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Getting addicted to the outdoors

Carolyn Pope
Carolyn Pope/Vail DailyArgie Tang sketches flowers.
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EDWARDS Ive been going on for years about Gore Range Natural Science School.I sent my son, Andrew, to one of their summer camps four years ago and hes been hooked ever since. Its a combination of learning and fun that is additive. If youre a parent, you know how incredibly cool it is when your child teaches you something you didnt already know, especially something they are excited about. Unless, of course, its how to reach a new level in their latest PlayStation game.

Since Andrew discovered the science school, I have had the opportunity to attend some of their courses, from wildflower walks and compass reading to their fascinating EdVenture programs. This past week, once again, I walked away shaking my head at how little I know, or, even worse, the misinformation I took as truth. Our commitment is to instill youth with a lifelong sense of curiosity by engaging them in hands-on experiences around the natural sciences, says Buck Elliott, the schools chairman. In so doing it is my hope that both youth and adults who are touched by these experiences will develop a healthy respect for this beautiful, mysterious and very fragile planet that we all call home, Elliott said. The possibilities are endless as we learn to be better stewards with the knowledge and desire to learn, care for and appreciate our natural environment.

The schools staff held an EdVenture class at the ranch of Bud and Betsy Knapp in Lake Creek, and it is possibly the most awesome classroom Ive experienced. The theme was Shapes and Design in Nature, and, as I followed along behind our educator, the charming Christiane, she challenged us to see how art, color and shapes are ingeniously used in nature to achieve an end. Lets see what you know (or, better said, lets see what I didnt know): What makes leaves green? We all know its chlorophyll, but why is it green? Its in the waves plants need red and blue light waves to grow. They dont, however, need the green, so the green escapes them and we see green. And what is color? Merely light reflected in different ways. Why is a sunflower or daisy shaped the way it is? For a butterfly, which must, I guess, be myopic, it provides the perfect landing strip. They cruise on in because they are attracted to the ease of landing, the shape, the color. Why are the flower colors more brilliant up here in the Vail area? We have less molecules in the air because our oxygen is thinner.

As a native Coloradan, Im surprised I didnt learn much of this information as a child growing up. Better late than never. Our children, however, have that opportunity; Gore Range Natural Science School offers programs in pretty much every Eagle County School.

Private donations are what sustain the science school, and the EdVenture Members are the schools backbone. They collectively donate over $300,000 each year to support the schools programs. The donation to become an EdVenture member is $1,000.Our EdVenture member program has blossomed into an amazing group of donors who recognize and are committed to advancing the science schools educational programming here in Eagle County, executive director Markian Feduschak said. Over, 1,500 local students participate in multi-day, outdoor science classes because of these core donors.Members are invited to participate in a series of exciting outdoor events designed specifically to appeal to the interest of the science schools most generous contributors. Highlights from previous events include edible and medicinal explorations followed by a botanical feast; First Tracks skiing & brunch at Vail; and a Crane Invitational at the Medano-Zepata Ranch in Colorado s San Luis Valley.

For more information about the Gore Range Natural Science School, contact Natalia Hanks at nataliah@gorerange.org or 827-9725, ext. 11.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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