Schools and Outdoor Learning Environments (SOLE) Program
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
2020 Innovative EE Program Award Recipient
Surrounded by 4th grade students on a field trip to a local State Park, one can hear the sounds of excitement, curiosity and pure enjoyment of the wildlife and landscape that surround these students. A Schools and Outdoor Learning Environments (SOLE) teacher captured our goals best when she wrote, “I feel SOLE is providing opportunities for students who would not have these opportunities otherwise. In addition, it is showing students the benefit and importance of preserving, taking care of and enjoying nature.” SOLE began in 2013 with a simple mission, to connect kids to the outdoors. We strive to connect our local schools with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, along with our network of partners, to increase youth and family interest in the outdoors.
Over the past seven years, SOLE has grown from supporting two schools in the Denver area to 53 schools statewide. Through this program, 4th grade students are supported in getting outside with funding for multiple field trips, hands-on in-class programs, and opportunities for students and their families to learn more about recreating in the outdoors. In addition, SOLE provides teachers with environmental education resources and professional development. It’s through the strong partnerships of Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) staff, a network of partner organizations, and these amazing schools that we aim to provide a collection of meaningful experiences for students so that they feel, as this student did, that the program “has changed this year because it motivated me to go outside more.”