River Rovers

Here at the ELC, we love the Poudre River! Swimming, fishing, exploring, and catching toads are all part of the magic of the river in the summer time. In fact, there’s so much demand for our river-themed summer camp that we offer it twice each year! One of the best parts of this camp is our day with the Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter of Trout Unlimited, when volunteers visit the ELC to teach our campers about the macroinvertebrates that live in the river and guide them in a fly-tying activity. We appreciate the time that these volunteers give to our campers and the wisdom and experience they pass on to the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts. Thank you Trout Unlimited!


Growing Partnerships

We are so excited to be working with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) on several projects this summer. By combining our expertise in connecting youth to nature with WRV’s expertise in restoration ecology, we are creating high impact programs that get youth involved in caring for the natural places in their community and empower them to be the stewards of tomorrow.

On July 24, we will work with the student council from Poudre High School to rebuild the trail at Young Gulch and remove invasive plant species from this area, which was devastated by the High Park Fire in 2012 and flooding in 2013.

On August 3, WRV will come to the ELC to work with our E-CAMP middle school summer program. We will plant native willows and install erosion mitigation structures to help preserve a riverbank that has been severely eroded since the 2013 floods.

Read more about these projects.

Accomplishing a huge task, like caring for our natural resources, requires innovative partnerships. When people and organizations come together to care for the places we love, the whole community benefits.

Looking for a way to give back to the natural areas you love? Consider volunteering with WRV!

Girls in the Woods

This summer, we had the opportunity to launch an exciting new program in partnership with the STEM Institute at Preston Middle School called Girls in the Woods. This middle school summer camp focused on developing outdoor skills and appreciation for nature in a supportive, all-girls environment. But why is it important to get girls outside?

Girls and women feel a great deal of pressure to conform; to be a certain way or do certain things. Many girls also experience a decline in overall confidence starting in about 5th grade.  Luckily, spending time in nature and with meaningful friends can help. Whereas time spent using technology is related to feelings of sadness and depression in girls, time spent in nature can reduce stress and anger. Women who spend at least an hour, on average, outside each day feel more confident in many areas of their lives and many women say that being in nature makes them feel free from the pressures of everyday life. Supportive friendships also help to reduce feelings of sadness and depression in girls.

Girls in the Woods is a special program that gives girls the opportunity to try new things in a supportive environment with their peers and adult female role models. The girls in this camp caught and identified insects, went hiking, learned to use a compass and set up bear bags, tents and tarps. During our overnight trip to the CSU Mountain Campus, we successfully lit a campfire with only one match, roasted s’mores, identified wildflowers and watched as researchers banded and released hummingbirds. We also got in touch with our artistic side with daily drawing and writing activities that connected us to nature in a more personal way.

Many of these girls accomplished things during the week that they thought were scary or difficult, and everyone’s confidence grew over the course of camp. At the end of the week, the campers noted that the girls-only environment helped them get to know each other better and develop friendships with people they had never met before. Programs like Girls in the Woods are key to helping girls increase their overall confidence, learn skills they might never have without these outdoor experiences and form positive, supportive relationships with other girls.

But the most important change happens at home; many women report that their mother was the most important female role model for their outdoor experiences as children. So, if you’re a parent, take your girls outside this weekend and cross something off the list of 100 Things to do Before You’re 12!

Hello Summer!

The longest day of the year has come and gone, and summer has officially started. In support of efforts to get kids outside, Governor Hickenlooper has declared June 21 Generation Wild Day in Colorado! Check out Generation Wild’s list of 100 things to do outside before you’re 12 for some summertime inspiration.

Of course, at the ELC, summer camp has already been underway for several weeks. We are wrapping up our third week of camp today; here’s an update on what we’ve been up to.

In our Method to the Nature Madness camp, we built a variety of structures and used the scientific method to test them out. Campers built miniature rafts and tested their ability to stay afloat while supporting rocks. They also created dams to control the flow of water in our diversion ditch.


During Wonders of Wildlife, the highlight of the week was our guest presenters who taught us about reptiles and even brought live ones that we could hold!

Today we are wrapping up our Plants, Plots, and Play, Oh My! camp which has focused on plants, rocks, soil and gardening. Naturally, we got really muddy this week!

Stay tuned for more updates about how summer is progressing at the ELC.

Looking for your next outdoor adventure? Check out the upcoming campfire night at Lory State Park on June 26.

Generation Wild

Still looking for some more activities to do with the family? Check out this list from Generation Wild of 100 things kids should do before they are 12. See if you can check some off this weekend!

The List

Also be sure to check them out on Facebook!

Challenges at the ELC

The ELC is a wonderful place for all types of folks to visit and connect with nature. However, even in our little paradise, we have some challenges.

In this interview by Zoe Shark featuring our staff member, Lauren Hughes, they discuss some of those challenges, and the different ways we overcome them. Check out the link below to read more.

Be sure to leave a comment!

Feeling the Love

Happy Late Valentine’s Day Nature Nerds! Today, we are thinking about about how much we still love and appreciate nature, even on these windy days. So don’t forget to go outside and enjoy nature! Come on over to the Environmental Learning Center and get the family outside. Some activities that you and your family can do out here include, walking around the property (you might see some cool deer!), bird watching (the Red-Winged Blackbirds may be coming back to town), enjoying the sounds of the river, or even conduct a cool science experiment!

Check out this cool website for some science experiments you can do with your kids at home.



Winter Staff Retreat 2018

Last weekend the ELC staff spent time together during the annual winter staff retreat up in Red Feather Lakes. In addition to preparing for programs this spring semester, ELC staff reflected on their values as a foundation for personal and professional goals. Taking the time to evaluate our mission as instructors, students, and as an organization is essential for reaching the goals we set. It is a great practice for everyone, especially in light of the new year!

Together with a slippery game of broomball and other thrilling activities, the ELC staff is excited to begin the spring semester. We hope to see you at soon at the Environmental Learning Center and upcoming ELC events!


FAN Day 2017

Looking for a fun way to spend the first Saturday in November? Join us for Families About Nature (FAN) Day this Saturday, November 4th from 10am-1pm to enjoy free activities with your family on the trails at the Environmental Learning Center.

Activities will include a wildlife ID scavenger hunt, a compass course, miniature raft building to float down the Poudre, arts and crafts and much more! We’ll finish up the day with a pizza lunch provided for all participants.

Please click here to RSVP so we can be sure to have enough fun and food to go around!

New School Year, Nature’s Harvest Fest, and E-CAMP

Welcome back to a new school year! We look forward to the many programs we will teach this year as we share nature with children and all who are in the ELC community. Thank you for being invested in our mission and the many opportunities to enjoy nature all around Fort Collins and Northern Colorado.

This last Saturday, September 16th, the ELC participated with Nature’s Harvest Fest at the Gardens on Spring Creek. The ELC loves to participate with the children of families who attend this event. We provided animal furs, skulls, and our classic Gerdy the Great Blue Heron for the attendees to explore. We were able to connect with many new families interested in our programs. Despite the rain and truly “Fall” temperatures, the event was certainly a success.

The ELC is looking for students 6th through 8th grade who are interested in developing outdoor and environmental skills, want to build lifelong friendships with common interests, and who simply cannot get enough of the ELC. If you are or have a middle school student, look into our E-CAMP program (here… that is specifically for YOU. We have three amazing programs throughout the Fall semester, and would love to see you there!

Always feel free to contact us with any questions, concerns, or feedback you may have. Above all, make sure to come out and enjoy the ELC this season!