Reflections on a Childhood with Environmental Education
February 24, 2014
As a 23-year-old who has recently moved back to my hometown, I reflect upon the impact environmental education has had on my development. Having the opportunity to be born and raised in the Roaring Fork Valley is an experience I can never take for granted. In particular, I am grateful for the experiences I had growing up with ACES Ed.
Over the last 30 years, ACES has developed a strong relationship with area schools and established an environmental education program that is truly unique. The immersion style ecology curriculum implemented by the organization is built upon three distinct philosophies. The first is having ecological literacy, to acquire an intimate knowledge of the place one lives in. The second is to foster caring for one’s habitat through their experience in nature. The third combines this knowledge and care into meaningful action.
I can distinctly remember the many times I interacted with ACES’ programs, spanning from my early years in kindergarten to those in high school. These include learning about the diverse ecosystems at Hallam Lake, studying the complex watersheds of Maroon and Hunter Creek, snowshoeing in Castle Creek Valley, and laying down bales of straw and clay amongst recycled car tires to construct the Environmental Education building at Aspen Elementary School in 1997.
It is programs like ACES Ed that make our valley a special place to grow up in. Today, I attribute my ecological stewardship to the investment ACES makes in regional students. Former classmates and I still reminisce about these impactful classes, and how it instilled environmental responsibility in us.
In the United States, environmental education is rare within the public school system. Therefore we must continue to support ACES: as a model for others, in its ability to expand its offerings for our regional community, and in its continued efforts to inspire a life-long commitment to the earth. No matter where a student grows up, their decisions about environmental stewardship affect us all.
Photos Above: Snowmass Lake, Four Pass Loop, Castle/Conundrum by Nicky Byrne
~ Nicky Byrne, ACES Ed alum
Click here to learn more about ACES Ed programming.