On November 12th, Keystone Science School was scheduled to run our annual H2O Outdoors program, an exciting grant-funded program for High School students made possible through key partnerships with Denver Water, Aurora Water, and the Colorado River District. Students from around the state applied to the program and, once accepted, were invited to come to our campus free of charge to learn about the complex water issues facing Colorado and the Colorado River Basin. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for the Colorado River, 18 inches of snow derailed our plans and forced the cancelation of this program. So today we wanted to share the above video with you to illustrate the truly inspiring reason that we run this program each year and the kind of collaboration that we hope to inspire in everyone who participates.
The culminating event for the H2O Outdoors program is a classic element available for many of the academic programs we offer at Keystone Science School, a Town Hall Meeting. During this Town Hall Meeting, the Science School instructors take a step back and allow the students to propose projects/compromises/ideas to make a positive impact on the various issues that they have learned about.
It was an especially exciting year to be running the H2O Outdoors program because, as this video from the Sonoran Institute shows, actual collaborative meetings (similar to our Town Hall Meetings), have resulted in an exciting ecological victory/experiment. In the Spring of 2014, for the first time in almost 50 years, the Colorado River reached the Gulf of California.
Additionally, Colorado is in the process of drafting a State Water Plan, due on the Governors desk by December 2015. Roundtable meetings and opportunities for public input will continue to be held over the next year as the Water Plan takes shape. Collaboration, compromise, and an understanding of the complexities of water related issues will be key to creating a comprehensive and successful Water Plan.
While it’s sometimes easy to get frustrated with today’s political climate and grid-lock, seeing these real-world collaborations being carried out across the state, nation, and international borders might be a source for optimism. For me anyway, it gives affirmation that what we do at the Science School (teaching about the facts, illuminating complexities, and facilitating Town Hall Meetings with collaboration as a core tenet), has real-world application and value.
As of now it is unknown whether H2O Outdoors 2014 can be rescheduled. While I am disappointed for the missed opportunity to connect with the students who applied for the program, I am looking forward to the winter/spring teaching seasons and continuing to explore these topics with students at the Science School.