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@cottonwoodinstitute Thrival Kits Help CAP Students Stay Connected to the Natural World!

With schools transitioning to distance learning and students spending (understandably) less time outside, Cottonwood Institute has been faced with the tough question of how to make environmental education accessible and relevant in a time when we can’t do many of the things that normally make up a CAP Class.

Fortunately, their team has quite a few creative thinkers, and together we invented the “Thrival Kit,” a package containing everything CAP students need to build their connection to the natural world from home! Over the past few weeks, more than 50 students from New Vista High SchoolAngevine Middle SchoolCentaurus High School, and Aurora Expeditionary Learning (AXL) Academy have received their Thrival Kits in the mail. Inside they’ll find compasses, craft supplies, seeds and soil, and everything else they need to keep on thriving from home!

Read more…

We will never cease to be amazed by you!

CAP Instructor Erin Assembles Thrival Kits

@sandcreekgreenway is still open!

As long as officials are assuring the safety and advisability of outdoor activities with a social distance; we’ll encourage you to get out to the Greenway on your own, and we’ll have suggestions getting the most out of your visit. We’ll also include online resources we think you’ll enjoy–whether you’re an adult living through this period of isolation alone, or if you’re a parent or a child going stir-crazy during this challenging time.

Highlighted this week is this outdoor sensory scavenger hunt!


Get more great ideas by visiting and signing up for their “On Your Own or at Home” COVID-19 Dispatch Emails!

@volunteersforoutdoorcolorado helps us all find our place in stewardship… while staying at home

During these trying times, team VOC is diligently working to make sure our stewardship community stays strong and connected, and doing the right thing. Here are a few great ideas from their most recent newsletter.

Team VOC says: This won’t last forever, and it will take some getting used to.
But know that we are right there with you!

Maintain safe social distance on trails. If you can’t, stay home or close to it and take the opportunity to discover nature in your own neighborhood, whether it’s bird-watching from your balcony, exploring a local park, or tuning in to your favorite nature webcam.

Be ready to get back to work! All VOC volunteer projects have been cancelled through April to comply with state and federal guidelines and to protect the community from COVID-19. Plans are in the works so that we can be safe and “shovel-ready” when the time is right to resume volunteer projects. Learn more at

Learn something new or hone your skills. Visit the training calendar to sign up for self-paced and informative classes like Trails Overview and Ecological Restoration Overview.

Put your knowledge to work during the City Nature Challenge! VOC and other partners are embracing the healing power of nature and encourage you to join a global collaboration to document biodiversity in whatever way you can, even from the safety of your own home.

Thank you for all that you do, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado!

Inspiring words from The Greenway Foundation

Dear Fellow River Advocates,

Our world has changed. In a matter of days. The way we do business, the way we socialize, the way we take care of our basic needs. All have changed drastically. What has NOT changed is the need for Clean and Safe Rivers, Creeks, and Streams for Everyone.  In fact, that need is greater than ever!


Even in these difficult times, The Greenway Foundation (TGF) is fully committed to continue to be THE lead advocate for these historic and timeless priceless natural resources. With so much uncertainty surrounding us, one thing IS certain –  as the Executive Director at TGF for over 35 years, and as the eldest son of TGF’s Founder, I PERSONALLY pledge to you that:

  • TGF WILL continue to fight for increased water quality and water quantity opportunities for OUR River in Whatever Way Possible.
  • TGF WILL continue to create and deliver award winning environmental education programs for Denver’s children along OUR River in Whatever Way Possible.
  • TGF WILL continue to provide opportunities for our community to engage with OUR River in Whatever Way Possible. 
  • Not only will our longstanding Mission to Revitalize Rivers and Reconnect Communities continue, that Mission will continually increase!

I remind you that OUR RIVER IS OPEN! AND IT IS FREE! Outdoor exercise has been included among “essential activities” as long as participants adhere to the legally mandated safe distance of six feet or more from other parties. So, come to YOUR River!


I absolutely promise you that you will experience peace, joy and inspiration. I have created this outreach as I sit on our 2nd story balcony of our new offices at 1800 Platte St. within the amazing and historic Platte River Rowing Club, looking out directly at OUR River, Commons Park and a beautiful Denver that surrounds them both. I can’t wait until you can join me here!

Be Safe. Be Smart. Be Strong and never forget: Hope Defeats Fear!

@cottonwoodinstitute to the rescue!

