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Poudre Heritage Alliance

The Poudre River is recognized by Congress for its role in shaping western water law and water management systems. PHA connects people to their river legacy by promoting historical and cultural opportunities; engaging people in the river corridor; & inspiring learning, preservation, & stewardship.

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Learning in our Watershed - Field Trip Grant Program

Class

Education 

Beneficiaries

Children ages 5 to 21
Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Children (4-12 years)
Teachers

Description

Students really do learn on field trips, yet they are in danger of disappearing from American schools, particularly for disadvantaged students. Studies have shown that field trips and hands-on learning make concepts more memorable, and enhance students' critical thinking skills, historical empathy, tolerance and appreciation for museums and natural areas.

Yet, figures show that field trips have dropped an estimated 30 to 50% since 2002. With skyrocketing bus costs, school budgets decreasing, and the expectation that educators present as much standards-related content in the school day as possible, many schools are viewing field trips as an unattainable luxury. However, nothing replaces the social and educational perspectives gained through firsthand experiences.

"Thank you for making it possible to go to the PLC (Poudre Learning Center). My favorite part was the frog, grasshopper, hawk game. Because I won as a hawk!"
~Carli, 4th grade, Range View Elementary

The Poudre Heritage Alliance created Learning in Our Watershed™ to help youth understand and value the Poudre River and their water heritage, inspiring our next generation of river stewards.

Learning in Our Watershed™ covers a range of topics from water quality and management, to invasive species, agriculture, wildlife, Native American history, early European settlers, healthy ecosystems, and more.

We provide grants to K-12 school teachers in Larimer and Weld County to bring their students on field trips to the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area. By removing financial barriers, we enable teachers and students to access the wealth of historical, natural and cultural sites in their backyard.

Seventeen sites or annual water-related festivals within the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area are automatically "approved" for field trip destinations. Examples include: Centennial Village, Environmental Learning Center, Greeley Museum, Children's Water Festivals in Fort Collins and Greeley, the Poudre Learning Center, and more.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Teachers complete a report after each field trip that asks what worked, what can be improved upon, and what other field trip needs they have.

"Dear Poudre Heritage Alliance and the Poudre Learning Center Staff,
The first grade classes at Cottonwood Plains elementary recently went on a field trip to the Poudre Learning Center. My teaching partners and I were extremely impressed with the entire experience-from planning to follow up. Every staff member I contacted was so helpful, accommodating and positive. It was one of the best field trip experiences we have had and I am so excited to make this an annual event. Thank you so much for the grant for our transportation and working with us to enhance our students' experience. Have a wonderful summer and keep your heads above water!
~Laurie Lambert, Samantha Minnis, Laura Yaussi"

Water Legacy: Documenting History for Future Generations

Class

Education 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Adults
General population
Teachers

Description

Rivers in the West are under exceptional stress. Many experts have been studying how growth, climate, economic development, and other factors point to an uncertain picture for communities, rural and urban alike. These experts understand that communities large and small must prepare themselves for the economic and hydrologic implications of greater conservation in the municipal and industrial sectors. These might include increased agricultural efficiencies, water transfers that may involve land fallowing, increased consideration of water for natural resources, and investments in more advanced treatment technologies. Communities will be positioned to make better decisions if their residents - who ultimately are the farmers and ranchers, the business operators, the environmentalists, and the recreationists - are informed and excited about water.

In Colorado, we are in peril of losing a generation of individuals who collectively hold vital knowledge about western water issues. The Colorado water community is currently witnessing a number of key retirements and has recently experienced the passing of some important individuals. While their legacies may be captured through their work at their organizations, not every individual will leave behind personal papers or other means for those following in their footsteps to learn from.

Capturing and sharing knowledge from individuals and organizations that have been instrumental in the development of water resources in Colorado and the West is critical. These individuals hold the key information that communities need in order to plan for their water futures.

Recorded interviews can elicit knowledge, stories, and thoughts that may only be conveyed orally and may otherwise disappear. With the losses already experienced, and the stresses on our water supplies increasing exponentially, a project like this becomes more urgent every day.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Water-related oral histories in the CSU Water Archives
Educational videos on Poudre Heritage Alliance website

Heritage Culturalist Volunteer Program

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

General Public
Outdoor Recreationists
Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Adults
Families

Description

What makes a sense of place - and how do you empower everybody in a community to feel proud of, and able to contribute to, where they live, work and play? By helping people understand, value and share their collective heritage.

