Monday, March 12, 2018

Informing the Public on Local Topics

    As a conservation association, it's part of the mission of the organization to bring people together and to strengthen the community around your local environment. Not only should the organization work on specific issues, but should be a place to learn more information about the environment and the places they protect as well. My job this past week has been to put together some informational paragraphs that HCCA can use in their newsletters, emails, and outreach materials. The topics I've been researching include land use designations, the tracking of environmental legislation and the navigation of NEPA and the ESI, the current state of our snow pack, drought in the Colorado River Basin, and trends in earlier runoff (tied to climate and other influences). These topics are extremely important this year, as we experience high winter temperatures and a very low snowfall year.
    Although I strive to keep a continuous flow of knowledge about local issues or topics connected to them, I had to research quite a bit of information. A couple of these topics stood out for different reasons. One of the biggest pieces of information I have learned since moving to Colorado has been about land designations and their uses. I had never visited a wilderness area before and although I knew about them, I had never experienced their (mostly) untouched beauty. Since I like to get out there as much as I can, I was quick to learn about all of these different areas and what they're used for. This one was easy to describe and write about because it's something that I've looked into a lot. Tracking environmental legislation and navigating NEPA and the ESI was something I didn't know much about. I knew a couple of databases and sites that were good for tracking environmental legislation, but I was a foreigner when it came to NEPA and ESI. Drought in the Colorado River Basin was tricky because I knew of the effect of drought in Wisconsin on its flat, agricultural lands. With this topic, however, I had to learn how it affects mountainous regions. This topic is especially relevant because of our low snow year and the worries for the dryer seasons to come.
    Overall, informing the public about different topics can really help to grow a community. In HCCA's case, it helps keep our community get involved in local issues or gets them thinking about topics they may not have thought of before.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

New and Exciting Things Ahead

    Now that the biggest event of my semester and of HCCA's year is over, I can focus on what I've been most excited for during this internship: working on outreach material for HCCA's newsletters, website, emails, and action alerts and connecting Western with HCCA. Although I'm not working on any current projects, I'll let you all know what is in the works for the near future. First, I have a list of prompts from the outreach director to be used to write small blips of information to get our members and beyond pumped about local conservation, protection, and politics. This includes tactics on how to get involved, information to teach our community something new, or just inspiring words to get our members and beyond into action. Second, I have a service learning project for my ENVS 350 course this semester. I want to do something related with local politics as we are engaging the ENVS 100 students in this project and I think it would be a great idea to expose them to local politics firsthand. The outreach director suggested planning and hosting a watershed management planning meeting as this is something that HCCA has in the works for this upcoming year too. Third, I am tasked with finding ways to connect HCCA with Western students in any way I can come up with. At this point I've only thought of tabling at events or combining efforts with existing organizations and groups on campus to put on events or support causes.
    There are lot's of great things coming up for the rest of the semester. I'm definitely excited to see what I can accomplish. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Annual Red Lady Salvation Ball Event!

    This past week was all about the last few preparations for the Ball. I spent the majority of my nights this week creating information sheets about each silent auction prize as well as a bid sheet to accompany them. This was a lot of going back and forth between emails and word documents, finding pictures off of websites, creating descriptions for each prize, and making sure I was listing all of the monetary values correctly. In the end they turned out awesome! A lot of people were pumped about the silent auction prizes, so I'm glad all my help with solicitations was worth it!
    Saturday was the day of the Ball. I met with my internship supervisor, Mel, in the morning to go over the detail of the event later that day. This would help me know what to do and allow me to help other volunteers know what to do too. We then loaded all of the decorations, signs, tables, and such into the car and headed over. Decorating went smoothly. We had 5 people total helping to decorate the entire interior and doorway of The Eldo. Although I originally thought that 5 people was going to be too little of an amount, decorating went smoothly. We covered the inside and the doorway with every red material we had; we even swapped out the white light bulbs for red!
    I was set at the door checking the ticket list, selling tickets, and putting on wristbands. I had no idea how crazy people would dress up for this event! Old prom dresses, red costumes like morph-suits or long suits and top hats, masks, makeup, you name it! The guests attending went all out! Eventually I went to the raffle table and sold raffle tickets and band merchandise. For the rest of the evening I went back and forth between those two stations, helping out where ever I could.
    Although I haven't heard the final total on how many guests attended or what the final total of money raised was, it looked like a good turnout. We didn't come as close to selling out as we wanted, but the silent auction and the raffle sales seemed to go really well! In the end, learning all about setting up a fundraising event that was more than just a regular fundraising event has been a great experience.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Final Red Lady Salvation Ball Week!

