The Lowell Whiteman School alumnae Rayna Weiss, left, and Emily Colin will give a presentation today about the launch of the nonprofit group Pedal for Change, which aims to increase awareness of environmental issues around the globe. The free presentation at The Lowell Whiteman School theater will detail their travels to South America.

Photo by Scott Franz

The Lowell Whiteman School alumnae Rayna Weiss, left, and Emily Colin will give a presentation today about the launch of the nonprofit group Pedal for Change, which aims to increase awareness of environmental issues around the globe. The free presentation at The Lowell Whiteman School theater will detail their travels to South America.

Lowell Whiteman alumnae to share adventure

Emily Colin, Rayna Weiss to give a presentation about Pedal for Change

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Past Event

“Cycling South America for Environmental Action,” a presentation

  • Friday, September 2, 2011, 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • The Lowell Whiteman School, Strawberry Park Road, Steamboat Springs
  • Not available

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— Three days into their trip to South America, The Lowell Whiteman School alumnae Emily Colin and Rayna Weiss came across an example of economic sustainability they didn’t see very often in the Yampa Valley.

At a restaurant in La Esperie, Ecuador, the friends were surprised to find a pair of chicken feet in their soup broth.

“We learned quickly that they use every piece of their food they can down there,” Colin said. “And that’s something I learned to appreciate.”

Colin and Weiss, who graduated from Steamboat Springs’ The Lowell Whiteman School in 2003, last year started Pedal for Change, a nonprofit organization they hope will continue to grow into a tool for students to learn about the different examples of economic, social and environmental sustainability across the globe.

Last September, they disembarked on a nine-month bicycle trip through Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Peru to start their program. A middle school class in Essex Junction, Vt., followed along as Colin and Weiss wrote about the environmental issues they witnessed that ranged from various forms of sustainability to the impacts of a large dam project on the Rio Baker.

As they volunteered with earthquake relief groups in Chile and researched pros and cons of the proposed hydroelectric dam near Patagonia, Colin and Weiss maintained a blog and Skyped with the students whose classroom curriculum was largely based on the research Colin and Weiss gathered during their adventure.

They said one of the goals of the nonprofit is to eventually have students go on their own adventures in places like South America and participate in research projects that will increase their understanding of environmental and cultural issues that may not be present in their communities in the United States.

“If you live in a place like Steamboat Springs or Vermont, you often get a very limited perspective on some issues,” Weiss said. “But when you can travel and take these experiences back to students, you can give them a unique and deep learning experience.”

On Thursday, Colin and Weiss were back in Steamboat to put finishing touches on a presentation they’ll give at their former school detailing their trip and their organization. At 7:30 p.m. today, they’ll present a documentary they made during their travels and take questions from the audience.

“One of the other goals of our presentation is to explain how our experience at Whiteman changed our lives and inspired us to go on this adventure,” Weiss said.

They said they would like to share what they’ve learned with the private school’s students, many who will travel the world as part of their education.

The Lowell Whiteman School admissions director Derek Svennungsen said Thursday that Colin and Weiss were model students for the school’s global emergence program.

“What Rayna and Emily have done is an ideal example of what we’d like our students to do during their own travels,” Svennungsen said. “They’re not just raveling through places, they’re getting immersed in them. The more we can stay in touch and follow their lead, the more we’ll benefit from what they’re doing.

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