Learning Environmental Activities for Families (LEAF) is Life!
On the chilly morning of Earth Day 2023, families gathered at the ELK Education Center in Montbello. The plan for the day was to head to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge to participate in an Earth Day program. We hopped in the vans and spent the next few hours celebrating the Earth by spending time in nature, wildlife watching, and connecting with other people. Working with ELK families has been life changing as it has altered my perspective on experiential learning, environmental programming, and the critical role it plays for ELK families.
Environmental Learning for Kid’s family programs have grown exponentially since 2020 and have continued to see growth with the opening of the ELK Education Center. Learning Environmental Activities for Families (or LEAF programs) fill a specific role in connecting family members to one another and nature. LEAF also connects families with shared interests and expands their community of support.
On Earth Day this year while on a nature walk, I was struck by how easy it was for families who have never met to connect and bond with each other. They shared stories about wildlife watching, and their kids, and their lives. I believe when the connection between people grows stronger, our connection to the world strengthens as well.
Families who have participated in LEAF programming often have more confidence to embark on new and novel environmental activities. Learning Environmental Activities for Families brings families closer together and builds a more resilient supportive community for students and families.
Through ELK year-round programs of LEAF, YNR (Youth & Naturally Resources), and DYN (Denver Youth Naturally), we provided programming to 904 youth & families in 2022. We look forward to increasing this impact by 25% in 2023.
“I’m sure we have all heard the phrase, “It take a village to raise a child.” ELK has been a part of my village and I am very proud of the young, responsible man my son has evolved into. The outdoor adventures, mentors, friendships, and educational/work opportunities transformed our lives. — Rayven Irons, ELK Parent
We look forward to uplifting even more families in this intentional way throughout this summer and into the fall.
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-seven 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.
About the Author: Samantha Gilmore is an Education Coordinator with Environmental Learning for Kids. Sam is an active member of the Montbello and Denver communities and works in community planning and organizing.