Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Children (4-12 years)
Young Adults (20-25 years)
The Watershed Education Program (WEP) is committed to raising a generation of stewards of place.
WEP provides free, hands-on outdoor education for grades 3-12 in the San Miguel River Watershed-from its headwaters in the high alpine zone to the semi-desert confluence of the San Miguel and Dolores Rivers.
Our main focus is to assist teachers in planning, preparing and executing full-day and overnight field trips that tie directly to their classroom curriculum and the Colorado State Standards.
The San Miguel River Watershed is the core component of our place-based curriculum that includes science, technology, engineering, mathematics, history, language arts and art. We work with all schools, including Telluride, Norwood, Nucla, Naturita, and Paradox Valley.
The Watershed Education Program conducts summer programming in partnership with the Telluride Open Space Commission. We offer two outdoor programs: 1) Nature Rangers for younger ages and 2) Valley Floor Living Classroom for adults.
In partnership with the Telluride's Wilkinson Public Library, we offer adult outreach through the Watershed Expedition Series and bring in guest speakers, who share media presentations about their global adventures and efforts to preserve natural ecosystems. In addition, WEP provides watershed education programming for the Telluride Academy.
Expert scientists, government and municipal employees, and volunteers share their areas of expertise to give students a broader look at careers, multidisciplinary studies, and scientific concepts and practices.
Because of thoughtful donors and grant making organizations, hundreds of children and their teachers will continue to have unique educational experiences outside of the classroom in our precious and diverse watershed!
A middle-school student from one of the school districts lost her father very suddenly to cancer. She had applied for and was chosen for one of the spots for the Snowshoe Overnight before her father passed, but according to her mother was not sure she would want to go away from home so soon after such a tragic loss. When the time came, she decided to go with her fellow students on the trip. Watershed Education Program staff were aware of the circumstances and kept a candid eye on her throughout the trip. She was engaged, happy, energetic and a full participant in all of the activities and field work, as well as the team building aspects of the trip (e.g. cooking, clean-up, encouraging each other on the 5 mile round trip snow shoe). There were moments of introspection and sadness, but overall the experience was positive. In a follow-up conversation with her mother, she said that her daughter had not only learned so much on the trip, but that it was also a spark in the beginning of the healing process. In this case, WEP not only used the watershed as a teaching tool that met standards and STEM goals, but also a commitment to make learning meaningful and memorable.
- Mushroom ID Tent (3 days long): Mushroom foragers in and around Telluride are encouraged to bring their foraged mushrooms to the Mushroom ID tent to have professionals classify them. ID Tent Hosts will also give other scientific facts about history, like species, and share popular use. Approx. 800 people visited the Mushroom ID Tent over the course of 3 days.
- Various author/scientist book signing events (8 total signings, 1hr each): Author meet & greet, readings and signings on the latest publications of mycological stories, recipes and classification journals. Approx. 85 people attended these in total.
- Outdoor Cultivation of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms on Logs, Stumps and Wood Chips (1hr workshop): One of the easiest ways to grow wood loving mushrooms is using the basic log and stump method that anyone can do! Come and get some practice with experienced growers to see and experience the entire process firsthand, taught by the Festival staff. Approx. 65 people attended this workshop.
- Media Preparation for Cultivating Mushrooms on Straw and Other Agricultural Byproducts (1hr workshop): Many mushrooms can be cultivated on straw and agricultural by-products (Pleurotus, Stropharia, Psilocybe, Calocybe, Volvariella and many more). Come learn from this hands-on demo how to prepare the media for spawning and different techniques and containers that are species dependent. Approx. 50 people attended this workshop.
- Lecture: Mushroom Hunting 101: The Basics (1hr Lecture): "Mushroom Hunting 101: The basics" - intended for newcomers to mushroom hunting. How can wild mushrooms be safely identified? What are the key features to look for? How do you get started hunting for gourmet wild mushrooms when the consequences of mistaken identity can be very high? Basics such as spore color, gill attachment, and non-gilled mushrooms will be discussed. Approx. 75 people attended this lecture.
- Mushroom Dyeing Basics (1hr Workshop): Exploring Wild Mushrooms and Lichens for Dyes with Alissa Allen. Using Regional Dye Palette's and more! Every region has its own palette of mushroom and lichen dyes. This class takes an in-depth look at using wild fungi as sustainable, safe dye sources. Starting with 10-12 different species, with the addition of safe mordants and pH modifiers, we will end up with about 20 colors in all.
