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This press release was distributed collaboratively by Colorado Mountain College and The Wright.

CMC Leadville's Team Astraios and their faculty advisors

CMC Leadville’s Team Astraios and their faculty advisors. Photo by Andy Colwell

A team of Colorado Mountain College Leadville outdoor education and leadership students captured top honors with its Best-in-Class award for a 12-week light pollution project and collaboration with San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLVGO).

Now in its third year, The Wright Collegiate Challenge culminated with a virtual event on April 19. Ten teams from three Colorado colleges partnered with leading businesses and nonprofit organizations to address current-day challenges within the outdoor recreation industry.

CMC’s team, dubbed Team Astraios (the Greek Titan god of the stars and planets), centered on one of SLVGO’s goals – to create the world’s largest dark-sky reserve right in the San Luis Valley. The dark-sky movement is a worldwide campaign focused on reducing light pollution.

CMC’s team – composed of Ruben Hansen, Christian Bueng, Maggie Patch, Colin Appleby, Grady Whitson and faculty advisor Liz Walker – analyzed existing dark-sky reserves in locations from Scotland to Utah and learned to measure and mitigate types of light pollution and how that light affects others. The student’s work will contribute to SLVGO’s efforts in garnering official dark-sky reserve designation.

“The Wright Challenge has been a unique opportunity for us as students to help provide Colorado’s outdoor industry with sustainable growth and equitable access through complex problem solving and critical thinking,” said team member Appleby, a CMC Leadville outdoor recreation leadership student. “This experience pushed us to work as a team in order to create an innovative solution for the modern world.”

“Colorado Mountain College has a long and extensive history of educating future outdoor industry leaders,” said CMC President Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser. “Our participation in The Wright Challenge makes a direct connection between our students and industry leaders such as San Luis Valley Great Outdoors. I’m thrilled our team did so well with their dark-sky project and look forward to continued collaborations with the outdoor industry.”

In addition to CMC’s team, Colorado Mesa University’s outdoor industry studies program, and Western Colorado University’s outdoor industry MBA program competed for Best in Class, People’s Choice and Most Engaged Team awards.

The Wright Challenge students who receive awards receive prize packages from their participating challenge partners. CMC Leadville’s team members are also eligible for $1,000 scholarships to Western Colorado University’s outdoor MBA program.

“For these students, competing in The Wright Collegiate Challenge meant jumping into the deep end and figuring it out,” said Chuck Sullivan, the organization’s executive director. “These students got their hands dirty and innovated. In these outdoor industry entrepreneurs, we are seeing the industry’s next generation workforce. The future looks bright.”

“Our office is a proud partner in The Wright Collegiate Challenge,” said Nathan Fey, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office executive director. “One of our main areas of focus is advancing education and workforce development opportunities, and this challenge highlights the real work our academic partners dedicate toward shaping the skill sets of those entering into the outdoor recreation workforce.”

Colorado Mountain College offers certificates and degrees in a variety of outdoor study programs at its campuses in Leadville, Steamboat Springs, Summit County, Spring Valley at Glenwood Springs and Vail Valley at Edwards.