Community Agriculture Alliance: The role of education in forestry

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One of the core missions of the Colorado State Forest Service is to promote public understanding about the role and value of Colorado’s forests and other natural resources while also engaging the younger members of our community to be active participants in their stewardship.

Here in Northwest Colorado, we are working closely with our schools, CSU Extension and other active partners to increase awareness about local forestry issues and encourage our youths to take positive action toward it.

Community Agriculture Alliance

This weekly column about agriculture issues is written by area farmers, ranchers and policymakers. It publishes on Fridays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.

In Richard Louv’s book "Last Child in the Woods," he refers to “nature deficit disorder” and suggests that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors, mostly because of increasing consumption of electronic media. By exposing our children to nature (forestry, ranching, wildlife and all aspects of our environment), our youths get inspired about the natural world in which they live, and hopefully they, too, can feel empowered to conserve and respect our environment.

Some of the many education programs available to the children and youths of our community include:

“Forester Fridays": a program that focuses on toddlers and exposes them to an array of topics through hands-on activities meant to develop their appreciation and understanding of the natural world.

Arbor Day poster contest: a program with some local fifth-grade classes to promote Arbor Day. This year’s theme is “Celebrate Trees in Our Community.”

ReTree Steamboat: a community-based forestry effort during which hundreds of volunteers come together every year to plant trees across the community. The program has evolved from quantity to quality and now includes a youth stewardship component to ensure the long-term survival of the trees.

Project Learning Tree: an award-winning, multidisciplinary environmental education program for educators and students in schools at all levels — elementary through high school.

Educational programs are not limited just to our community’s youths. Many educational opportunities also exist for homeowners and landowners alike to learn more about the role a healthy and sustainable forest has in our environment.

For more information about any of our outreach and education programs, call the Colorado State Forest Service at 970-879-0475.

Carolina Manriquez is a forester with the Colorado State Forest Service.

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