Science education and leadership development in Denver, Colorado – Grantee Project Spotlight

“ELK has taught me how important it is to conserve and protect the outdoors because the scenery and the enlightenment of being in nature is something everyone should be able to experience.”
– Nya Wallace (Age 18)

Grantee: Environmental Learning for Kids –Denver, Colorado
Project Title: Denver Youth Naturally (DYN)

Denver Youth Naturally and Leadership Corps (DYN), ELK’s core program for youth ages 5-18, is a year-long, multi-year learning experience that immerses students in science education and leadership development through hands-on field activities, local excursions, and overnight camping experiences. With long-term mentoring by science professionals, DYN participants find the support necessary to succeed in school and discover new doors of opportunity.

Youth experience a safe, mentoring environment in which leadership, community service, and career development are taught through exploration and inquiry-based learning. Students in ELK’s year-round DYN program have a 100% high school graduation rate for the last five years (98% since its founding). In addition, ELK youth go on to make a successful transition to college at a much higher rate than the same demographic in Colorado. ELK has successfully tracked more than 95 of our most recent high school graduates into college and beyond: 58% of these alumni are majoring or working in a STEM-related field, 84% are youth of color, and 42% are female. This success is a direct result of the one-to-one support and long-term mentoring that ELK offers to youth.

ELK alum, Deztani who started in DYN after dropping out of high school her sophomore year, said, “If it wasn’t for ELK I wouldn’t be as motivated to succeed. To me, ELK is a place that makes goals and dreams reality for all the students, a place where we grow and it pushes us to go further in life.” Deztani graduated from high school in 2013 at the top of her class and is currently in her third year of college on a scholarship.

Other ELK youth share their experiences in the DYN program:
“ELK taught me how to be an innovator, facilitator, and a communicator for the great outdoors.” – Rebekah Amaro (Age 17)
“ELK educated me by teaching me about the different Colorado animals. I also grew close to ELK as a team and family.“ – Tyson Keller, (Age 12)