Colorado Mountain College students receive award for outdoor industry collaboration |

Colorado Mountain College students receive award for outdoor industry collaboration

A team of students from Colorado Mountain College’s Leadville Campus collaborate with San Luis Valley Great Outdoors on an award-winning light pollution project

A team of students from Colorado Mountain College Leadville received the Best-in-Class award from The Wright Collegiate Challenge. The team and faculty members reunited at the May 7 CMC Leadville graduation. Pictured, from left, is Kathleen Law, assistant dean of instruction; Collin Appleby, Reuben Hansen, Christian Bueng, Grady Whitson, Maggie Patch and Cooper Mallozzi, professor of outdoor recreation leadership.
Andy Colwell / Special to the Daily

A team of students from Colorado Mountain College’s Leadville campus was recently honored with an award from the Wright Collegiate Challenge. The students received the challenge’s Best-in-Class award for their 12-week light pollution project and collaboration with San Luis Valley Great Outdoors.

The Wright Collegiate Challenge is a program of Colorado nonprofit organization, The Wright. The program, now in its third year, partners together 10 teams from three Colorado colleges with businesses and nonprofits to address current-day challenges within the outdoor recreation industry.

The Colorado Mountain College team partnered with nonprofit San Luis Valley Great Outdoors to create the world’s largest dark-sky reserve in the San Luis Valley. The dark-sky movement is not only a main goal for the nonprofit, but also part of a worldwide campaign to reduce light pollution.

CMC’s team — composed of Ruben Hansen, Christian Bueng, Maggie Patch, Colin Appleby, Grady Whitson and faculty adviser Liz Walker — analyzed existing dark-sky reserves in locations from Scotland to Utah and learned to measure and mitigate types of light pollution and how that light affects others. The student’s work will contribute to San Luis Valley Great Outdoors’ efforts in garnering official dark-sky reserve designation.

“The Wright Challenge has been a unique opportunity for us as students to help provide Colorado’s outdoor industry with sustainable growth and equitable access through complex problem solving and critical thinking,” said Appleby, a team member and CMC Leadville outdoor recreation leadership student. “This experience pushed us to work as a team in order to create an innovative solution for the modern world.”

The Colorado Mountain College team competed with Colorado Mesa University’s outdoor industry studies program and Western Colorado University’s outdoor industry MBA program for The Wright Challenge’s Best in Class, People’s Choice and Most Engaged Team awards.

As part of their reward, the students received a prize package from their participating challenge partners. The Colorado Mountain College Leadville team are also now eligible for $1,000 scholarships to Western Colorado University’s outdoor MBA program.

“For these students, competing in The Wright Collegiate Challenge meant jumping into the deep end and figuring it out,” said Chuck Sullivan, The Wright’s executive director. “These students got their hands dirty and innovated. In these outdoor industry entrepreneurs, we are seeing the industry’s next generation workforce. The future looks bright.”

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