Fall Field Programs at the Maroon Bells
October 28, 2022
My fellow ACES educator, Baylar, told me that on field programs, she often lets the place speak for itself. This fall, we had no trouble doing just that at the Maroon Bells. We had the privilege of welcoming schools from throughout the Roaring Fork Valley to learn about the geology of this beautiful place and how the landscape has changed over millions of years.
On a recent program, we were joined by Colorado UpLift, a nonprofit from the Denver area focused on building life-changing relationships with urban youth. Included in their programming is a field trip to the Maroon Bells, where youth are able to experience a new place outside of their comfort zone and engage with nature.
Josh and I focused on the idea of being “native” to a place and how that can mean different things to each of us. My group had really interesting conversations about who and what are native to this place.
Are beavers native? What about aspen trees? What about us?
We talked about the history of this region and how the use of the Maroon Bells area has changed over time. The indigenous people of this valley, the Ute, were nomadic. They moved into the high country to hunt and collect food in preparation for the long winters they spent in lower, milder areas. Now, we use these mountains to ski, hike, and mountain bike. Sharing the history of this land helped us put ourselves in context of a more expansive timeline. My favorite part of the program is when we talked about beavers at the lodge and then were able to see the amazing engineering at the dam!
Being with different groups every week has taught me how to adapt quickly, cater to my audience, and really let the place speak for itself. From beaver engineering to the reproductive adaptations of aspen trees, we cover a wide array of topics at the Maroon Bells and elsewhere. I have learned how to use my voice to facilitate deeper wondering and exploration instead of detailing to our students how everything works! I think I speak for the whole education and naturalist team when I say that we are so grateful for the time we get to spend outdoors with people of all ages, sharing our passion for nature and its wonders.
As we move into winter, we are gearing up for snowshoeing programs, snow science, and lots of FUN!
-Lillian Bell, Naturalist & Educator