Upward Bound Summer Academy Students Connect with Local Ecology

Upward Bound student and Ecosystem Science Field Experience Lab Field Technician make observations on water quality in a Leadville stream.

Upward Bound student and Ecosystem Science Field Experience Lab Field Technician make observations on water quality in a Leadville stream.

High School students in the CMC Upward Bound Summer Academy learn about local ecology with the Ecosystem Science Field Experience Lab

This summer, Ecosystem Science Field Experience Lab (ESFEL) field technicians had the opportunity to mentor local youth through the Upward Bound Summer Academy.  This symbiotic program has created new opportunities for both Upward Bound students and CMC graduates to gain new skills. While high school students learn about ecology and environmental science, CMC graduates working as ESFEL field technicians gain mentoring and teaching experience.

Upward Bound is a federally funded TRIO program designed to help first-generation and income-eligible students prepare to enter and succeed in higher education. The Colorado Mountain College Upward Bound Program is an academically rigorous college prep program that helps high school students with academic potential stay motivated and develop skills necessary to graduate from high school and move on to college. Upward Bound program works with students from Battle Mountain High School, Eagle Valley High School, Lake County High School, and Red Canyon High School.

CMC Leadville Upward Bound summer academy students hiking in the forest “In the first week of July, ESFEL worked with Upward Bound students to determine ecosystem health of the forest on CMC Leadville campus,” says Windy Selig, Instructional Coordinator, Ecosystems Science Field Work, “CMC graduates working with ESFEL this summer, mentored the Upward Bound students through using equipment and understanding the forest dynamics.”

The program also gives students a closer look at the impact of mining on the local ecosystem by examining water and soil quality. They also discussed potential threats to wilderness areas including pathogens and climate change.

The mission of Upward Bound Summer Academy is to provide students with experiential learning opportunities that challenge them academically while exposing them to potential career paths. Students in grades 9-12 live on the CMC Leadville Campus Sunday – Thursday for two weeks. While they are here, they participate in a combination of experiential classes and enrichment activities.

“They hiked almost six miles and learned about their own grit and inner determination,” says Windy, “for many of them, this was their first time on such an excursion!”