Basalt High School Students Visit Rock Bottom Ranch

ACES Staff

April 11, 2014

Basalt High School Students Visit Rock Bottom Ranch

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”    ~Mary Oliver

Forty-seven Basalt High School 9th graders visited Rock Bottom Ranch last week as a kick-off to the schools Project Citizen program. Project Citizen is a civic engagement program that utilizes cooperative-learning activities to promote competent and responsible participation in local issues and government at all levels.

In advance of the site visit ACES educators visited the high school classroom to introduce the concept of citizenship and to inspire students to begin thinking about their passions, values and the local issues that are important to them. The students were excited to come to Rock Bottom Ranch to learn first-hand how ACES is working towards solutions to a variety of local issues. 

Arriving at the ranch, students were introduced to the three focuses of Rock Bottom Ranch: environmental education, sustainable agriculture and wild lands restoration. Students then had the opportunity to rotate through three projects each related to one of these focuses.

For the first project, students joined ACES Educators to learn about environmental education while studying the water quality of the Roaring Fork River at RBR. The group then discussed the impacts of ranching on both water quality and quantity.

For the second project, former ACES Executive Director, Tom Cardamone shared his wealth of knowledge while students explored an example of wild lands management and restoration.  Walking a transect from the Roaring Fork River through an uncleared, unflooded forest and a cleared forest where floods have been mimicked to encourage cottonwood growth, students were able to observe similarities and differences. In addition, students helped to dig a ditch for irrigation, create a seedbed for cottonwood seeds that will fall in late June and plant cottonwood cuttings in new locations.

Finally, the RBR agriculture team gave students a broad picture of sustainable agriculture. Focusing on the products and services provided by the sheep, goats, chickens, and rabbits at the ranch, the agriculture team was able to explain the multi-species rotational grazing system used at RBR. In addition, the 9th graders learned about the climate battery greenhouse and helped to build raised beds, which will soon by filled with delicious varieties of kale, chard and other vegetables. Stay tuned for more updates on RBR animal and vegetable products available at local farmers markets this summer!

Overall, this visit to Rock Bottom Ranch was meant to get students outside, working hands-on to learn about and address local issues. At the end of the day, students were given an opportunity to reflect on how they might combine their own passions and values to address a local issue that is important to them. We are so excited to see what this motivated group of young people will do with this “one wild and precious life!”

~ Chris Cohen, RBR Programs Coordinator

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