2022 Innovative EE Program Award Recipient
Cottonwood Institute’s new Changemaker Program is an environmental education and community leadership program for CAP alumni students. The program gives a small cohort of students a chance to dig deeper into environmental topics like sustainability, ecology, environmental stewardship, outdoor skills, and supports them in becoming leaders in their own communities. It is a student-directed/CI CAP Instructor co-created student leadership and job readiness program made up of motivated high school-aged students with interest in further engaging in environmental education and outdoor leadership and/or interest in applying a sustainability framework to any job they pursue. The cohort has fun outdoor experiences like overnight camping and hiking. The program also provides students with a stipend to purchase necessary outdoor gear and free professional development opportunities and conferences of interest such as Wilderness First Aid, Partners in the Outdoors Conference, etc.
Some of the program objectives include learning and practicing how to work individually and collectively to identify, understand, and address issues that are important to them and their communities. CI Mentors/CAP Instructors develop healthy mentoring relationships with high school students and students develop close relationships with their peers. CI collaborates with local organizations and local organizers to provide a team of support for each Changemaker focused on the issue they choose, and program partners support individual student’s personal and professional development. Changemaker youth and their families share power with CI Staff as co-creators of the Changemaker Program and students share feedback to further develop the program to better suit their needs and interests.