A Lesson on Snow at the EC Winter Retreat 2013

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

-Robert Frost

Snow muffles the sounds in the La Plata Canyon. Last weekend for the winter retreat, a group of us from the Environmental Center hiked to “The Naked Lady Hut” for activities and some delicious food. Though the food was delectable and the leadership workshops enlightening, it is not the stay in the cabin that struck me most about this Saturday. A simple comment Rachel made offhand in one of her “snow spiels” grabbed my attention and got me thinking.

Imagine the spring, when three days of nonstop snowing will mean snowmelt high in the mountains and a full river of runoff. Imagine the month of May when the river will feed into the fields of crops and the farmers will be happy. Imagine late summer when the lack of early snow will create less water for the rivers, making farmers not so happy. I cannot speak for all farmers but I know for certain that some people are not aware of the sources of their water beyond their faucets. If we do not have the knowledge that our own water comes from runoff from the mountains, we may not care about fighting for the conservation of the mountains.

This lack of knowledge of the connectedness of aspects of the environment leads to something else of which I have become acutely aware. I always assumed that everyone knew how plants grow from seed to sprout to fruit to table but my eyes were opened this year through the Campus Sustainability Team’s project: The Real Food Challenge. The Real Food Challenge strives to collaborate with college cafeterias to use 20% “real” food by 2020. Through a survey, our team saw that most students wanted more local, healthy food involved on campus and decided to embrace this challenge. In the case of the Real Food Challenge, real food is classified as local, environmentally sound, humane and fairly traded; or any combination of the four. Along with attempting to bring this to the FLC campus, we will also work to educate the campus about what “real” food is and where our current food comes from versus real food. Education will be a large piece of this project in addition to promoting local food. This project is long term, and will not be easy but by tackling this issue, hopefully we can reconnect the circle of understanding food and its source.

Just as farmers need the mountains and snowfall for their crops and we need the runoff for our watersheds, the understanding of the connections between our resources and us is necessary. If we can teach others about where food comes from or at least encourage them to conscious of it, it may lead to the awareness of other resources. Starting with the food our school consumes is one step towards reconnecting our species with its life source.

-Hallie Wright

cooking vegetables for burritos

EC zero waste team member Jessica Smyke cooks vegetables for burritos. All EC students that attended the retreat enjoyed cooking and eating the delicious food. Photo courtesy of Rachel Landis.group of Fort Lewis College Environmental Center students       EC staff members learn about leadership while looking out at the beautiful snowy mountains in the Naked Lady Hut in the La Plata Canyon. Photo Courtesy of Rachel Landis.









Staff Retreat, Fall 2012

Staff Retreat, Fall 2012

The Environmental Center (EC) at Fort Lewis Community College (FLC) was excited to start of this academic year by joining hands to create a exciting day at The Old Fort in Hesperus, Colorado.  Together the team was greeted by Katrina to pick fresh organic produce out-of-the-garden.  More specifically the EC staff and volunteers picked a good sized harvest of beets, potatoes, carrots and squash. However, this amazingly fun filled day did not stop there. We shared a terrific lunch followed by team building exercises which enhanced the knowledge of each team member’s strengths and interests. A staff meeting was held in the old school house shortly after. Led by director of the EC Rachel Landis, the talks furthered the identified individual primary interests and defined the core values of the team, moving towards the advancement of creating focused EC goals. We are pleased to announce that several teams within the EC have been formed as a result of the team orientation meeting. These teams include the Zero-Waste, Campus Sustainability, Media and Communications and Local Food teams respectively. The close of the day brought forth a charged discussion about the EC’s chances at winning back the Homecoming Float competition in this year’s FLC theme of Skyhawkalyspe. Unfortunately I can go no further into talking about the brilliant ideas that were brought to the table but let’s say we are confident it’s going to be a great float.

Moving forth, the EC would like everyone to know that we are looking forward to a brilliant year filled with sustainably and environmentally inspired tasks. With that said, we would love for any FLC students to stop by our office located in the Student Union building on campus (RM 145) to see what we are up to and if you would like to become involved in any one of our exciting goals throughout the year. Briefly, a few upcoming volunteering opportunities of this sort:

  • Harvest apples at Yellow Jackets Orchard for the Apple Days Festival happening here in Durango at Buckley Park on October, 14th. Please contact Katy at katypeinsky [at] gmail.com for more info.
  • Volunteer as hazardous waste disposal crew member and learn what is “proper disposal” at the Durango fairgrounds on October, 6th. Please contact Miles at milesMB [at] ci.durango.co.us for more info.
  • More picking of apples in the Durango community for Apple Days on October 13th. And festival volunteers needed for the actual festival on October 14th. Please contact Alex at asbrooks [at] fortlewsi.edu for more info.

If for no other reason, you should probably stop by our office to check out a super cool collection of books which you can check out from the EC! We are truly excited for all the possibilities the new school year it holds for the campus and hope you are to. Have a Happy Day!

~ Charles Clayton