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This column by Cooper Mallozzi, CMC outdoor education professor, was published in the March 22 Leadville Herald Democrat. 

By Cooper Mallozzi

The Get Outdoors Leadville! (GOL!) grant-funded programming continues to offer new and exciting opportunities for youth and families in Lake County, and Colorado Mountain College has been a proud supporter of this effort from day one. This collaboration will take physical form with the inclusion of the gear library up on campus, yet it is the programming opportunities that offer the enrichment possibilities for students to apply their coursework.

The LCSD Cornerstone experiences – multi-day activities for 3rd-, 7th– and 9th-grade crews to develop teamwork, communication and leadership skills – were piloted this past fall in partnership with CMC, HMI, Outward Bound and Full Circle. For sessions at the Leadville campus, four outdoor recreation leadership graduates facilitated the programming. These instructors, who matriculated one to eight years ago, created an engaging, fun and outcomes-directed progression for each crew.

As a faculty involved in their education, I was inspired to witness how these graduates had come full circle, from learner to teacher. Each appreciated the opportunity to apply their training and to give back to the community and said that offering current students a similar opportunity would enhance the program’s learning outcomes. Graduates now sharing their wisdom and insights with their former faculty was equally impactful.

Based on this feedback, Cornerstone facilitation will become an essential component of the “capstone” class for second-year students in the program. Students will gain real insight into programming practices and earn credit simultaneously — while providing a foundational growth opportunity for our local youth.

The road to finding mutual benefit through partnership for three distinct entities (GOL!, LCSD, CMC) has been both challenging and inspiring, and the outcomes so far warrant every ounce of effort. As students become more involved in Rockies Rock, Project Dream and Adventure Days, the momentum is building. More students are finding different avenues to integrate and contribute, yet their messages of appreciation all echo that of Cornerstone facilitator Ryan Edwards: “I’m very proud and excited to be part of the CMC and Leadville communities, and look forward to the next opportunity to share my passion and skills with students in the Leadville area!”