Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area was awarded $87,000 through the Open Outdoors for Kids grant, a program of the National Parks Foundation. The grant money will fund the Learning in Our Watershed program that helps youth understand and value the Cache la Poudre River and their water heritage while inspiring a next generation of river stewards.
Implementation of this funding will triple the size of the program and allow the Cache NHA to expand the program in response to teacher requests to add more pre-approved sites, include new field trip events, and adding programming that includes inclusive storytelling. Last year LIOW had just under 4,000 participants. This year there is expected to be over 10,000 student participants.
The LIOW program focuses on bringing students, primarily Title One 4th graders, in Northern Colorado and beyond into the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area. The goal is to immerse students in their local heritage, cultures and landscapes through the adaptable three-touch model which includes pre-visit activities, onsite field trips and post-visit wrap-ups. There are in-person, hybrid and distance learning opportunities available through this program. For in-person, the teachers can elect to attend any of the following sites: Poudre Learning Center, CSU’s Environmental Learning Center, Centennial Village, Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, or Colorado Youth Outdoors. Events include Expedition Colorado, the Children’s Water Festival, and the High Plain History Festival. For the hybrid audience, many of the in-person sites provide in-classroom activities or virtual tours. The distance learning option allows students to explore the interactive map of the river corridor or engage with virtual tours from various sites.
Comments from teachers and students surveyed last year showcase the positive impact of this program. 98% of teachers surveyed reported that the LIOW program helped to develop understanding of the Cache NHA as a resource for student activities and learning.
“The hands-on, active nature of the learning opportunities presented information in a way that reached all learners,” said Jan Nimlo, a 4th-Grade teacher. “This was a great day of learning for my students.”
“Amazing!” said one 4th grader after completing the field trip. “I want to do this again.”
Teachers can apply to the LIOW program to receive funding for field trips within the river corridor. The LIOW application is now open. Apply now on the Cache NHA website at Programs: Learning in Our Watershed. Please share with teachers to help promote this program statewide.
About Cache NHA
The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area, (managed by the Poudre Heritage Alliance a regional non-profit) works to PROMOTE a variety of historical and cultural opportunities, ENGAGE people in the river corridor and INSPIRE learning, preservation, and stewardship through collaborative partnerships and providing funding to community benefiting projects within the heritage area. The 45-miles of the Cache la Poudre River, designated by Congress in 2009 as a National Heritage Area, is only one of three heritage areas in Colorado and one of sixty-two in the nation. To find out more about the Cache NHA visit www.poudreheritage.org.