Education Coordinator for
The Telluride Institute
A whiteout of snow did not stop students from Nucla High School and Telluride Mountain School from digging deeper into the topic of mining last week. The Watershed Education Project, a Telluride Institute program, organized a two-day mining unit that allowed both schools to join together in an effort to gain knowledge and insight on mining activities in the San Miguel region.
The first day of the two-day unit was spent at the Telluride Mountain School, where local historian Johnnie Stevens shared his knowledge about the cultural, economic, social and environmental impacts of mining. Telluride Institute Executive Director Ashley Boling was also on hand to discuss the geology of the region.
Despite heavy snow, two busloads of students visited the Idarado Mine, where they were met by Camille Price, of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Bill Lyle, from the Idarado Mining Co., for a tour and further discussion on a broad range of subjects associated with mining.
"I think it was pretty cool because you got to get together with people you didn't know and talk about important topics like mining," said Nucla High School's Amanda Souther.
On the second day, students visited the West End of San Miguel County, and prepared for an afternoon debate. Tom Fry, from the New Horizon Coal Mine in Nucla, accompanied the students on a tour of coal-mining reclamation sites, and then joined the students in the afternoon to assist in their debate. Students from the two schools were mixed into five different interest groups to debate a hypothetical proposition for a new coal mine outside the town of Norwood. The debate was a success, in large part because of the participation of teachers Andy Shoff from Telluride Mountain School and Charlene Stevenson of Nucla High School. Students were enthusiastic, and worked together to formulate strong arguments in favor of their groups.
According to Telluride Mountain School student Ciara Green: "I thought it was cool that we got to work with another school and go places you wouldn't normally go. It was neat!"
As the day came to an end, the Nucla and Mountain School students said goodbye, making plans to reconnect in the future. "The kids really enjoyed the debate aspect," said Andy Shoff, the dean of studies at the Telluride Mountain School, which served as vanguard for the project. "They were fascinated to learn about the different histories between the Nucla and Telluride comminutes, but that they share the common threads of mining and the watershed.
"The students truly enjoyed the camaraderie of working together to explore these issues."
The mining unit, one of many that the Telluride Institute's Watershed Education Project has implemented this fall within the watershed involving students from the Telluride School District, the Mountain School, the Paradox Charter School, and the Nucla School District, was an overall success in the eyes of students, teachers and of the Telluride Institute.
The mission of the Watershed Education Project is to work locally, informing and inspiring regional citizens to become stewards of the land.
Developing an awareness of the interconnected elements that contribute to the health of the San Miguel watershed is essential if we are to care for and protect our surroundings. More educational units are planned for the winter and spring providing a refreshing educational option for our local schools.
For more information on the Telluride Institute and Watershed Education Project please contact 970/728-8312.