    It's the week of the Ball! That means closing up on all things donations and starting prep for the event itself. I learned a lot from soliciting donations, but it's definitely not something I would want to do all day. My tasks this past week and this upcoming week have been/are writing thank you's to all of our awesome community businesses or members who donated to the silent auction and raffle, creating info sheets for the prizes, and creating bidding sheets for the silent auction.
    It has been fun to go through this process and gain the experience of how this all works. I remember riding around in the car with my mom while she solicited donations for our boy scout troop in the town where I'm from. Seeing this process and going through this process are definitely two completely different things. As I see myself paying more attention to what jobs I want in the future, I believe that any experience I can gain from any type of organization, business, group, etc. is beneficial. I will be able to apply these experiences to different situations I am faced with in the future. As far as soliciting donations goes, I know that if put in this same position again I'll know exactly what to do.
    As always, the Red Lady Salvation Ball is THIS SATURDAY, February 17th, starting at 7:30pm at the Eldo in Crested Butte. Tickets are being sold all week. You know you want to put on your favorite red clothes, hang out with some fun community members, win or bid on some awesome prizes, jam out to the funk of The Pimps of Joytime, and especially help support your local HCCA working to keep Red Lady mine free!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Donation Solicitation Round #3

    I was hoping this past week would be the end of it. Too many business owners were out of town or too busy all week in order to close it off completely. It's not an awful process, but it's not an incredibly fun process either. This process is a great way to raise money for  HCCA and so I am committed to it until the end! This past week of solicitations went very well. I was able to get confirmations from businesses, pick up a couple of donations, and be able to start checking solicitation related items off of my to-do list. On top of that, posters were hung around town and on campus. Slowly but surely things are coming together.
    Sometimes when working for a cause centered around the environment, you don't always see results right away. That can be a little deflating especially when you're putting a lot of work into it. While fundraisers don't seem like a huge step in the process, they are extremely important in facilitating the work done for the cause. These indirectly affecting steps in the problem-solution process can be the most rewarding psychologically. You see results right away, whether that's via the physical donations, the money made on them, or just the support of the community and the people that show up.
    So long story short, I did wish this past week would have been the last week of soliciting. However, I will admit that the physical, psychological, and emotional rewards do feel pretty good. I know I'm helping to help a great organization doing some great things and that within itself feels the greatest overall.
    As always...the Red Lady Salvation Ball is February 17th, starting @ 7:30 in The Eldo. Come dressed in your favorite casual or classy red attire and enjoy great music, great prizes, great food and drink, and great company. Or in other words, come feed your physical, psychological, and emotional needs with this direct link to supporting HCCA!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Donation Solicitation Round #2

     Preparations for the Red Lady Salvation Ball are still underway. This week was the second of 3 weeks of soliciting donations from Gunnison and Crested Butte. Last week I hit Gunnison and this week I hit Crested Butte.I have also been emailing resorts/inns outside of our valley as well. This coming week is the week to follow up on any businesses I haven't heard from yet. I honestly didn't know how much I was going to have to keep track of during this process.
    I got a lot of good initial response this past week in Crested Butte as I did in Gunnison the week before, but haven't been getting any many final responses. I can officially say that three businesses have officially said they would donate. As great as that is, this upcoming week is the last week to officially commit to donating. I'm getting a little nervous my list of donation will remain short. Now I know the people handling the forms I dropped off own businesses and have busy lives, I'm not putting them down for that at all, I'm just excited to see what my work around our valley can bring in for HCCA during the Ball's silent auction and raffle.
    As this week finishes up, I'm preparing for the followups, phone calls, and emails I will have to send this upcoming week in order to finalize the donation list for the event in time. I am excited to see my work pay off and to see this community come together around saving the places in this valley that we love!
    Don't forget, The Red Lady Salvation Ball is on February 17th @ 7:30pm in The Eldo in Crested Butte! Wear your favorite casual or dressy red attire, come enjoy beverages and h'orderves, listen to some great music, and spend some time with your fellow valley goers to help keep Red Lady free!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Intro to HCCA Internship & Solicitation Intimidation Overcome by Our Strong Community

