Educating for Environmental Responsibility
In 1969, Elizabeth Paepcke donated her 25-acre property in the West End of Aspen for the development of an environmental center and preserve. She was motivated by "The Aspen Idea" of harmony between mind, body, and spirit, and envisioned a place that would provide a bridge to nature for an increasingly urbanized society, while also serving as a sanctuary for wildlife in the heart of Aspen. As a child, Elizabeth had also been influenced by her experiences with Enos Mills, the father of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Elizabeth Paepcke was joined in her efforts by a number of founding trustees, notably science teacher Bob Lewis and botanist Stuart Mace. Together, they hoped that the nature center would provide programs in ecology and natural sciences for everyone, from school children to leaders and decision-makers.
Since then, ACES has expanded its environmental education reach to schools from Aspen to Rifle, partnering with more than 60 schools to provide education programs in the classroom and field. In addition to science education, ACES also focuses on sustainable food systems and regenerative agriculture, forest health, habitat restoration, and connecting adults and children to nature. In the next 50 years, we will continue to build a community of ecologically literate citizens, aiming to be a beacon of science-based environmental leadership and education for all ages, creating a deeper connection between humans and the natural world.
"Curtis looks on his calendar every day and is so excited when it is an ACES day. He loved the science behind the subject matter and incorporates the things he learns into every day life including terminology."
"Cartland absolutely loved her time with ACES. The structure of learning about nature and the environment that we live in has made her have more fun when we are outside - she will apply what she has learned in the classroom to other things. The lessons seem to always be different and fun."
"We love the ACES program. It is a very important part of learning about the environment/nature locally and globally.
"Liz loves her ACES class! Every time she comes home from school on an ACES day we get to hear all about her experience and I am thrilled that she gets this opportunity. She has even taught us things."
ACES has once again received a 4-star rating (the highest possible) from Charity Navigator, the country's foremost authority guiding intelligent philanthropic giving. They have also ranked ACES #1 in the entire country in our category of nonprofits in their Holiday Giving Guide.
This national top ranking confirms that we are meeting our mission in an effective, responsive, and transparent way and that donor dollars are spent wisely and are actually making a difference!