Heritage is the story that puts history into some kind of narrative. Heritage from the past helps us collectively or individually to understand the present and create a better future. And, volunteers of all ages and backgrounds who participate in our Heritage Culturalist Volunteer Program help people understand and engage with the rich history and recreation opportunities of the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area.

The Heritage Culturalist Volunteer Program is a FREE ambassador training program that educates volunteers in the rich history, natural and cultural resources and recreational opportunities within the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area.

Once trained, volunteers guide public programs, activities and events within the heritage area.

What makes our Heritage Culturalist Program successful?
• Training the trainers - staff and experts from the Poudre Heritage Alliance and partner sites located throughout the National Heritage Area help train the volunteers
• Sharing passion - the volunteers enthusiastically share their love of the Cache la Poudre River and its heritage with residents and visitors alike.
• Building capacity - the cohort of volunteers help the Poudre Heritage Alliance expand its programming to reach a wider audience and deepen its relevance within the community.
• Range of programs - volunteers assist in supporting and/or leading a range of programs in the heritage area for young and old. Activities range from Children's Water Festivals, to bicycle tours highlighting water resource management, to history walks focused on Native American culture, to special events such as the Poudre Pour - an educational celebration of the Poudre River.
• Impact assessment - each year the program is reviewed and refined by both volunteers and program participants

Through a variety of fun and informative activities, our Heritage Culturalist Volunteers broaden our understanding of history, and connect us more deeply to our shared river culture and heritage.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Program evaluations from both volunteers and program participants.
Grant from the Colorado State Historic Fund of History Colorado to support the program.
Increased brand awareness of the Poudre Heritage Alliance.
Increased number of program participants and partners (capacity building).

Poudre Pour

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Adults
Children (4-12 years)
Families
General population

Description

From a healthy Poudre River flows plenty of good "cheer" - including craft stouts, ales, lagers, and liquors. The annual Poudre Pour brings the community together to celebrate the bounty that flows from the Poudre River through local industry, agriculture, education and recreation.

This event is not your typical brewfest! The Poudre Pour™ raises awareness about local water issues and brings community members together to celebrate our Poudre River heritage and our most important resource: water.

The Poudre Pour™ features interactive, informative and fun activities such as: Speaker panels hosted by leading water experts; docent guided tours of historic cabins; kids' activities such as painting river critters on t-shirts; student presentations on the river ecosystem; art exhibitions highlighting the Poudre watershed; craft brew tastings; and much more.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

All partners want to participate again for the second annual event
First year 422 attendees and 40+ volunteers
Standing room attendance at the speaker panel presentation "A River of Many Uses"
Estimated marketing reach 335,000 people

Pedaling the Poudre

Class

Recreation & Sports 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Adults
Families
General population
Young Adults (20-25 years)

Description

Bicycling in the Poudre River corridor has been a popular pastime for centuries. If you pass through in a car you'll only scratch the surface of what the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area has to offer.

From giant cottonwoods, soaring eagles and hawks, sparkling lakes and rivers, to learning about the history of water use in Colorado, our pedaling adventures explore the national heritage area's landmarks and landscapes.

The Poudre Heritage Alliance offers a range of pedal tours that are comfortable for a wide range of cyclists of all ages in both Larimer and Weld Counties. Each tour is led by one of our Heritage Culturalist Volunteers who share a wealth of knowledge about the area.

One example is a 15-mile "water history ride" that follows the floodplain of the Cache la Poudre River through a mix of fields, cottonwood trees, lakes, and the river itself. This is a great ride for 5-10 people who might have wondered how water gets from the mountains to the kitchen faucet, or how water laws were formed. During the journey an expert guides participants to locations where significant early water development took place, and where current water facilities still operate. Participants gain a better understanding of how water is distributed among the various users, and why the prior appropriation system is the rule of the river.

Our Pedaling the Poudre tours are perfect for children, even those who have never been on a bicycle before. In partnership with Growing Project, we hosted 25 different guided bicycling adventures for youth from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Larimer County and the Family Center/La Familia. Each session began with a biking "safety circle" to help the youth feel comfortable with the bikes and instructors. Then, off they pedaled, exploring the local watershed and stopping for hands-on activities to learn about ecology, health of the Poudre River, and to remove trash or invasive species.

The good news - the kids all want to come back!

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Surveys from the 25 bicycle tours hosted in partnership with Growing Project showed that 100% of the youth learned about bike safety; 90% shared stories about their rides with family and friends; 90% increased knowledge about plants; 85% increased knowledge about wildlife; and most importantly - they all want to come back for more!

