Loveland Seeks Volunteers for Environmental Education Program – Loveland Reporter-Herald

The City of Loveland’s environmental education program had record-breaking attendance last spring, with more than 1,000 elementary school students attending classes on local flora and fauna.

Now the Open Lands and Trails department is trying to move up the ranks of volunteers for classes in the upcoming Fall class. Free training for student sessions starting in late September is currently underway.

“Our first full season back from the pandemic was in the spring of 2022 and it was really good,” said Michele Van Hare, education coordinator. “At our school, we were like, ‘We had a lot of cancellations, but we’ll come anyway,’ but it was snowing. We want a lot out there.”

There are three different programs, each aimed at different age groups.

Namaqua Park’s “Critter Scene Investigation” introduces the youngest students (pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade) to the mysteries of local wildlife and collects clues to solve them. This fall, students will examine The Feather Puff Incident to find out how a pile of bird feathers ended up in an unexpected place. In the spring, students worked on the “cracked eggshell case.”

River’s Edge Natural Area’s “Plants and Places” is for grades 2-4 and explores local foliage, starting with Colorado’s stalwart cottonwood. This class also discusses native and invasive species and examines the different ways seeds disperse.

“Our Canyons and Their Wildlife – Energy Through the Biosphere” is a one-day class at Biestenz Smith Mountain Park for older students through 6th grade. In her five sessions of up to 45 minutes, students learn about animal adaptation, wildlife management and degradation.

“Kids will gravitate to anything they can touch—fur, teeth, feathers,” says Van Hare. “I always try to have lots of opportunities for interaction and touch.”

In anticipation of the upcoming busy season, Van Hare would like to recruit new volunteers for all three classes. The sessions are free and no prior expertise in biology, ecology, or botany is required.

“They have manuals and as much support as they need,” she said. “Also, in programs for older children, new volunteers are paired with more experienced volunteers until they get used to it.”

Van Hare also hopes to recruit more teachers to the program. This, she said, is perfect for fall excursions, especially with the weather in mind. She urged anyone interested to ask Larissa Clark, her coordinator of the science curriculum at the Thompson School, for more information. She also added that the Loveland Parks Foundation can provide transportation to help with the bus costs.

Training continues this week on Tuesday and Thursday. Additional training sessions are scheduled for him in September. For more information on volunteering for Loveland Open Land and Trails, visit

LOVELAND, Colorado - August 22, 2022: Michele Van Gere (Center), Open Lands and Trails Environmental Education and Volunteer Coordinator in the City of Loveland, while training how to run a critter on Monday, August 22, 2022. , talk to the volunteer at the Raccoon Station. A study program from kindergarten through her sophomore year at Loveland's Namaqua Park. From left to right, Clara Komar, Eldon Grimm and Linda Marhsall.  (Jenny Sparks/Loveland Reporter Herald)
Michele Van Hare, Center, Environmental Education and Volunteer Coordinator for the City of Loveland’s Open Lands and Trails, speaks with volunteers at the raccoon station and runs a K-2 grade animal scene research program at Loveland’s Namaqua Park on Monday. training how to From left to right, Clara Komar, Eldon Grimm and Linda Marshall. (Jenny Sparks/Loveland Reporter Herald)

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