Announcements

Partner Highlight: Denver Zoo

denver zoo logo featuring a male lion

Working to Conserve Local Wildlife with Ongoing Conservation Projects

Bison roaming freely, pikas popping up every so often, and billowing grass. This is just part of the Colorado Front Range, an ecosystem within a few hours’ drive for the average Denverite. The Denver Zoo’s Field Conservation Department works with government and non-profit organizations and the community to preserve spaces for people and wildlife. 

Stephanie Stowell, Vice President of Learning and Engagement at the Denver Zoo, explains that, “Underneath it all, we are a conservation and education organization” with a goal to “engage and inspire people to have a deeper sense and understanding and care and empathy for animals”. 

While the Denver Zoo’s Field Conservation Department has staff working in places such as Peru, Mongolia, and Botswana, it also has active conservation teams in right here in Colorado. One of the two local conservation efforts is the Front Range Program, which encompasses the Eastern slope of the Southern Rocky Mountains and the neighboring grasslands, including Denver. Through local engagement the Denver Zoo is able to show citizens the impact this has on the region. 

The Denver Zoo’s Field Conservation Department works with city, state, and federal organizations to “reduce threats and promote the resilience of Colorado’s wildlife and ecosystems”. The Front Range Project aims to “conserve and restore the function of grassland ecosystems across the state” through restoration and management of bison populations and habitats, monitoring, and supporting the development of Colorado’s highest elevation wildlife byway.

A vital aspect of these conservation projects is to get community members involved, so the Denver Zoo works with local organizations to train citizens to take an active role in monitoring nature along the Front Range. So far, the Front Range Project has engaged 300 middle and high school students in programming and contributed to the longest running citizen science database. With its continued work, the Denver Zoo encourages everyone to care about the nature that surrounds them every day. Next time you are at the Denver Zoo, remember the role it has in conserving local nature. 

The Denver Zoo partners with Metro DNA as a way to further bring conservation and nature access to communities, giving local relevance to the Denver Zoo’s global mission to “secure a better world for animals through human understanding”. 

photo of stephanie stowell and an orangutan at denver zoo

On a personal note, we wish our long-standing leader and dear friend, Stephanie Stowell, the best as she and her husband relocate to Albuquerque, New Mexico. She will be overseeing zoo operations and programs at the Albuquerque BioPark.

Thank you, congratulations, and we will miss you!!

Stakeholder Convening Summary

Metro DNA Stakeholder WorkshopThank you to Metro DNA partner, the Denver Botanic Gardens, for hosting our Stakeholder Convening on Monday, April 8, and thank you to everyone who participated in a full day of workshops, presentations, and collaboration! This semi-annual gathering is an opportunity for partners and friends to get together and network, learn, and co-create collaborative projects.

We started the day in collaboration with the University of Denver’s Grand Challenges Environmental Sustainability Cohort by exploring collaborative projects around the Metro Denver region to ground and expand their understanding of what is being done, what can be done, and how to measure our collective impact and progress toward shared goals.

Next, Dr. Jennifer Neale, Director of Research & Conservation at the Gardens, shared current projects including the Colorado Mycoflora Project, seed collection efforts, and BioBlitzes on the Highline Canal.

After lunch, the meeting turned toward updates and dialog around our primary collaborative projects: Regional Vision for People + Nature and Nature Narratives. Table-based dialog was facilitated by CU Boulder graduate students and members of the Metro DNA Steering Committee. Many of the ideas, questions, and opportunities shared cut across both projects. The conversations also surfaced needs to better define and communicate expectations of and benefits of becoming a Metro DNA partner and serving on committees and project teams.

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Safe Summer Kick Off on Get Outdoors Day

June 8th at Garfield Lake Park in SouthWest Denver

Get Outdoors Day Colorado and SouthWest Denver Coalition are joining forces to host Safe Summer Kick Off on Get Outdoors Day (SSKO GO), Saturday, June 8, 2019, at Garfield Lake Park from 10am to 3pm. This free, family-friendly event is designed to promote access to healthy and safe outdoor spaces, support under-resourced communities, and celebrate nature exploration.Safe Summer Kick Off on Get Outdoors DayAn exciting coming together of two long-time successful events, this partnership facilitated by the Metro Denver Nature Alliance seeks to strengthen connections between resource providers and the communities they serve; promote healthy, active, outdoor lifestyles; and reflect and celebrate the diversity of people and nature in our region.

