Mar 052003
 
Authors: Willow Welter

The Environmental Learning Center will not go down without a fight, said Brett Bruyere, the former program director at the center.

CSU has eliminated programs at the ELC to cope with the current budget crisis. The state has required that the university cut $14 million from its budget and as a result the ELC is seeing cuts.

One of the cuts is the position of ELC program director, which Bruyere held until the recent budget slash.

“There’s no plan right now for me to have any paid involvement,” Bruyere said, “but as far as affiliation with the College of Natural Resources is concerned, I will continue working in any way I can.”

Jobs other than the position of program director have been eliminated as well. Student program positions filled by undergraduates, education specialists and even volunteer jobs have been cut, affecting 12 student positions in all.

Although Bruyere said he does not know enough about the decisions that have caused his position to be cut from the ELC, he, the students and the staff involved at the center have not given up hope.

“We’ve applied for grants, and we’ll shamelessly seek donations,” Bruyere said.

Despite the jobs and outreach programs cuts, Bruyere said the the mood at the ELC is a positive one of empowerment since the staff is still hopeful they will get their funding from places other than the university.

Meghan Peot, a student member of the program staff at the ELC, said she feels encouraged that the programs may still have hope generated by grant applications. Still, she said the removal of several outreach programs like summer ones is disappointing.

“The ELC has really allowed me to make a difference on a community scale,” Peot said. “As far as I’m aware, there won’t be any other places for school kids to get the same environmental aspect of their education that they got (at the ELC.)”

Donald Rodriguez, the director of environmental studies at the College of Natural Resources, said the department’s attempt has been to make cuts as far away from students as possible.

“I think the college is doing the best they can by giving a good interim solution,” Rodriguez said.

Peot has felt the reality of the budget cuts by waving goodbye to many of the ELC’s outreach programs and watching her boss lose his job as program director.

“It’s a reality that there’s hundreds of thousands of cuts CSU has to make,” she said. “But it’s frustrating that the department thinks this program affects the least amount of students.”

The ELC is a program designed by the College of Natural Resources that caters to school children, scout troops, members of the community and undergraduates at CSU.

These groups took advantage of outreach programs that included guided nature hikes, summer camps, youth programs and special events dedicated to environmental issues.

The mission statement of the ELC is to advance “environmental stewardship among students and the community through opportunities for experimental learning, self-study, and educational programs.”

About 3,200 school children, scout troops and members of the community may be affected by these budget cuts, Bruyere said.

The physical site of the ELC will remain open to the public, but no guided hikes or educational programs will be available.

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