We live and work in Montrose and it’s a pretty spectacular place to raise our kids. The Uncompahgre Valley is home to some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities available. Turns out, the outdoors is also a great place for kids to learn.
Our local school district is taking some bold steps to get more kids outdoors by designating a 10-acre site near the district headquarters as an outdoor learning center. The plan includes interactive hiking trails, a forest preschool, after-school and summer programs, and eventually a full-time K-12 outdoor-focused school.
The site will unfold over time, with the district offering programming starting this November. The forest preschool should be open by Fall of 2022. One of the first programs is an “Adventure With Me” course for parents and children to go on immersive nature walks on the campus or at Riverbottom Park.
Colorado Yurt Company is so excited to be part of this project. At the center of the new campus are two 30’ Colorado Yurts and three 28’ Earthworks Tipis– all proudly Made in Montrose. The yurts and tipis will be used as classrooms and gathering spaces for groups from Montrose School District, nearby schools, and homeschool groups. There are plans to broaden the use of the campus by engaging with others around the state to provide equipment, training, learning opportunities, and so much more.
Dr. Jessica Beller, Executive Director of Academic Services, explains the project: “We wanted to be able to provide a unique learning environment for students and the community. The idea of yurts and tipis came as part of an idea to develop a campus that emphasizes outdoor learning. We were also amidst the height of the COVID pandemic and though a lot about co-horting groups of individuals. Yurts and tipis are a perfect solution to both objectives: providing unique learning environments, and maintaining small groups of individuals.
I remember presenting these ideas to a few community groups last fall. We were dreaming big, and it was a little scary. Each time I presented, however, the support from our community was overwhelming! The day that the yurts went up, I literally cried. The progress we are making is a testament to the teamwork and commitment our community has for our schools and our students.
I love it when we can connect with people, and I feel like this process has allowed us to do that is so many individuals. Now, we have so many community partners supporting the development of this campus. The City of Montrose was generous to provide some COVID Relief Funds to the district for the purchase of the yurts and tipis. It is a true community effort.
This has been a labor of love. Love for kids, love for the outdoors, and love for Montrose.”
From order to pitch, we’ve been in close contact with the school district. Our crew spent several hot days pitching yurts and tipis. Keely Vaughn, the center’s program director, says, “It has been wonderful getting to know the whole Colorado Yurt crew. It was so awesome to have such gracious, creative energy on campus. We are feeling very grateful!”
Dr. Beller added, “We love working with you guys, and the crews that came to install the yurts and tipis were SUPER! We appreciate everything you’ve done for us.”
Here is an article about the project from our local newspaper.