SPREE's River Ranger Program Wins "Best New Program"
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“Being a River Ranger for me has been a lot of growing up…I learned how to interact with kids, I learned that I am a teacher, and I learned a lot of new things about myself.” - Mobert Habimfura, River Ranger
Each summer, The Greenway Foundation employs 10-15 Denver youth as River Rangers. This diverse group of high school and college students spends the summer learning what it means to be an environmental educator and a steward of the environment through their work along the South Platte River and its tributaries. The program encompasses a wide array of experiences to build the knowledge and skills these youth need to pursue careers in the environmental field. The River Rangers participate in a series of 10, two-hour workshops highlighting the different components of environmental education. Youth integrate what is learned during these workshops and apply it on the job while leading day trips with elementary students and youth summer camps, implementing park improvement projects, and conducting historic public boat tours on the Cherry Creek. The River Rangers ultimately compile a portfolio, demonstrating their knowledge and skills, for submission to the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education (CAEE) with the goal of earning a credential as a Certificated Environmental Educator in Colorado.
The River Ranger program replaced the Greenway Foundation’s previous employment program in 2010 to address several needs and goals. The demographics of the professionals working in environmental education, natural resource, and related fields are not representative of Colorado’s population. The long-term preservation of our natural resources depends on our ability to engage these underrepresented youth as leaders, stewards, and role models for their communities through pursuing degrees and careers in these fields. A major obstacle for these youth is a lack of core knowledge and basic skills enabling them to compete for entry-level jobs. This program aims to close these gaps while exposing youth to inclusive experiences and opportunities many of them never knew existed. River Ranger, Kay Caranta, shares, “My experience as a River Ranger overall was really great because it set me on a career path that I had no idea I had interest in. It gave me the skills and motivation to have an environmental career later on in life.” Throughout the summer, The Greenway Foundation invites several professionals to speak with the youth about opportunities in green jobs and other environmental career paths.
In addition to exposing these youth to environmental careers, the River Rangers develop their environmental literacy. They learn how to identify native plants and animals, investigate environmental issues, and form a personal connection with nature right in the heart of the city. This program is strengthened by several partnerships, including Denver Parks and Recreation, CAEE, Overland Pond Stewardship Partners, Groundwork Denver, and Summer Scholars.
The Greenway Foundation
610 South Jason Street
Denver, CO 80223
303.743.9720, ext. 820