Wild Harvest: All of the dyes used are ethically harvested, dried, and weighed (using some fresh material if available). Students learn about mushroom safety, identification basics, habitats and ethical harvest. Participants receive a customized color guide to the best mushrooms and lichens for dye. Working with Fiber: We'll be working with wool and silk fiber. Some of the yarn for class has been pre-mordanted. This will allow ample time for us to focus on the dyes. Then, a Shibori demonstration: Participants will be guided through the steps to create an intricate arashi shibori inspired design. Each participant receives a blank silk scarf for practice. Additional scarves will be available for purchase. Workshop Takeaways: Students take home a detailed recipe card showcasing the rainbow of samples dyed in class. Participants receive a procedural handout, a customized guide to dye fungi and a beautiful hand dyed scarf. This workshop covers all aspects of getting started with mushroom and lichen dyes and leaves the student with the tools to carry on with their own exploration. Approx. 40 people attended this workshop.
- Lecture: The Way Through the Woods: A Woman's Mycological Journey (1hr lecture): Join Author, Long Litt Woon for an intimate book reading and explanation of hidden chapters into this personal story involving grief and finding your way through the woods. A self-help survival story of a woman experiencing the loss of her husband and was saved by the science and learning of the mycological world. Approx. 65 people attended this lecture.
- Mushroom Parade: Costume & Sign Making Workshop (1hr Workshop) : A fun and artistic way to participate in the Main St. Mushroom Parade. Design, paint and create 3D signs and figures for a colorful showcase paraded through town. Winner Announced after! Approx. 35 people attended this workshop.
- Lecture & Demo: Edible & Noteworthy Mushrooms Part 1: Identification Made Simple (1hr Lecture): Ok you've had several days of mushrooming with the Festival experts. You went to the introductory lectures on mushrooming. You went on all the forays. You spent a lot of time at the ID tent learning from experts. You even ate some of the strange wild mushrooms...and survived! Is your head spinning? It may be the altitude. Or it may be that you're suffering from Mycophilia! This presentation will be part slide show of major mushroom groups, mostly pretty pictures with information on how to know what's what. Plus this will be part demo with live specimens for you to handle, smell, and review with experts. Approx. 95 people attended this Lecture/Demo.
- Movie: Know Your Mushrooms (1hr 15min each showing; showed 4 times) The Classic is back! Everyone welcome and a kid-friendly event! Approx. 110 people total attended this movie showing.
Telluride Mushroom Festival Free Programming: Total Attendees = 1,420
Other evidence listed below each individual program description above.
I wanted to reach out and say thank you for your facilitation of our volunteer experience. The event was great, we really enjoyed being a part of it. We booked this trip with the intention of spending some QT mom, daughter time and to spread the ashes of a fellow mushroom hunter, father and significant other. What we gained from the sessions, the fellowship and the volunteer experience will be very fond memories for us both and that was all of you, so a very sincere thank you to you all!
Laura and Tyler - 2019 Mushroom Festival Volunteers
Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Poor, Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent
Young Adults (20-25 years)
The Prospect Basin Fens Project is focused on restoring and assessing the ecosystem health of the fens located in Prospect Basin, outside of Telluride, CO, in the Uncompahgre National Forest.
The ecological restoration component will focus on the ecological restoration of two of the five fens located in Prospect Basin, Spruce and Cottongrass fens. Both Spruce and Cottongrass fens have erosion outlets that are contributing to the lowering of their water tables and therefore negatively impacting the sensitive and unique plant and animal communities which reside in the fens. These fens were created 10,000 years and any loss of biodiversity will result in extinction as they are disjunct ecosystems that will not be repopulated by other nearby fens.
Telluride Institute will partner with True North for the restoration efforts, a local non-profit who works with underserved students in the greater Telluride region. Participants will play an active role in restoring the fens, and better understanding their role in our San Juan Mountain ecosystem and the potential impacts of recreation, restoration and climate change.
The Prospect Basin Fens Project has collected over 20 years of ecological data and conducted a variety of research projects on the fens. Under Telluride Institute the Prospect Basin Fens Project has given five educational tours of the fens to the public and hosted one public presentation. The tours average 6-12 participants and the public presentation was attended by approximately 40 people.