Teachers in Durango now have an opportunity to apply for a grant to help take their students outside on science-based field trips.
Great Outdoors Colorado, a state group that invests a portion of the Colorado Lottery into outdoor programs, recently awarded Colorado Parks and Wildlife a $6,800 grant to help support more K-12 field trip opportunities in Durango and Southwest Colorado.
Catherine Brons, CPW’s Southwest Region education and volunteer coordinator, said the grant is part of a partnership between GOCO and CPW to create a funding source for one-time, innovative projects to support outdoor education.
While grants have been used in the past to fund outdoor trips for students in other parts of Colorado, this marks the first time the opportunity is offered in Durango, she said.
“We know children benefit from exposure to nature, physically and mentally, and these fields trips are an opportunity to inspire and educate future generations to act as future stewards of our resources,” she said.
Brons added that many funding pathways to support site-trip opportunities in Durango have been greatly reduced since 2018.
“With this grant money, we really want to help teachers so funding is not an obstacle,” she said.
The field-trip incentive program is open to K-12 teachers who must participate in a four-day course. Then, classes will be partnered with science-education field trips and GOCO funds will help pay for fees and transportation. The program covers expenses for one field trip in the upcoming school year.
Brons said that in Delta, for example, teachers used the money to take class trips to Crawford and Ridgway state parks for educational purposes. In Durango, classes could take trips to Mancos State Park, Durango Nature Studies, the Durango Fish Hatchery or the Powerhouse Science Center, to name a few, she said.
“Durango is such an amazing area to get kids outside and learning in place-based environments,” she said. “It’s super exciting to happen here.”
The four-day course runs from Tuesday to Friday and will include topics such as black bears, human/habitat interactions, aquatic/fish and fire ecology. Registration has already filled up.
“We hope to offer this every other summer in the future,” Brons said.