When the Conservation Districts of the San Luis Valley began a conservation education position over 20 years ago, little did they realize that their commitment to conservation land use practices would grow into a movement! The Rio Grande Watershed Conservation & Education Initiative has grown from a conservation poster contest and a handful of school visits and community outreach events to over 10,000 student visits a year, a variety of field trips for students and community members, a kids' conservation camp, grazing and farming workshops, serving as an education voice on many boards, committees and educational programs and a Project Wet, Project Learning Tree, and Food, Land and People and local curriculum provider.
This change is due to partnership building, program planning and community buy in. Throughout all these changes, the mission has remained the same - to provide quality informative education about conservation and the use of natural resources to San Luis Valley farmers, ranchers, land owners, community members and students.
The 21st century has brought an increased desire for community members to understand and support sustainability through the actions of sound resource management. We are also seeing that kids aren't as connected to the natural landscape as in years past. The increase in screen time and technology in general coupled with a lack of transportation around the Valley means most youth don't even know what's outside their door. RGWCEI's partnership with local Valley agencies and farmers and ranchers means that we're all dedicated to providing that education and awareness to our children. With such dedication, there's a real chance that our next generations will be passionate, educated, and eager to be part of their environment.
Because of the amazing hard work of those who have come before me, and knowing that we are all needed to set the stage for success in managing our finite resources, I believe our future is bright and ready to meet the challenges ahead!
Rio Grande Watershed Conservation and Education Initiative
Education and Program Specialist
Kids at conservation camp observe an expert fly fisherman create lures.