Youths in Swan Center Outreach’s sustainability with horses program learn about ranch management, conservation practices and how to take care of horses and other animals.
“Our ranch is a model of a sustainable ecosystem, so kids learn the true meaning of sustainability,” said John Longhill, the Silverthorne nonprofit’s director. “They learn if you manage the land properly it will continue to give back to you in productive ways.”
The program also teaches leadership skills throughout the process, he said.
“With animals you can’t convince them you are a leader, you have to actually be a leader so they trust you and know you are going to take care of them,” Longhill said.
The experiences and skills children take away from the program will last a lifetime, he said. Part of the reason the nonprofit is able to host the program is the funding it has received from Copper Mountain.
The ski area’s Environmental Foundation provides money for sustainable projects geared toward youths ages 5 to 18 in Summit and Lake counties.
“I first heard about it two or three years ago,” Longhill said. “It’s been a wonderful match and a huge help for us and our programs.”
Copper’s Environmental Foundation also has funded programs that provide educational opportunities for youths at the High Country Conservation Center, the Girl Scouts of America, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District and environmental education programs in Leadville schools.
The foundation was started in 2007 by Copper employees, with the long-term goal of supporting environmental initiatives in their community.
The 2013-14 grant cycle is now open. Eligible recipients include private and nonprofit organizations, government agencies and individuals. Proposed projects should have an aspect of environmental education or environmental action, or both, resulting in a positive impact on the environment, said Austyn Williams, Copper Mountain’s communications manager. Projects that have the potential to be replicated or continued in future years are also strongly encouraged.
“We are hoping that we fund projects with staying power to ensure change in our local community,” she said.
Grant funds are raised solely by donations from Copper Mountain employees and are distributed in Summit County and the surrounding areas.
“Employees are excited to help out in the communities (where) they live, and also teach their children a better way to live,” Williams said.
Many ski area’s have corporate environmental programs, but Copper’s is one of a kind because the projects take place in the ski area’s backyard.
“Programs like Copper’s Environmental Foundation are very unique. Most programs are much larger and sometimes miss the area that really counts — our local community,” she said.
Longhill said he appreciated the generosity of Copper’s employees.
“It’s nice to have that connection with the employees. It’s a big family of people who want to do positive things in the community.”
Grant applications must be submitted by Monday, Dec. 31, to be considered for this year’s grant cycle. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Steve Miller, president of the Copper Environmental Foundation, email@example.com, to discuss potential projects before submitting an application.
“After contacting Steve, applicants will understand the staying power we are looking for,” Williams said, and can get feedback to make sure their projects are within the scope of the grants.