Our amazing partners like Cottonwood Institute are pulling together resources and tools to help us all figure out how to navigate this storm:

Feel free to share widely and, if appropriate, tag @cottonwoodinstitute. Keep the good ideas, empathy, creativity, and kindness flowing!

CNDC Office Closure & COVID-19 Response

We wanted to share this message from our fiscal sponsor, the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center, regarding their response to COVID-19. Metro DNA will continue to share guidance, resources, and ideas with our partners and friends as this situation develops and we get CREATIVE and COLLABORATIVE in continuing our important work of connecting people and championing nature.

“As you may have heard, Denver Public Schools and several other institutions have decided to close in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. After careful consideration, we have decided to close CNDC’s office and have staff work remotely effective Monday, 3/16 for at least two weeks. We will re-assess at that time. We are making this decision to support the health of our staff and to minimize disruption in our support of Projects.

It is our intention to provide uninterrupted support to Projects while the office is closed. Although we will not be able to accept forms or checks that are dropped off and we will have limited ability to write paper checks, other services and support should remain the same [including payroll, electronic deposits, fundraising platforms, contracts, etc.]…

I want to acknowledge this is uncharted territory and I am sure there will be glitches. That in combination with a stressful time related to COVID-19 will likely create some frustration. I ask for your patience. Our primary goal is to ensure we can continue to support your important work while maintaining staff health and safety… please let us know if you think we are forgetting something… or see a pending problem. We need your ideas and feedback for how we can better support Projects during these challenging times.

We encourage any Project that has the capacity for remote work to move towards it as soon as possible…

We encourage cancellation of events and minimization of in person meetings…

It is important that you be in contact with your funders. We are reaching to several foundations to gauge flexibility regarding funding restrictions, including how funds are spent and reducing required performance measures. They have been supportive and we will be communicating with you if the ease of restrictions impacts your Project. Let us know if you would like us to reach out to specific foundations on your behalf or if you would like coaching how to do it yourself. Unfortunately, I do not anticipate government funders will be as receptive. 

We will continue to send updates to all employees… Please forward this communication to your board. We are happy to respond to any of their questions or concerns.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and partnership. Most importantly, thank you for your commitment to your community and those you serve. Your work is what motivates all of us at CNDC. We will keep you posted as things evolve…”

Melinda A. Higgs | President & CEO
Colorado Nonprofit Development Center
789 Sherman Street, Suite 250 | Denver, CO 80203

A Partner for Nonprofit Innovation, Efficiency and Accountability

2020 City Nature Challenge

Metro DNA is delighted to be co-hosting the metro region’s City Nature Challenge again this spring with Colorado Parks & Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, Wild Foundation, Denver Audubon, and Denver Botanic Gardens.

Help us show the world how biodiverse our region is by making as many observations of as many species as possible from April 24-27, 2020!

Document nature in your backyard, by your school, in your favorite park or open space area, and upload your observations to iNaturalist, an online platform for citizen scientists. Any observations of plants, animals, and fungus found throughout our boundary will count. Get involved with an existing event or plan one of your own!

For more information, visit .

We are cultivating a Youth Advisory Council for the South Platte River

In collaboration with our partners at El Laboratorio and Lincoln Hills Cares, Metro DNA is co-hosting a youth workshop on December 27 to inform a proposed public art installation crossing the South Platte River at the new National Western Center.

Youth applications are still being accepted! Please download the flier and reach out to Paul Hellmund with El Laboratorio for more information. 

This event marks the beginning of outreach for a South Platte River Youth Advisory Council, supported by and informing this Regional Vision for People + Nature. The initial outline for what this Youth Advisory Council might look like was crafted by the TRIO Upward Bound Summer Program at Colorado State University.

A culturally diverse group of seniors and juniors from Denver Public Schools (Bruce Randolph High School, John F. Kennedy High School, and Abraham Lincoln High School) produced a Sourcebook, making recommendations for how youth and community can come together advocate for the restoration and maintenance of the South Platte River as one of Metro Denver’s key natural and cultural assets.

Here’s to another year of collaboration!

Thank you again for bringing your time, talents, and energy to bear at our Metro DNA Stakeholder Convening yesterday at The Nature Conservancy’s office in Denver! 


Meeting notes, slides, and participant contact information are available online, along with the meeting evaluation and a simple form to contribute any 2019 accomplishments, 2020 priorities, and/or collaborative project ideas that weren’t captured in writing during the meeting. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or edits to the meeting notes. 

Happy holidays, and a very merry new year!