Environmental Learning for Kids - Retired
2023 Enos A. Mills Award for Exemplary Contributions to Environmental Education Recipient
Loretta Pineda’s love of Colorado’s land and people motivated her relentless advocacy efforts promoting environmental education and sustainability. Loretta worked in state government for over 30 years at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR). At DNR she became a “mining history nerd” fascinated with the social, cultural, economic, and political facets of mining. As one of the few Latina women working in management, Loretta mentored women and historically underrepresented groups by developing strong partnerships with co-workers, and mining industry and environmental leaders. She found common ground in challenging environmental issues and advocated for public participation and education initiatives encouraging others to understand the importance of natural resource management and environmental restoration.
Loretta retired from DNR in 2014 and in 2015 became the executive director for Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK), a Denver nonprofit. A founding ELK Board member and recipient of ELK’s 2011 Lifetime Legacy Award, Loretta was familiar with their mission and community. Loretta began providing science-based education and outdoor opportunities through the Denver Urban Ranger Program, which received CAEE’s Innovation Environmental Education Award in 2016. The Urban Rangers, high school and college students, serve as ELK’s environmental educators often leading them to become community leaders.
Loretta managed a $6 million capital community campaign creating the Montbello Open Space Park and an education center for ELK programming. While fundraising, Loretta continued to support, engage, and learn from ELK’s youth leaders. Completing this visionary project required hard work, partnerships, and support from the community and is nationally recognized as a community hub and beacon of youth educational engagement.
Loretta retired in 2021 and continues to serve on several boards dedicated to promoting environmental protection, science education, youth leadership, and community sustainability. Board memberships include: Colorado Outdoor Equity Grant, Friends of Front Range Wildlife Refuges, Western Resource Advocates, High Line Canal Conservancy Advisory Committee, and Next 100 Colorado Coalition. Loretta grew up on a farm in Weld County and has a BA from Colorado State University. She lives in Denver with her retired, photographer husband, Dave, and they have an adult daughter living in Washington, D.C.