Adventure Ed lands at FLC

Adventure is now on the list of majors available to Fort Lewis College students. Last week, Fort Lewis College launched its new Adventure Education degree program. The program will be available for the Fall 2007 semester, though some classes will begin this spring.

According to Program Director of Adventure Education Bob Stremba, courses will teach students about the environment while developing problem-solving, communication and leadership skills through human-powered outdoor pursuits. A few of the courses Adventure Education students can take include: Adventure Leadership, Wilderness First Responder, Mountaineering and Winter Backcountry Travel, in addition to required auxiliary courses in science and business. Students will also be expected to participate in an Adventure Education internship before receiving their degree.

“The outdoors is a place for renewal,” Stremba said. “I’ve worked with outdoor programs and have seen how they change people.”

A student studying Adventure Ed can expect to spend up to half of their “class” time learning in the outdoors. Stremba added that the outdoor emphasis fits perfectly with the many great outdoor opportunities that Durango offers. Fort Lewis College President Brad Bartel agreed that the Adventure Ed major is not only a good fit with the college, it is a good fit with Durango.

“This is an important new degree program for Fort Lewis,” he said. “It is the kind of program that takes advantage of our unique environment in the Four Corners. I am confident that it will soon become one of our signature degree programs, giving students a great advantage in their careers.”

And unlike the outdoor ed and recreation majors of old, who often were forced to take indoor jobs after graduating, Stremba said he sees a bright future for Adventure Ed graduates. Many schools are incorporating outdoor programs into their curriculum and need staff, and programs like Outward Bound continue to grow and need qualified administration and instructors.


Immigrant integration gets local

Immigrants are getting a leg up in the Durango area. Several local organizations have secured a grant of more than $300,000 to help integrate immigrants into the local community over the next four years.

A total of $4.5 million was awarded by the Colorado Trust Foundation, a nonprofit that works to advance health and well-being of people in Colorado, to nine communities throughout the state. In Southwest Colorado, La Plata County, Telluride, Montrose and Delta counties, and the San Luis Valley all received funding. The grants will help improve relations between newcomers and their “receiving community,” which for La Plata County will include Durango, Ignacio and Bayfield. The money will be used in two phases: $10,000 will be spent on a four- to six-month planning phase and $75,000 per year for four years will go to implementing the integration plan.

The granting process is the only community-based immigrant integration effort in the nation, according to the Colorado Trust’s Senior Programs Officer Susan Downs-Karkos. She noted that this “local approach” is becoming a model for other states to use.

“Colorado is truly the leader in the country and people are paying attention,” Downs-Karkos said.

In addition to the funds from the Colorado Trust, the local La Plata Unity Coalition receiving the grant will receive a technical assistance grant. This will provide 15 headsets used for translation, facilitation by professional mediators for meetings as well as assistance with the public surveys that will be solicited beginning in 2007.


Lynx reward continues to grow

The bounty to bring the local lynx killers to justice is growing. The Denver-based Animal Assistance Foundation has pledged an additional $2,500 to help find the person or persons who recently killed two lynx in Southwest Colorado. The pledge by the Animal Assistance Foundation brings the total amount of reward money in the lynx cases to $10,000. In early November, the Colorado Division of Wildlife announced that it would pay a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case. Several other conservation organizations followed immediately with their own pledges for reward money, including: Sinapu, Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation, Center for Native Ecosystems, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Colorado Wild, Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project, and Wilderness Workshop.

“The Colorado Division of Wildlife is very appreciative of the support from these organizations in this effort,” said Patt Dorsey, wildlife manager for the DOW in Durango. “The DOW continues to investigate these cases. As always with these types of cases, we’re hoping to get some help from someone who might have some information about either of these incidents.” Two lynx were shot and killed sometime at the end of October. The first lynx was shot twice by a high-powered rifle in the Hermosa Park area about 35 miles north of Durango near the Durango Mountain Resort ski area. The second lynx was shot at close range with a shotgun on a road just north of Silverton. The DOW is continuing to reintroduce lynx into the San Juan Mountains, and about 200 lynx are believed to be alive in Colorado’s southern and central mountains thanks to the effort that began in 1999.

Anyone with information on the killings is asked to call the DOW at 247-0855 or Operation Game Thief at (877) 265-6648.

Schools commended for academics

Local schools are continuing to make the grade. Nine of 11 Durango School District 9-R schools maintained or improved their academic performance ratings in a recent state accountability report. Sunnyside Elementary School did one better, earning its first “excellent.”

Riverview maintained its “excellent” rating for the fourth year in a row, while Florida Mesa, Needham and Park maintained their “high” ratings from the previous year. Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary maintained its “average” rating in 2006 with stable growth.

Sunnyside Elementary received its first “excellent” rating since the state accountability reports were first released six years ago. Sunnyside also received the 2006 National Title I Distinguished School for Exceptional Academic Performance Award for outstanding performance on the Colorado CSAP reading and math tests. The school received a $10,000 check from the Colorado Department of Education in November for its students’ academic performance.

Escalante Middle School and Durango High School maintained their “high” performance ratings in 2006, while Excel Charter School’s middle school program maintained its average rating.

Miller Middle School’s rating changed from “excellent” in 2005 to “high” in 2006, but academic growth remained stable, indicating the change represented an insignificant drop in its overall score. Excel’s high school program also changed from “high” to “average.”

– compiled by Will Sands


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