DENVER – Two Colorado State Parks’ programs will receive awards from the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education (CAEE) for their outstanding work in helping youngsters understand their role in the environment. The Art in Nature Program at Eldorado Canyon State Park and the Roxborough State Park Interpretive and Environmental Education Program will each receive a CAEE Government Award at the annual banquet on Friday, Feb. 4.

Each year, CAEE honors the timeless power of environmental education by recognizing organizations and individuals who are transforming educational opportunities in their communities. This year, CAEE will present awards to nine organizations and three individuals to acknowledge their outstanding work in 2010 in helping learners understand their role in the environment.

Eldorado Canyon received a CAEE government award for Excellence in Environmental Education for its Art in Nature Program, which was created and implemented by Constance Roth, the park’s summer temporary Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Interpreter. Inspired by the work of the English artist Andy Goldsworthy, Art in Nature is an outdoor, hands-on program connecting participants to nature by creating sculptures using only the natural materials easily found in Eldorado Canyon State Park. Each sculpture is photographed for an album displayed in the park’s visitor center.

Since 2009, the Art in Nature Program has been a terrific vehicle to engage youth from the juvenile justice system’s probation department. The young people start out yawning, uninterested and fidgety, but once they get outdoors, that attitude changes. As they gather the natural materials, including leaves, rocks and branches from the ground, to create a piece of art, they become engaged both physically and emotionally. They become children again, laughing and playing in nature. A sense of pride and community develops within the young people as they build their sculptures and work together.

Roxborough State Park also received a CAEE government award for Excellence in Environmental Education for its comprehensive and extensive environmental education program. Part of the park’s mission is to foster environmental stewardship by developing awareness and understanding of Roxborough’s natural and cultural resources. That mission is fulfilled, thanks to Angel Tobin, Roxborough’s volunteer and interpretive services manager, and the volunteer naturalists. The program has become an integral part of the park’s popularity. In 2009, Roxborough’s environmental education program served over 7,000 participants, including over 400 scouts and over 2,000 students.

Roxborough’s environmental education programs have evolved over the years to meet visitor needs and requests from the surrounding counties. The newest program is the Junior Naturalist program, created in response to the recent emphasis on getting families out into parks and helping them connect with the natural world. The Junior Naturalist booklet has many activities to stimulate discovery through the suggested hikes. The volunteer naturalists also facilitate that learning.

Attracting more than 12 million visitors per year, Colorado’s 42 State Parks are a vital cornerstone of Colorado’s economy and quality of life. Colorado State Parks encompass 224,447 land and water acres, offering some of the best outdoor recreation destinations in the state. Colorado State Parks is a leader in providing opportunities for outdoor recreation, protecting the state’s favorite landscapes, teaching generations about nature and partnering with communities. Colorado State Parks also manage more than 4,300 campsites, and 63 cabins and yurts.

Source: Colorado State Parks

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