Heritage Trails

Class

Community Development 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Adults
Families
General population
Young Adults (20-25 years)

Description

The Heritage Trails Program is designed to improve the visitor experience; raise awareness about the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area; highlight interesting and ingenious ways that humans have interacted and worked with the Poudre River; and improve connections from the river corridor to nearby towns, businesses, historical sites, and natural areas.

Through the Heritage Trails program we will create cohesive branding, storytelling and visitor wayfinding throughout the river corridor. Interpretive signs and viewing areas next to the river will enable visitors to understand more clearly the messages of history, the environment, or a nearly forgotten culture. Also, the Heritage Trail will include iconic gateways that will connect the national heritage area to adjacent town sites, historic structures, natural areas, recreational opportunities, and more.

This program ties into the re-development of the Poudre River District in downtown Fort Collins that includes a Whitewater Park that will transform sections of the river and improve water flow for kayakers and tubers. The need for interpretation along the new River District will be tremendous given that historical features such as the "Coy Ditch" diversion structure that have been a part of Fort Collins' and Colorado's water history since the late 1800's will be removed.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Project partners include: City of Fort Collins, Art in Public Places, Downtown Development Authority, Tres Colonias Neighborhood, New Belgium Brewing Company, Bohemian Foundation, BHA Design

Pub Talks: Water Speaker Series

Class

Education 

Beneficiaries

Adults
General population

Description

More than 634,000 of us living in Northern Colorado depend upon healthy water from the Cache la Poudre River. Yet, our river is under threat from increasing demands of a growing population, unpredictable droughts, fires, floods and much more.

Our Pub Talk: Water Speak Series helps to raise awareness about the many issues facing the Poudre River and its watershed.

These free public presentations area conducted by leading water experts and cover a range of topics such as "Floods & Wildfires", "Farm to Foam - The Brewing Process", "Water Law in the West", and "Stream Ecology & Environmental Economics".

It is more important than ever to bring community members together to discuss water issues, to encourage water education, and to protect the quality of our most important resource: water.

These presentations hosted in Fort Collins and Greeley bring the community together to generate an understanding of what it takes to sustainably manage our invaluable water resource - the Cache la Poudre River!

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Positive speaker and attendee feedback
Average attendance 25 people during each of the first year's series
Increase in locations wanting to host a Pub Talk


Play it Safe on the Poudre

Class

Public Safety, Disaster Services 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Adults
Families
Young Adults (20-25 years)

Description

The goal of the Play it Safe on the Poudre is to expand opportunities for safer and more sustainable recreational usage of the Poudre River, while raising awareness about river heritage.

The multi-faceted program will publicize safe practices that help everyone enjoy the Poudre River safely and assist the Poudre Fire Authority and Larimer County's rescue teams in meeting increasing demands.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Installation of safety and hazard signs in the Poudre River.
Development of a "River Access" map that outlines preferred access points and tubing routes.

Historic Preservation

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Adults
General population
Teachers

Description

Historic preservation matters because it addresses a very fundamental need - community. It binds us to one another and to the past. It reminds us that we are not the first generation to face hardships. If our ancestors and predecessors could face great challenges and survive, and even thrive, we can too.

History is our collective memory, a source of wisdom and strength we can draw on when we need it. And we need it now more than ever, precisely because the challenges we face are so complicated and intractable. Perhaps the largest challenge facing the Western US, if not the globe, is water.

Water makes life possible and is essential for economies to function. But, freshwater resources are in jeopardy due to growing demand, pollution and climate change. These pressures create profound risks for businesses and communities. We can't possibly navigate a topic as large as this without some sense of perspective, and some help from the past.

The 1883 Fort Collins Water Works is a direct link to that past. By restoring the 23-acre site and transforming it into a comprehensive Water Interpretive Center we can connect people to their history and water heritage, and empower them to become more informed guardians of their water resources.

Restoring the property and developing a Water Interpretive Center will help ensure that visitors can learn about our most important resource: water.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

In its current un-restored state, with limited parking and no toilet facilities on-site, the Water Works manages to attract thousands of visitors each year. (Once restored, the potential to expand visitation and educational programming expands exponentially).

The annual "Big Splash" hosted at the Water Works draws approx. 300 attendees each year.

Volunteers host an average of 1,500 - 2,000 youth on field trips each year.

On a recent visit, a fourth grader contributed $22 from her piggy bank to help restore the Water Works because she wants to help other kids learn about the importance of water.

Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.