Community Ag Alliance: Connecting with nature | SteamboatToday.com

Community Ag Alliance: Connecting with nature

Kellie Gorman/For Steamboat Today

With winter upon us, it's tempting to hunker down inside where it's cozy and warm. But did you know people of all ages experience enhanced health and creativity when they connect with nature?

Getting people outdoors and into nature is at the core of Yampatika's mission. Our winter programs offer a wide range of activities for individuals, families and groups to get outside and learn more about the beautiful Yampa Valley and our high-country plants, animals, geology and climate. All Yampatika's tours are led by experienced naturalists who love to share their knowledge of local ecology.

Free weekly programs

Thanks to partnerships with public land agencies, the ski area and thoughtful donors, our regularly scheduled tours are free or low-cost. Come ski with a naturalist and learn about snow science, as well as the ecology of Mount Werner and the Yampa Valley. You'll experience the mountain in a whole new way. Snowshoe up to the Uranium Mine site and enjoy breathtaking views of frozen Fish Creek Falls. Or, spend an unforgettable evening snowshoeing by the light of the full moon, exploring the natural beauty and history of Emerald Mountain.

Private tours

If you're looking for a special tour catered to your personal interests or want a fun outing for visiting family and friends of all ages, come discover the world of winter with an affordable private tour. Our trained naturalists are creative, knowledgeable and enthusiastic and will work with you to plan a custom program that suits your needs. We offer cross-country skiing or snowshoeing tours for all ability levels at a variety of trails close to town or up on Rabbit Ears Pass. If birds are your passion, we'd love to take you on a bird-watching adventure, even in winter.

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To learn more and register for our public and private tours, visit yampatika.org or call 970-871-5191.

Volunteer for Yampatika

None of our winter programs would be possible without the help of our volunteers. These dedicated nature-lovers support Yampatika naturalists leading education programs and are vital to keeping the tour group together and assisting participants as needed.

Volunteers work anywhere from one tour per month to one tour per week. We're also recruiting volunteers to help with the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, the nation's longest-running citizen science bird project. Join us Dec. 19 to ski or snowshoe with a local birder.

Want to get involved? Yampatika's winter volunteer training and refresher is coming up Dec. 4. Naturalist Karen Vail is leading a winter ecology snowshoe tour in the morning. Over lunch, we'll have a short presentation on preventing cold-weather injuries. Then, we'll ski with a naturalist on Mount Werner in the afternoon, followed by a social event at the base area. New and seasoned Yampatika volunteers are welcome to join for any or all of the activities throughout the day.

Call us, or visit Yampatika's website to learn more about winter volunteer opportunities and how to sign up for the training.

Kellie Gorman, program director for Yampatika, has more than a dozen years of experience in the field of outdoor and environmental education and a passion for the natural world that reaches well beyond that timeframe.