Sustainability Council’s ReTree program heads to the classroom | SteamboatToday.com

Sustainability Council’s ReTree program heads to the classroom

ReTree volunteers in 2014 plant saplings along the Yampa River Core Trail. The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council is working to create a high school curriculum that builds off successful volunteer tree planting events the group has organized since 2011.

— Students at Steamboat Springs High School will be the first to pilot a new environmental literacy curriculum created by the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

YVSC plans to turn its successful ReTree tree planting program into a classroom and field-based curriculum, thanks to funding from a mini-grant program facilitated by Yampatika and the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education.

“We’re very excited about this opportunity,” said Sarah Jones, YVSC executive director. “We’ve been doing ReTree now for [nearly] six years, and it’s very engaging for students, so this is kind of the next step in formalizing that student engagement.”

The $3,575 grant received by YVSC was one of six awarded by the groups using $20,000 in funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to support the Colorado Environmental Education Plan, which aims to promote and advance environmental literacy initiatives across Colorado.

Because of Routt County’s already strong environmental literacy programs, the other five grants were awarded to groups outside the area.

The ReTree pilot program aims to engage 50 students at Steamboat Springs High School beginning Sept. 1, Jones said.

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Students will collect data on the health and survival rates of trees planted through the existing ReTree program over the last several years, as well as plan for upcoming ReTree plantings.

High school science teacher Cindy Gay and business teacher Kipp Rillos will work with YVSC on the project, which will incorporate biology, through the study of the trees, and business, through studying the costs associated with planning a ReTree event. It will also involve calculating the number of participants and how to build interest.

“This will be a pilot scale, and we’re trying to develop a model that can be replicated in other schools,” Jones said.

YVSC was required to provide matching funds for the grant and will work with a total curriculum budget of about $7,500.

In addition to YVSC’s ReTree curriculum, five other regional organizations were awarded funding by the mini-grant program.

Other grants include a fourth grade renewable energy program in Avon, the strengthening of an environmental citizenship day camp in Aspen, the creation of an educational comic about landfills in Pitkin County and two grants to enhance the efforts of teachers — a series of professional development workshops in Aspen and an energy-related in-service training for teachers in Grand Junction.

More about the Colorado Environmental Education Plan can be found at http://www.caee.org/colorado-environmental-education-plan.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow