NKJN Program Reconnects a Generation to the Outdoors

At the beginning of the 2017 year, Keystone Science School (KSS) received approximately $30,000 annually for five years in new funding from the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) competitive grant program, which aims to reconnect an entire generation with the great outdoors. The funding came through Thorne Nature Experience’s Nature Kids/Jovenes de la Naturaleza (NKJN) program which provides programming for students in grades K-12 with a focus on backyard to backcountry programming. There are over 75 partner organizations and Keystone Science School is excited to be one of the many program partners with a focus of providing backcountry experiences.

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The awarded money came with the stipulation that Keystone Science School would match 48% of the funding through fundraising efforts. KSS accepted this challenge and is currently working to fundraise almost $35k annually to meet the matching funds goal. Keystone Science School welcomes any financial support to help accomplish our goal and provide underserved students of the Lafayette area with a Keystone Science School backcountry experience.

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Now in its 3rd summer, Keystone Science School is preparing to welcome students from the Lafayette community as scholarship recipients to its traditional Keystone Voyager and Keystone Mountain Adventure programs. Keystone Voyager programs are for middle school students and consist of week-long camping experiences to a variety of locations throughout Colorado. Each Keystone Voyage offers a variety of activities depending on the location such as whitewater rafting, rock climbing, hiking, and stand up paddleboarding. Keystone Mountain Adventures are exclusively for high schoolers seeking backcountry focused programs each lasting 12-days. Programs are in Utah and Colorado and include experiences like canyoneering, overnight canoeing, whitewater rafting, backpacking and more.

“We had a great group of students and I am always surprised when students state that they have never even been hiking. Backpacking and sleeping in a tent was such a unique experience which many of us take for granted. I felt lucky to be a part of this program and help provide new experiences for these Lafayette students.”

Christina Wheeler, KSS Staff and Curriculum Manager

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Along with the summer programs the NKJN funding provides full scholarships for the 5th-grade students of three elementary schools within the Lafayette community to participate in an environmental focused overnight field trip. Each program brings over 400 students to the Keystone Science School campus for meaningful, inquiry-based, nonbiased, collaborative learning experiences in the natural environment.

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