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Rockies Project Nets $385,000 Grant for Poll, Student Engagement

Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project has been awarded a $385,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. 

A large portion of the one-year grant (approximately $269,000) will be used for the 2022 Conservation in the West Poll, the results of which will be added to the project’s 11-year set of data. The bipartisan poll surveys the views of voters regarding issues such as the conservation of public lands, energy, water, wildlife, wildfire, and other challenges in eight Mountain West states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

Results of the 2022 Conservation in the West Poll will be released during a public forum in early 2022. Conservation advocacy groups, journalists, and the general public highly anticipate the release of the annual results.  The survey is a nationally recognized and an often-cited resource used by policy makers, scientists, scholars, students, and the general public. CC has increasingly integrated the polling data into its programming, spurring students to engage with the longitudinal data on their thesis or capstone projects while examining conservation issues in various interdisciplinary ways.

“We are thrilled to receive our twelfth year of funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation,” says Kat Miller-Stevens, director of the State of the Rockies Project and associate professor of economics and business. “This year is especially notable with increased funding for student engagement activities and projects.”

The Hewlett grant includes $48,550 for programming that focuses on engaging students from various disciplines in creative ways with the Conservation in the West Poll results. In coordination with Miller-Stevens and Project Specialist Cyndy Hines, the student engagement funding will be used for the following cross-disciplinary projects:

  • A survey of public land visitors: The State of the Rockies Project will work with CC’s OutdoorEducation Department and  Journalism Institute to send three students to survey (using Conservation in the West Poll-based questions) the three or four most popular national parks, forests, monuments in the Rocky Mountain West. The objective is to engage CC students and incorporate their research findings into the poll, allowing the students to create their own questions to be included in the 2023 Conservation in the West Poll. 
  • A student photo contest: The State of the Rockies has conducted photo contests over the past several years, and plans to do so again. Funds will be designated for prizes, with photo entries being judged by the level of exploration and interpretation of conservation issues identified by the Conservation in the West Poll’s results.
  • Vintage-style (1930s) promotional posters: The Federal Art Act of 1937 helped promote tourism at newly created National Parks; CC students will create vintage-style posters with contemporary conservation/environment “mottos.” The project includes collaborating with the CC Art Department to print the posters and the Pioneers Museum of Colorado Springs to display the students’ letterpress promotional posters.
  • Dark Skies: In collaboration with CC’s Physics and Anthropology departments and the Office of Sustainability, students will research Dark Skies initiatives and policies of the region. The project also will examine the eco-environmental impact of too much light during the dark hours. A survey of community members’ attitudes toward the Dark Skies initiative around campus, Colorado Springs, and other Dark Skies communities will help determine if this is a conservation concern and if so, whether questions such as these should be included in the 2023 Conservation in the West Poll and whether this might be a consideration for policy-making. 
  • Rockies/Journalism Institute collaboration: The digital journalistic magazine, Anthropocene, will feature student-faculty collaborative research in digital print with links to video, audio, and other formats to reach a broad range of local, regional, national, and global audiences. Run by State of the Rockies  students, they will invite other students from regional colleges and universities to submit their student-faculty journalism, other digital media projects, art, film, etc. to build on regional State of the Rockies connections and collaborative opportunities across the region.
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