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April 8 – Denver Botanic Gardens hosts the next Metro DNA Convening

Metro DNA’s semi-annual Stakeholder Convening is an opportunity for partners and friends to get together and network, learn, and co-create collaborative projects. At this gathering we:

  • Invite partners to join in the co-creation of a Regional Vision for People + Nature.
  • Offer opportunities to engage effectively in the upcoming City Nature Challenge.
  • Empower partners to share their work, learn from others, and dream big toward new collaborative projects.

Agenda

  • 9:00 – 11:00 am . Sustainability World Cafe
    Part of the University of Denver’s Grand Challenges work, the Environmental Sustainability Cohort invites you to participate in a World Cafe style exploration of collaborative projects around the Metro Denver region to ground and expand their understanding of what is being done, what can be done, and how to measure our collective impact and progress toward shared goals.
  • 11:00 am – 12:30 pm . Guided Tours of the Denver Botanic Gardens 
    Our event host, the Denver Botanic Gardens, invites you to explore the Gardens with their skilled docents. Tour groups of 15 will be departing at 11:00 am and 11:15 am.
  • 12:30 – 1:00 pm . Metro DNA Overview + Orientation
    New and potential partners are invited to this brief Metro DNA Overview + Orientation. Current partners are also welcome and we encourage you to share your experiences with others.
  • 1:00 – 4:00 pm . Metro DNA Convening & Working Session
    Facilitated dialog around Metro DNA’s current collaborative projects including the Regional Vision for People + Nature, Nature Narratives, STEW-MAP, and City Nature Challenge. Exploration of potential collaborative projects and next steps!

Learn more and RSVP @ https://www.eventbrite.com/e/metro-dna-convening-tickets-58756749018.

Front Range Open Space Research Symposium

We’ll be there, and think this kind of dialog is just what we need to inform a people-oriented and knowledge-based Regional Vision for People + Nature! 🙂 Dana

Jefferson County Open Space Logo

Jefferson County Open Space will host the second Front Range Open Space Research Symposium in partnership with Boulder County Parks and Open Space and City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks.

The intent of the Symposium is to help inspire coordination, collaboration, and partnership among scientists and the community. During this event, participants will hear presentations by scientists who have conducted research across the Jefferson County, Boulder County, and City of Boulder open space systems on important land management topics including recreation impacts, flora and fauna surveys, conservation, and riparian biodiversity and restoration.

The Symposium will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 19 in the Lakewood Cultural Center. Attendance and parking are free. Parking is limited so carpooling is recommended. You are also encouraged to bring your own reusable coffee cup and/or water bottle to reduce waste.

You can register at this link: https://tinyurl.com/y3kjshz8

Please join us for the next Metro DNA Stakeholder Convening!

We are so excited to celebrate progress building and envision next steps for this tremendous collaboration! Please join us at The Alliance Center next Friday for an afternoon and evening full of programming and partners. Please feel free to come for as long or as short a time as you are able and inspired. Thanks in advance for your RSVP using the Eventbrite links below.

Fri, Dec 7 @ The Alliance Center, 12:30 – 5:00 PM

Metro DNA’s semi-annual Stakeholder Convening is an opportunity for partners and friends to get together and network, learn, and co-create collaborative projects. At this gathering we are:

  • Celebrating progress on and envisioning next steps for our first two collaborative projects, Nature Narratives and the Regional Vision for People + Nature;
  • Workshopping Metro DNA’s Equity Principles, a statement of our shared commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion that will help shape the character and direction of our alliance; and
  • Re-committing to partnership and leadership that will keep our work together thriving in 2019 and for years to come!

Fri, Dec 7 @ The Alliance Center, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Let the networking and collaboration continue as we join manos with the Americas Latino Eco Festival VI for a Green Latinos Tapas + Learn! 

The Americas Latino Eco Festival (ALEF) is a Latino-hosted multicultural gathering elevating the voices of communities of color, women in conservation, and cultural leadership by fostering collaboration to better tackle environmental problems from many angles. With programming spanning Thursday, Dec 6 through Sunday, Dec 9 ALEF VI is bringing together artists, environmental leaders, community members, students, and families to connect, learn, and build relationships.

Who gets to thrive? A Metro DNA founding story.

The Spring 2018 issue of the University of Denver Magazine featured Metro DNA as one of several forward-looking sustainability solutions with which DU faculty and students have been engaged.

Susan Daggett, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute and recipient of the 2018 National Wildlife Federation’s Maggie Fox Award for women’s conservation leadership, began the conversations founding Metro DNA at their annual conference in 2014 when she co-hosted, with the Metropolitan Greenspaces Alliance, a featured track on Conservation in Metropolitan Regions and weekend workshop to envision local collective impact opportunities. Since then, Professor Daggett and other faculty and students have played a crucial role in supporting the alliance’s development, as well as continuing conversations advancing urban social-ecological research in Metro Denver through Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning (CCESL) fellowships and class projects from geography to law.

