Summit County teens invited to learn about sustainability |

Summit County teens invited to learn about sustainability

Breeana Laughlin
Summit Daily/Breeana Laughlin

Because sustainability is such an all-encompassing term, it can be difficult to understand, said Colorado Mountain College student Ashlee Elliott. She plans to break it down into fun and practical concepts teenagers can incorporate into their everyday lives through a summer sustainability program.

The CMC day-camp director is teaming up with experts in the community to teach local sixth- through eighth-graders a variety of sustainability themes.

“There can be a negative connotation with the green movement in general, and I want them to understand the depth of the issue,” Elliot said. “Sustainability is not just a fad and it’s not just product you see in the grocery store. It’s more of a way of life.”

The Colorado Mountain College Summer Sustainability Institute will take local teens outside in the Breckenridge Community Garden and explore the topics of gardening, composting, recycling, alternative energy, climate and water conservation.

“Sustainability is not just a fad and it’s not just product you see in the grocery store. It’s more of a way of life.”
— Ashlee Elliott, Colorado Mountain College student

“There are some issues that face society where using our resources wisely is fundamental,” Elliot said.

“It all starts with educating and spreading knowledge,” she said. “The more knowledgeable you are, the more proactive you can be and the more educated decisions you can make.”

High Country Conservation Center’s programs manager Cassidy Callahan said she’s excited to contribute to the curriculum.

“I’m really excited about working with this age group because they are getting to the point where they realize how much of an impact they have on the world, and I think it’s important to let them know how they can get involved,” Callahan said.

Sustainability Institute organizers developed daily hands-on experiments, projects and activities they hope will give students a deeper understanding of sustainability concepts. The goal for the institute is to be fun and hands on, and to teach young community members that incorporating earth-friendly practices into everyday lives can be the simple and practical thing to do.

“It’s a change in your habits but it doesn’t have to be that hard,” Elliot said. “It’s just a conscious decision you make to use less resources and make good choices as a consumer and partner in society.”

At the end of the week, students will create a portfolio using pictures and descriptions to express what they have learned and how it has affected them. Friends and family will be invited to join in the last day of class for presentations and a video of the week’s explorations.

“It starts with the kids and they can help teach their families when they go home,” Elliot said.

The instructor said Summit County is a good place to learn about sustainability concepts. The CMC student hoping to attract teens from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels to the summer institute.

“I think it’s important to teach the next generation about sustainability, especially in our community where this program is being offered at the college,” she said. “It can give them a heads up as to what they can expect in the future if they decide to go to school here — or other places — because CMC is such a frontrunner,” she said.

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