Browns Canyon Celebration

Chris and Hickenlooper

Written by ELK Media Specialist Intern, Kaitlyn Kraybill-Voth

On Saturday July 18th, ELK students traveled to Buena Vista, Colorado to take part in the festivities commemorating the hard won designation of Browns Canyon National Monument. The students started the day with an invigorating hike alongside Sierra Club and Hispanic Access Foundation members. ELK youth Isa Urias even went on an exclusive overnight camping expedition that rafted the canyon’s famous rapids with State and national policy leaders including Governor John Hickenlooper, Senator Michael Bennet, and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

Right in the fray of these community movers and shakers, ELK’s new Executive Director Loretta Piñeda and Urban Ranger Chris Urias gave riveting speeches on ELK youth’s commitment to stewarding our National Parks. Their heartfelt candor made ELK proud and brought faces to the movement to get youth of color outdoors.

“We don’t inherit land from our ancestors, we borrow it for our children.” This sentiment reverberated throughout the event. The ELK students who had rafted, hiked, and camped in the area prior to its monument status did a fantastic job representing the power and responsibility youth have in protecting the nation’s wild areas for generations to come.

As the speakers wrapped up, one audience member approached an ELK student to shake her hand and said, “I wanted to shake your hand because you might be governor or a senator or the president one day.”