Issues of sustainability and diversity go hand in hand. Faculty and students are working on solutions.

Metro DNA welcomes our new Alliance Director!

Metro DNA welcomes our new Alliance Director!

The Metro Denver Nature Alliance Steering Committee is pleased to announce Dana Coelho, as our new – and first – Alliance Director!

After an extensive national search we are so excited that Dana has decided to step into this role.  We all feel Dana is the perfect person to lead us through this crucial time for Metro DNA and our community. Please see Dana’s letter to us all below.

–  Metro DNA Steering Committee

 

Dear Collaborators,

It is my sincere pleasure to have been selected for this leadership adventure, working alongside some of my most-respected and creative colleagues to continue our evolution toward a region that is a thriving place for people and nature.

Having served on the Metro DNA Steering Committee for the past two years as a representative from the US Forest Service, I am committed to activating our small but mighty organization’s potential to connect, champion, and build capacity among the region’s many capable nature-based partners.

My most recent experience with the US Forest Service has been as Urban & Community Forestry Program Manager for the Rocky Mountain Region. In that capacity I worked alongside five state coordinators from CO, WY, SD, NE, and KS to build vibrant local community forestry programs. On a broader scale, I co-led the Western Urban & Community Forestry Network, co-founded the Denver Urban Field Station, and actively participated in the National Urban Technology & Science Delivery Team. These coalitions co-created products such as the Green Infrastructure in the West publication, the Urban Forest Connections webinar series, and the Vibrant Cities Lab, all freely available resources for conservation practitioners and allied professionals.

Closer to home, I am proud and humbled to have been part of the creation and continued development of Promotores Verdes and United Cultures for Arts + Nature, two partnership programs of Americas for Conservation + the Arts born out of the Metro Denver Latino community’s interests and needs surrounding nature, health, arts, and culture.

As I reflect on what I’ve learned over the past few years and throughout my 18-year career as a sustainability student and practitioner, I am fundamentally drawn to complexity – the dynamic and interconnected nature of the social, biological, and physical world we live in – and equity – the rights that each of us have to health, prosperity, and the opportunity to engage in decisions affecting our lives and our communities. This is precisely the lens that Metro DNA brings to regional conservation.

What we are doing as the Metro Denver Nature Alliance is not new, but it is radical. Our work is motivated by the belief that a coordinated alliance can achieve more than the sum of its parts: as partners jointly consider the intersections among key regional issues, we can develop and implement more equitable, effective, and sustainable solutions.

What we are doing is also place-based, but it is not place-bound. I am immensely thankful for our colleagues working in the US and abroad to affect real change in our urban and community ecosystems, especially the pioneering work of Chicago Wilderness, the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, and the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee; the successful alliance models provided by the Portland Intertwine and LA’s Amigos de los Rios; and the connectivity provided through the Urban Waters Partnership, Biophillic Cities Network, and Network for Landscape Conservation.

We are all in this together, so let’s keep moving forward, learning, and co-creating the future we most want, need, and deserve.

With humility,
Dana Coelho

Nature Narratives – Share Your Organization’s Story!

Nature Narratives – Share Your Organization’s Story!

We invite you to participate in Nature Narratives – Metro DNA’s inaugural collective storytelling project. This collaborative project provides an exciting opportunity for partner organizations to elevate our work and the ways we are promoting healthier people, communities, and natural places in metro Denver. Nature Narratives also will help us define a shared story of our ongoing efforts to make the metro Denver region a thriving place for people and for nature.

Project goals are to:
▪ Elevate the unique and complementary work of organizations across metro Denver
▪ Highlight diverse definitions of nature and ways of engaging with nature
▪ Foster connections among partner organizations
▪ Start to define diverse values of nature to ultimately build toward a shared regional vision of people and nature

As facilitator, capacity builder, and champion, Metro DNA will provide several types of support to help partner organizations develop, articulate, and share their narratives through audio, video, photography, or other formats. This support will include training sessions, direct staff support, and marketing.
All Metro DNA partners are invited to participate in Nature Narratives. Metro DNA will host three trainings in June (more details forthcoming). In the meantime, please contact Chris Hawkins (cmhawkins@tnc.org) or Jessica Godinez (jessicagodinez@fs.fed.us) if you have questions.

Nature Narratives – Thank you! And, finally, a huge THANK YOU to our partners! Over the past six months, many of you have participated in thoughtful and productive conversations that led to the development of Nature Narratives. Your excellent ideas and input have truly brought this collaborative storytelling project to life.