From The Greeley Tribune (Kelly Ragan):
The Colorado Association of Conservation Districts puts on Camp Rocky every year. It’s a weeklong experience for kids ages 14-19. The camp is just outside the town of Divide, about 45 minutes west of Colorado Springs.
During the first half of the week, campers choose to learn about soil and water conservation, fish and wildlife management, forest management or rangeland science. For the second half, students work with their groups to complete a management project and have a little fun along the way.
This year, the soil and water conservation group — the one Schneider chose — will learn about the primary components of a watershed. They’ll study a river system and learn how different soil types affect plants, wildlife, water and humans.
“I remember being able to use different types of instrumentation, measuring water flow and testing in ways I was unable to do in the high school classroom,” Schneider said.
Kristi Helzer, West Greeley Conservation District’s outreach coordinator, said the camp is for city kids who don’t spend much time in the wilderness as well as country kids such as Schneider.
“I hope it lights their fire,” Helzer said. “As a mom, there’s nothing better than seeing a light bulb go off for a young person.”
Rangeland science is perfect for kids who come from ranching families or who live on the prairie, Schneider said. The forest management course can teach outdoorsy kids the functions of a forest. The fish and wildlife course can be informative for kids who like to go hunting and fishing with their parents or grandparents, Helzer said.
“There’s something in conservation for everyone,” Schneider said. “It can be as simple or as technical as that person wishes it to be.”
For Schneider, the camp planted a seed.
She went on to college and took a basic soil science class. She remembered how interesting it had been at the camp. The more she learned, the deeper she wanted to dig.
“I knew I needed to work with dirt,” Schneider said.
Schneider now works for the West Greeley Conservation District — the organization that puts on Camp Rocky every year — as a conservation technician.
“Now when I look back and can reflect on that experience and the people I met, whether my peers or some of the guides, I can see it was really beneficial for me,” Schneider said.