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Community Agriculture Alliance: Connection between environmental education, water

The Yampatika team has had a busy and fun time of late in teaching programs to second- and third-graders about the different land forms in the Yampa Valley through Yampatika’s Environmental Literacy Program. A vital element in understanding how land forms were created and shaped, is understanding the role that water played — and continues to play — in forming the land in the Yampa Valley. Almost 150 youth from Steamboat Springs and Hayden schools have participated in this program so far this school year.

The Environmental Literacy Program includes classroom learning about land forms in Session 1. Session 2 is outside, experiential learning that includes understanding topographical maps, learning how to use a compass and how different types of land forms were created and shaped. In the last session, students perform geology and landform skits to demonstrate how they have absorbed and adopted the learnings.

At Yampatika, water is an important topic, and one of the largest influencers on the environment and the Yampa Valley today. The impact that water has in the Yampa Valley cannot be overstated. In the short-term, how much or little rain and snow we get throughout the year has an impact on recreation in the river and on ski areas. It impacts farmers and ranchers, often the deciding factor between success and failure. The number and the intensity of wildfires is directly impacted by how dry it is. This all has a ripple effect on businesses, visitors to the Yampa Valley and our quality of life.

Yampatika has made a concerted effort to increase water education topics in all of our programs. This summer we offered regular watershed walks and incorporated water into many summer camp weeks. During the last school year, we offered more snow-science programs at Legacy Ranch than ever before. This is in addition to incorporating it in to our Environmental Learning Programs. During our adult snowshoe programs, water education is an important piece of the Yampa Valley environmental puzzle.

An important component of water education is also teaching about conservation. Without teaching our generation and future generations about the importance of water conservation and strategies for being better at it, the benefits of this great valley may not be available for future generations.

Those with a child in second, third or fifth grade are encouraged to ask them if they had a Yampatika naturalist in their classroom and what they learned about water. Yampatika adult programs start back up the week of Dec. 11. Please visit yampatika.org for more information on programs and to register.

Lastly, Colroado Gives Day is Tuesday, Dec. 4. In the Yampa Valley it’s also known as Yampa Valley Gives. It’s a great way to support local nonprofits like Yampatika because your gift goes a little bit further. Please consider supporting local environmental education programs in the Yampa Valley with a gift to Yampatika. Visit our website for a link to you make your donation.

Joe Haines is the executive director of Yampatika.


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