My name is Verenice and I am Environmental Learning for Kids’ (ELK) Urban Ranger Program Assistant. I was able to attend the 11-day High School Leadership Corps backpacking trip with Rocky Mountain Conservancy as an ELK staff to support our high school student who had never been backpacking before, or even to Rocky Mountain National Park. There were a total of five high school students from Denver, Estes Park, Golden, Longmont, and Hawaii.
Throughout the program, we met with different National Park Service staff and the Estes Park Fire Crew to learn more about what their day-to-day jobs consist of.
They were all very passionate about their jobs and love being outdoors. Some days were very labor intensive, such as the day we worked on the side of a mountain making 8x10 feet piles of logs by carrying logs and tree branches up and down the mountain. We ended up making fifteen of these piles! Though it was hard and dangerous work, we can’t sugar coat it. It’s an intense job that must be done to keep our forests healthy and to minimize forest fire damage. The high schoolers were able to lift logs and ask crew members about their college education. A more laid-back day was when we met up with Ranger Maria of the National Park Service and picked up some litter from the parking lot and meadow at Rocky Mountain Hidden Valley. Some of the high schoolers spotted some sweet wild strawberries. We also attended a 2-hour resume workshop by a National Park Service member.
On our downtime in the afternoons, we played UNO, frisbee, walked around the campsite, ate snacks, drew, or made a campfire and looked at the stars while our crew leader, Nathan, played his guitar and sang.
All the necessary equipment we needed, or might have needed, was provided such as tents, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, rain jackets, rain pants, two sets of uniforms, hats, two Nalgene water bottles, and backpacking backpacks. I would encourage high school students who don’t mind getting a few mosquito bites and enjoy the outdoors to apply! This is certainly an experience they will always remember.
Verenice Galvan(ella/she/hers) is 20 years old; born and raised in Denver, CO. She likes the outdoors in rain, snow, or sunshine. She love flowers and would like to study botany and horticulture in college (peonies and elephant’s head are very cute). She has been a student in ELK since 2016 and started working for ELK in 2020. She doesn’t feel that she’s very good at striking up conversations, but ask her any questions about ELK and she’ll gladly answer them!
About Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK): Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) is a Denver-based, nonprofit organization established in 1996 to address the growing need to introduce and educate Colorado’s racially diverse youth about science, leadership, and careers. Twenty-five years later, ELK continues to provide strong educational support, good role models, and opportunities for positive community action for youth, helping them to become engaged, productive, and successful members of society. Learn more at elkkkids.org.