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Thorne Ecological Institute

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Environment, Environmental Education, Primary & Elementary Schools

Mission: Thorne's mission is to build earth stewardship by connecting youth to nature through joyful, hands-on, place-based environmental education experiences.

Programs: Thorne accomplishes its mission through three unique programs: summer camp - established in 1957, thorne summer camp in boulder and littleton reaches 1,800 youth each summer through field-based "camp experiences" for kids ages 3-15. Learning takes place through hands-on, science-based, experiential activities. Popular camps like, mud mucking, at home in the woods, and bird banding utilize local prairie grasslands, evergreen forests, and wetland habitats as a classroom and enable youth to connect with and learn about nature. To ensure that no child is ever turned away from participating due to financial need, thorne awards 100,000 (25% of sales) in scholarships annually. Field trip program - created in 1999 through a partnership with the city of boulder open space and mountain parks department and the boulder valley school district (bvsd), the field trip program engages 1,700 bvsd fourth graders annually in a day-long field trip to the 45-acre sombrero marsh environmental education center. At the marsh, students learn about wetland ecology while hiking on boardwalks, viewing birds from a bird blind, and undertaking experiments in a laboratory. The marsh is also home to a 30 ft. Wind turbine, organic gardens, and a photovoltaic solar system which are used as educational tools to demonstrate the concept of conserving natural resources as a means of protecting the environment. In addition to serving 4th grade bvsd students at sombrero marsh, thorne also offers field trips to other bvsd grade levels and non bvsd schools and youth-serving organizations at both its boulder and littleton locations. In-school program - initiated in 2005, thorne's in-school program reaches 8,000 elementary students each year. The in-school program expands students' knowledge in the areas of science and literacy through a three class series of lessons that involve interactive explorations, inquiry- based experiments, scientific instruments and specimens, and writing a picture book. Emphasis is placed on working with schools neighboring thorne's environmental education centers and low-income, low-scoring, and culturally diverse schools throughout the denver and boulder metro area. At select schools with very high percentages of disadvantaged youth, thorne offers an additional twelve week after school program for students who are interested in expanding their knowledge of science and connection to nature.

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