The Green Team is a core program of Groundwork Denver, which focuses on nurturing young environmentalists and providing employment and professional development to low-income students in their teens and early twenties. If you've ever hiked a Colorado trail in the past 30 years, there's a good chance Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) had a hand in its construction or maintenance. Since the organization's inception in 1984, VOC has engaged more than 105,000 volunteers in hundreds of projects in some of Colorado's most beloved and iconic locations. VOC projects offer volunteers the opportunity to learn useful skills and dedicate a hard day's work to building new trails, restoring land damaged by floods and fires, and maintaining heavily worn-out trails that urgently need some TLC.
The benefits of youthful bodies are manifold. Youth gain practical experience in conservation projects, participate in their communities and serve the public through significant improvements to public lands and recreational infrastructure. The Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) raises funds and advocates for the nine Colorado corps groups, allowing youth and young adults to help maintain forest health, improve critical habitat for wildlife, and learn crucial life skills. With a growing population and rising energy demand, the American West faces serious environmental challenges in the 21st century.
Western Resource Advocatesseeks to provide clean energy, preserve rivers and conserve the iconic Western landscape through law, science and economics.
The organization has spearheaded projects that include drafting a plan for a carbon reduction credit program and collaborating with whitewater boaters in Glenwood Springs to maintain water in the Colorado River. With a quarter of a million visitors a year, Colorado's 54 peaks over 14,000 feet high are among the state's most popular hikes. This means that there are many trails that lead to the peaks through the fragile Alpine tundra that are in urgent need of restoration. The Colorado Initiative for the Fourteen (CFI) collaborates with the United States Forest Service, the Office of Land Management, local volunteer organizations, and individual donors to protect the fourteen children and keep them accessible through public administration and education. Thanks to a Food Matters grant from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Certifiably Green Denver developed a program to reduce food waste in restaurants.
During the summer, participants go on seven-day backpacking trips through wilderness areas near Denver or eight-day canoe trips through Minnesota's border waters. Thanks to a Food Matters grant from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Certifiably Green Denver developed a program designed to reduce food waste in restaurants. Every year, 5,000 children from underserved urban communities in Denver, Adams and Arapahoe counties participate in after-school programs through Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK). The organization also runs a youth program in natural resources, which involves young people exploring career options and getting summer internships and jobs in outdoor activities. They could pursue careers in public and environmental health and encourage other communities to do the same. Whether they choose land conservation, energy, water conservation, health care, or construction, they experience personal development while working on meaningful service initiatives for their communities.
BCM engages marginalized youth in Denver (and its satellite offices across the country), who gain leadership skills and self-efficacy on their trips at a one-to-one ratio, from teens to adults. There are MANY non-profit organizations in Denver working to improve people's access to and relationships with the outdoors.