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Dear Editor,

On behalf of the membership, students, and public lands served by the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), we’d like to thank the Support Our Salida Schools (SOSS) Board for sponsoring GARNA’s Youth Ecological Literacy Program with the Salida School District. GARNA’s youth program inspires the next generation to take care of our local natural resources by engaging students in hands-on field work and experiences that allow them to connect authentically with nature and the topics they are studying in the classroom.

Salida School District currently has three school gardens on its school sites. The new proposal would add a year-round domed structure near the High School soccer fields. Photo: Guidestone Colorado.

Students cannot care about what they do not relate to. Connecting students to their educational standards through place-based experiences help students better retain knowledge and build a better understanding of local ecosystems, forest health, wildlife, and watershed issues in the Arkansas River Valley. Through fieldwork, students engage with public lands partners, exposing students to careers in natural resources and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

GARNA boasts a strong science and stewardship model that engages students in topics such as Geology, Stream Ecology, Forestry, Fire Ecology, Soil Science, and Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, through fieldwork such as water quality sampling and collecting aquatic insects, sampling for plant biodiversity, fish dissections, orienteering with compasses and Global Positioning System (GPS) units, and wildlife monitoring.

Water bubbling in the ditch aside the Monarch Spur Trail, adjacent to Salida SteamPlant complex. Photo by Merrell Bergin

In 2019, GARNA’s youth program reached 561 Salida School District students with fieldwork, plus 204 students through enrichment programs such as summer camps and programs at Salida Boys and Girls Club.

Including public programs, GARNA served 1,027 Salida students in 2019. This continued reach in 2020 would not be possible without the support of SOSS. At GARNA, we are nature-centered and community-driven, and we appreciate the generous support and the work of SOSS on behalf of our students. Thank you!

Dominique Naccarato

GARNA Executive Director

Nature Centered. Community Driven