     It's week one of my internship with the High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA). A really quick backstory for those of you that don't know HCCA. Crested Butte's mayor, W. Mitchell, 40 years ago and a group of citizens and locals went full force against a mining company that was trying to mine Red Lady (Mt. Emmons) for molybdenum (the steel additive that makes all of our steel recreation toys even lighter and easier for use to use). Really long story short, they fought hard against the mining company and won, keeping Red Lady safe to this day 41 years later. I highly encourage you to read more about mayor Mitchell here and the whole history of the fight to save Red Lady here (as well as watch James Cameron's Avatar because mayor mayor Mitchell is who he unofficially based that story off of!).
    I first heard about HCCA when I moved here this past June. I quickly became a member and attended every event that I could. Why? Well in Wisconsin where I had grown up, the only environmental issues our state usually came across were unprotected wetlands, invasive species (carp and zebra mussels are two big ones, and small mines for silica sand (a really fine type of sand that is used by fracking plants to fill in the fissures in the wells used to extract natural gas). The land in Wisconsin is either a forest, wetland/a lake, or a field, typically having only one use. It was to my surprise when I got here, just what effect mining has had, and still has, in regions all around Colorado. I had learned about mountain top mining and other resource extraction tactics in my Environmental Science classes but had never experienced them. I remember my first drive over Monarch pass or past the mine near leadville, the companies having "eaten" half or almost all of the mountain. I couldn't believe it. I never thought someone could just destroy a piece of our natural world and be okay with it. Mining's impact in this state and HCCA's backstory proving just what can happen if you come together pushed me towards joining their organization right away.
    Anyways, everyone at HCCA is in full preparation for their annual Red Lady Salvation Ball. For the past 41 years, they've been holding a huge fundraiser in order to rise funds to continue to keep Red Lady mine-free. The fee of the tickets and the silent auction bring in about $10,000 every year from the citizens of Crested Butte, locals from the valley, the members of HCCA, and the original group that helped to save Red Lady. Since the silent auction brings in a big chunk of the funds, everyone is looking for some really awesome prizes to be able to use.
    Since HCCA is a non-profit organization and will be using the funds to help the work that they do, the best way to get awesome prizes without paying a lot for them or without paying anything at all are by getting donations from businesses. That means that it was my job to solicite donations from businesses too. Now, I'm not a shy person, but I'm definitely not an outgoing person either. This definitely comes into play when I'm talking about money. For example, I hate being a cashier when someone's credit card fails. Even though it's not my fault, I get really nervous when I have to tell someone that it failed and they're going to have to pay with something else. What if I say something in an offensive way? What if they don't have anything else to pay with? What if that makes them nervous too? It's kind of an irrational fear because again, it's not my fault. But you get the point.
    I have been tasked with sending out PSA's and soliciting donations from local businesses in Gunnison this week to start off. And as you may have figured, I was very intimidated to solicit donations. I made a list of businesses in Gunnison I thought would donate awesome prizes on Monday...and then pushed off the whole go-to-the-business-and-ask-for-a-donation process until Friday. Nervously, I walked into my first business on Friday and tried it out. I gave my pitch, asked if they would be interested and to my surprise, they were more than willing to give a donation than I expected! (Now I did mention the tax credit that businesses and people receive when they donate to a non-profit...but I'm going to stick with the idea that my pitch crushed it!) The rest of the businesses on my list reacted the same way and were excited for the challenge of putting together an awesome prize.
   Tax credit or not, I was surprised and appreciative of the way the community was so willing to give in order to support HCCA. I no longer have as much solicitation intimidation as I started with and am excited to see the community turnout at the event!
    Speaking of the event and my task to send out PSA's...

"It’s time to SAVE THE DATE and get your tickets for the 41st Annual Red Lady Salvation Ball featuring the Pimps of Joytime!
Get ready to break out your best red dress, duds and dancing shoes to join High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA) for the 41stAnnual Red Lady Salvation Ball featuring the Pimps of Joytime on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at the Eldo in Crested Butte. The Pimps of Joytime will bring the funk as we dance and come together to celebrate 41 years of keeping Red Lady mine-free. Additionally, the renowned Red Lady Ramblers will start off the evening during the happy hour featuring complimentary appetizers and cocktail specials. Tickets are $45 and include a 1-year HCCA membership. There will also be a silent auction, the legendary raffle and the 41st Red Lady coronation. Visit to get your tickets today!"