Environmental Learning for Kids — Education Center in Action
The new ELK Education Center had its Grand Opening on June 29th, 2022, and it has been in full swing since then. This unique center has already held at least sixty events between programs and community centered activities, and it is quickly becoming a safe space and second home for youth in the Montbello neighborhood. None of these things are done alone, though. Our ELK team and community partners such as the Montbello Public Library, Athletics & Beyond, Montbello 2020, Montbello Organizing Committee, and local schools are helping us to achieve this success and become a hub of services for all.
What our Partners think about ELK
I called on a few of our community partners to see what was the first thought they have when they hear the word “ELK.”
ELK provides “necessary family engagement,” said Ms. Pam Jiner, Founder of Montbello Walks. Ms. Pam has been involved in ELK for years and often brings her son to ELK programs.
“Children, education, and community,” said Ms. Ann White of Montbello 2020. Ms. Ann is also an ELK advocate who often sends families our way and partners with ELK on multiple events throughout the year.
“ELK gives youth the opportunity for our kids to think outside the box and think more about our natural environment,” said Coach Narcy Jackson of Athletics & Beyond, a nonprofit gym that helps youth athletes around Denver get to the next level, while also building character.
We are currently partnering with Athletics & Beyond for our Family Fitness classes on Mondays.
“A breath of fresh air,” said Chris Urias who has been involved in ELK since being a student in high school, to working for ELK, to now partnering with us as a fellow for the Trust for Public Land.
Who is ELK?
Although we have always been stewards of the outdoors for our community, we are also a face for diversity on all fronts. We have students and families that come together from different races, religions, gender identities, and other demographics in every program we hold at the ELK Education Center. Our mission is not only to get a diverse community through our doors, but to also make them feel welcome, whether it is treating everyone with respect, or just opening our doors as a safe space.
Looking into 2023, we are planning a number of new programs such as a nature club, and a gardening and creative club, as well as continuing all of our “OG” programs that ELK has been offering for many years.
To learn more about our ELK Education Center or to reserve this space, visit https://elkkids.org/about/elk-education-center/.
Sign up for our newsletter and follow our exciting journey at https://elkkids.org/news-media/.
Dennis Troutman is ELK’s Education Coordinator for the ELK Education Center, a first-of-its-kind role for the organization. Dennis found his passion for the outdoors after working at Booker T. Washington State Park in Tennessee, which was the first state park open to African Americans in the state. His goal is to expose at-risk and under-privileged youth and their families to the numerous benefits and opportunities in the outdoors while creating more equity and equality in natural spaces. In his free time, you can find Dennis out biking, hiking, cooking, exploring Denver, or hanging out with his family and dogs Kaluha and Roxie.
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.