussions about the readings, but we also have presentations by various people involved with ecological restoration. On Thursday, Gary Rapp, a retired Colorado Springs city planner, came and talked to us about his work regarding Shook’s Run- a creek that runs through Colorado Springs very close to Colorado College. He has put an incredible amount of time and personal money into restoring Shook’s Run. I particularly appreciate all the work he’s done, because I bike alongside Shook’s Run to get to school every day. On Friday, we spent the morning helping Gary remove invasive species like Siberian Elm and Black Locust from Shook’s Run. We also watered the many native plants that he has planted in the area, from Golden Currants to Plains Cottonwoods and Box Elders.

On Sunday, we leave for Baca, a secluded place for classes to go in Crestone, Colorado, right by the Sangre De Cristos mountain range.  There we’ll hear from a variety of speakers.

Here are some pictures!

Shook’s Run (the park)

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And the actual creek

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Ellen (a student) and Dave Havlick (one of our professors) weeding

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Watering one of the planted trees (the black circle is a pipe that takes the water and feeds the roots of the tree).

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And Gary Rapp standing next to one of his Plains Cottonwoods

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