03.27.24

Grantee Spotlight: Cal-Wood Education Center

Nestled in the foothills just north of Jamestown, Colorado, Cal-Wood Education Center has been serving the community since 1982. Guided by their founding vision to inspire a greater appreciation for the natural world, to offer environmental education to those who would not otherwise experience it, and to provide unique educational opportunities in a special mountain setting, Cal-Wood offers a range of outdoor education experiences that connect kids and families to the Colorado mountains.  
 
Their programs include everything from residential science programs for schools to Latino Family camps — from summer camps and high school science summer programs to volunteer opportunities at their 1,200-acre classroom. Cal-Wood prioritizes making all of these programs accessible to economically disadvantaged families, ensuring that all children and families have the opportunity to experience and learn from the natural world.  
 
As a Latino, Cal-Wood's Executive Director Rafael Salgado says he is acutely aware of the importance of making underrepresented communities feel welcome in the natural world. “Since I started working at Cal-Wood in the late '80s, I have witnessed the barriers that prevent people from diverse backgrounds from accessing and enjoying nature,” says Salgado. “That's why I'm deeply committed to prioritizing equity in our programming. It's not just about providing opportunities; it's about creating a sense of belonging and inclusivity where everyone feels valued and can fully engage in our educational offerings and in the outdoors.” 
 
Every year, Cal-Wood serves around 5,000 children, 1,500 adults, and welcomes roughly 7,000 yearly visitors to the education center. And thanks to concerted efforts to welcome in and provide programming for diverse audiences, 40% of the population served by their programs are Latinos and/or people of color. 
 
One such concerted effort is the Latino Family Program which Salgado says is a prime example of Cal-Wood's commitment to prioritizing equity in their programming. “Back in 2014, Community Foundation Boulder County invested in our new Latino Family Program by providing funds to pilot this exciting program,” says Salgado. “Ten years later, we are offering 30 weekend programs here at Cal-Wood, Rocky Mountain National Park, State Parks, winter programs, and water rafting day trips for 1,000 family members. We are also expanding the program to other parts of the state, such as Colorado Springs and Leadville,” Salgado says Cal-Wood aims to build strong and lasting relationships between Latino families and the natural world, empowering them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to explore and appreciate the outdoors. “By fostering a sense of community and belonging, we encourage these families to become advocates for environmental conservation and stewards of the land.” 
 
Learn more about Cal-Wood and their programs at https://www.calwood.org/