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Thorne Ecological Institute

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PO Box 19107 Boulder CO 80308 USA


Thorne Ecological Institute builds Earth stewardship by connecting kids to nature through hands-on environmental education experiences. Founded in 1954 by Dr. Oakleigh Thorne II, Thorne has been instrumental in the environmental education field. During its five decades of teaching ecological principles to adults and children, the Institute has influenced over 160,000 people by giving them a better understanding of their environment. Thorne Ecological Institute provides natural science education through its various programs to more than 8,000 students annually.


Thorne Natural Science School (TNSS) is celebrating 50 years and is our flagship program. Students ages 3-15 explore natural areas through 5 day field courses. This program operates in Boulder and Littleton. Project BEAR (Building Environmental Awareness and Respect) is Thorne's outreach program serving elementary schools in 7 school districts along the Front Range. Students enjoy three classroom visits by Thorne's BEAR instructors and culminate their experience by writing an ebook - a student-authored non-fiction text using photographs from their programs. The Sombrero Marsh Environmental Education Center was created in 1999, through a Partnership with the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks Department (OSMP) and the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD). Through this Partnership, Thorne provides teacher training workshops and environmental education classes on Wetland Ecology for over 1,000 BVSD students. The Waterton Canyon Environmental Education Center was created in 1995 through a Partnership with Denver Water. Through this Partnership, Thorne provides field courses for over 500 Denver, Douglas, Littleton and Jefferson County students.

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