Play, Learn, and Care

Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado and Lake International School

2018 Innovative EE Program Award Recipient

Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado - Play, Learn, and Care

In 2015, VOC partnered for the first time with Lake International Middle School. Nearly 30 Lake International students spent their day engaged in outdoor games and volunteer efforts at Denver’s Four Mile Historic park.

Following the project, Lake International personnel and VOC staff began discussing how to create a more sustained partnership to address the alarming disconnect between students and natural places in their neighborhoods and nearby foothills. These conversations led to VOC’s Play, Learn, and Serve Program. Now named Play, Learn, and Care.

The mission of the program is to provide youth of all backgrounds with high-quality environmental education and responsible recreation, empowering them to build a lifelong connection to nature and become active stewards of Colorado’s natural resources.

Now, in the final and third year of its pilot, this innovative program has been actively working to address the growing racial and economic “adventure gap” through effectively engaging a predominantly minority student population in outdoor experiences twice a year. We aim to work intentionally over an extended period with largely the same group of students while working with the school personnel to develop a sustainable and expansive model for its continuation. We hope to ensure that students can play outside in their communities and beyond, learn about the biodiversity and wildlife of our state, and care for the expansive outdoors Colorado has to offer.