Generation Wild establishes places for kids and families to connect with the outdoors

New program provides outdoor experiences for youth from New Castle to Parachute

August 14, 2018

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. – Appreciation and care of Colorado’s great outdoors are essential for Coloradans’ high quality of life to endure. That is why Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) created the Inspire Initiative, which establishes places for kids and their families to play and connect with the outdoors; creates programs that activate those places; and promotes pathways to outdoor stewardship and leadership roles. In 2017, GOCO launched a social change movement replacing the Inspire Initiative called Generation Wild.

Dana Wood, public health specialist with Garfield County Public Health, said local coalitions throughout the state are working to bring Generation Wild projects to life, using community and youth-led, collaborative approaches.

“We want to create equitable access to the outdoors for everyone in our community, no matter where you live, or the resources you may or may not have,” she said. “You may have noticed the Generation Wild logos drawn in chalk in front of your local library, or had a list of ‘100 things to do before you’re 12’ come home in your students’ school backpack. Garfield County is part of a growing movement to get kids outside and enjoying our surroundings.”

The Generation Wild framework is being looked to as a national model, and each coalition’s approach serves as examples to other rural, urban, suburban, or mountain communities across the country. The project provides a wide range of new outdoor experiences targeted at western Garfield County.

“We will have this funding until June 2021, and we want to get the word out about the incredible opportunities that this funding is bringing to our youth from New Castle to Parachute,” Wood said.

Garfield County Generation Wild programs:

  • Garfield County School District 16 in Parachute/Battlement Mesa and Garfield Re-2 in Rifle, Silt, and New Castle, are serving as programming hubs, so students of all age groups and experience levels are connected to free outdoor and environmental education programs.
  • Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) is providing hands-on outdoor education in elementary school classrooms.
  • CSU Extension/4-H School Enrichment and After-School Program is providing science and outdoor education curriculum opportunities.
  • Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) is teaching wilderness skills to elementary school students.
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is offering expeditionary learning experiences on the Colorado River.
  • The Buddy Program is offering outdoor leadership expeditions at Rifle Middle School and Rifle High School.
  • Colorado Mountain College (CMC) is providing rock climbing programs at Rifle Mountain Park.

Youth jobs and leadership opportunities:
Generation Wild offers programs that provide pathways to future careers in the outdoors. These include:

  • Rocky Mountain Youth Corps Community Development crew: paid jobs; service-learning experiences.
  • ACES, Fat City Farmers and RFOV partnership: gardening stewardship, nature exploration, and trail building paid internships.
  • Paid leadership training through CSU Extension/4H on gear library management

Nature-based play spaces:

  • Outdoor classroom at Bea Underwood Elementary School in Parachute.
  • Greenhouse and nature trail at Grand Valley Middle School in Parachute.

Outdoor gear-lending libraries (starting in 2019):

  • Various locations in Garfield School District 16
  • Garfield County Fairgrounds, Rifle
  • New Castle Community Center

For more information on Generation Wild in Garfield County, please contact Meredith Burke, Generation Wild hub coordinator, at

Garfield Healthy Communities Coalition