The Poudre Learning Center is all about environmental education.
Every year, in non-COVID-19 times, the center on 83rd Avenue in Greeley works with and hosts thousands of students and interested community members. Associated with the four school districts of Weld County, Greeley-Evans, Eaton, Weld RE-4 (Windsor / Severance) and Weld RE-5J (Milliken / Johnstown), the SPS mission is designed to help students and the public gain understanding and to develop appreciation for the great outdoors.
While the learning center is a teaching establishment, the center and its land became a resource or learning tool for a like-minded organization, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado on Saturday and Sunday.
After all, the care and maintenance of nature and nature – from setting up paths for recreational use to working on erosion control – is a team effort. Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, a nonprofit based in Denver, and the Poudre Learning Center have worked together for about seven years.
“Ecological restoration is typically collaborative,” said Larry Rogstad, director of SPS restoration.
John Giordanengo (left) of AltoTerra Restoration Services, Fort Collins, speaks to outdoor trainee volunteers in Colorado including Paul Amerling (right) during a workshop on Sunday, April 18, 2021 at the Poudre Learning Center on 83rd Avenue in Greeley ). The learning center hosted executives from the VOC trainee crew, who learned more about monitoring, managing and leading projects using SPS land during a two-day workshop from April 17th to 18th. (Anne Delaney / employee).
Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado engages thousands of people each year, according to its website, to provide volunteer work for recreation and habitat improvement projects in partnership with land agencies, nonprofits and community groups. The organization visited the SPS on Saturday and Sunday and turned some of the 200 acres into an outdoor classroom while tending to the land.
According to assistant program director Dan Williams, VOC ran a two-day training program for its volunteers to help them “work effectively and lead others”.
The trainees learned about a range of tasks, including planting, sowing and erosion control, while also helping to improve the SPS site.
“We have a lot of volunteer projects that we need (to complete),” said Rogstad. “We need to have seeds, equipment and volunteers on site. We have to start somewhere. “
One of the VOC volunteers at PLC for the training program was Denver-based Paul Amerling, a career counselor. Amerling said he had toured the state for the past four years working on projects with VOCs. Much of his work has been on trails.
Amerling said he wanted to take another step to become a crew leader, expand his knowledge, and he signed up for the training. It started with an independent online study and continued on Saturday with discussions and field projects and on Sunday with further field work.
“I know VOC wanted the fires (forest fires) to expand the scope of their projects, and I want to guide the crews through these important processes,” said Amerling. “I moved to Colorado because of the mountains and the great outdoors, and it’s a great way to give back what I do.”