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Learning in our Watershed (LIOW) provides a variety of experiential educational programming along the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area for students and educators. LIOW explores water heritage and teaches about the people, places, and natural habitats of the Cache la Poudre River. The immersive program connects youth to their river in ways that inspire learning, well-being, and stewardship.   

What is Learning in Our Watershed?

Started in 2010, Learning in Our Watershed™ (LOIW) was designed with a simple mission: to help youth understand and value the Cache la Poudre River and their water heritage while inspiring a next generation of river stewards. A growing body of research points to the beneficial impacts that nature has on health, well-being, and the promotion of healing. LIOW is designed to take learning from the classroom to the great outdoors for improved well-being while developing a of a sense of connection to nature and the heritage area. Designed by educators to align with the 4th grade Colorado education standards, students experience the following lesson objectives:

· Connect students to their river corridor

· Immerse students in their local heritage, cultures, and landscapes

· Help students develop critical thinking skills including interpreting maps and signs

· Encourage students to reflect on human-environment interactions within their watershed region

Program Types

Learning in Our Watershed™ is an adaptable three-touch model with hybrid options for on-site and distance learning, designed to create pathways for kids to enjoy, understand and connect with nature in exciting ways by facilitating outdoor activity, experiential learning, and cultural heritage exercises. Teachers can self-select from a variety of activities in each of the three touch points to customize a field trip specific to their learning objectives and subject matter.

Pre-Visit activity options

Pre-visit activity options:

Field Trips- Onsite

  • Poudre Learning Center: PLC is a facility on 212-acre site along the CALA for interdisciplinary learning that focuses on the importance of history, science, economics, and stewardship of the Cache la Poudre River. Students experience hands on activities with wildlife and water. Leveraging a partnership with two school systems, students from Weld County and Thompson school districts attend for free and need LIOW support for transportation.
  • Environmental Learning Center (Hybrid Option): A K-12 School program out of Colorado State University, the ELC offers standardized programming aligned with Colorado education standards. Students can explore the Cache la Poudre River as it flows through the ELC and learn about fluvial processes that shape riparian areas; collect, observe, and describe arthropods; discover living and non-living components for survival, and explore lifecycles of organisms in our watershed, among other things.
  • Centennial Village Museum (Hybrid Option): Centennial Village Museum is a living history experience that features over 35 historical buildings, costumed interpreters, heritage farm animals, and 8-acres of beautifully landscaped grounds.
  • Fort Collins Museum of Discovery :  Along the banks of CALA, the Museum of Discovery provides hands on exhibits and programs that introduce students to early European settlers; wildlands & wildlife exhibits; food, forage, and farm which includes information on the Parshall flume, Hispanic beet farm workers, and the first peoples exhibits.
  • Windsor History Museum features historic buildings from around Windsor built between 1882 and the 1920s. Each building helps tell the story of Windsor’s beginning with the completion of the Greeley, Salt Lake and Pacific Railroad through the sugar beet boom of the early 20th century. The Train Depot includes many exhibits and hands-on activities for all ages and is a great place to start your museum experience.
  • Study Outdoors Learn Outdoors (SOLO)SOLO offers an outdoor, self-guided experience, that builds on existing community health and wellness routes. Created by two local educators, SOLO field trip routes align with Colorado academic standards, connect students to the landscape of the Cache la Poudre River, and incorporate interpretive signs and wayfinding. SOLO includes all lesson plans, route maps and instructions for four routes so teachers can take their students into the watershed without the cost of admission to a museum or learning center.
  • Colorado Youth Outdoors – CYO’s school group experience allows kids to stomp around our 220 acres while safely learning spin fishing, fly fishing, archery, or survival & compass skills. Our programming and mission are based in social-emotional learning — building healthy relationships with our families and with each other. We accept requests! We have expanded past field trips into a discussion of river health conservation, ecology and life cycles, the history of our property as it aligns with conservation practices or even a history lesson through the lens of archery. Let us know your individual class needs. Field Trip Inquiry Form.

Field Trips- Distance Learning

Post Visit Options

  • Study Outdoors Learn Outdoors (SOLO)-This program is suitable for teachers to assign as an extra activity to extend beyond the initial classroom-based field trip to the watershed or just as a fun family excursion during school breaks.
  • Poudre River Investigators Activity Guide– Created in partnership with Colorado State University, CALA, The Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed, and the Natural Science Education and Outreach Center, the Poudre River Investigators Activity Guide is a printed activity book to help students observe and discover the Cache la Poudre River. Rae, the raindrop leads the adventure as students explore animal tracks, river safety, water vocabulary, and water sources. The guide also includes homebased activities to extend learning which include making a watercraft to float down the river, making snowmen out of materials found by the river other than snow, and writing a poem or drawing a picture of what they discovered while out in the National Heritage Area.
  • My Tour activity: Interactive Map | Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area ( students can explore the interactive map on the Cache NHA website to continue exploring the heritage area.