Apr 082003
 
Authors: Willow Welter

Since CSU cut the Environmental Learning Center’s funding in March, supporters of the center have been working to keep it alive.

Michelle Peebles, a staff member at the ELC, said allies of the center have begun a student-driven mission to sustain the programs.

“The ELC is the best university-linked opportunity for us to get out there and do our hands-on work,” Peebles said.

The university cut the programs at the center as a way to cope with their current budget crisis, which has forced them to cut an estimated $14 million.

Peebles also suggested ways in which concerned students or community members can help the ELC stay alive.

“People can write a letter testimonial, like with their experience at the ELC or if they’re appalled by this happening,” she said.

In addition, people can join as members of the center, contribute a tax-free donation or participate in the new Adopt-An-Acre program.

Cara DiEnno, a graduate research assistant at the ELC, said that people or organizations can pay $75 to adopt one acre of land at Pingree Park. In return, the acre adopters receive membership to the ELC and recognition, she said.

About 12 people have adopted acres so far, said Brett Bruyere, the ELC’s program director, whose position was cut in March. Students who work at the center chipped in to buy the first acre.

Bruyere said the center is attempting to raise $15,000 to keep the programs going next fall.

“The money they’re looking for will continue opportunities for CSU students to work and learn in the ELC,” he said. “It also provides the opportunity to the 3,200 community children to continue to learn there.”

Bruyere said he is proud of the students who have organized these means of raising money.

“This has been a very much student-driven project; they’ve done this all on their own,” he said. “The university and all of the College of Natural Resources should feel very proud that they have students who will fight for what they believe in.”

DiEnno believes they can reach their financial goals.

“I’m very optimistic,” she said. “The way things are going we should be able to raise $15,000 without a problem.”

Peebles said people wanting to write a letter should address it to the College of Natural Resources Dean’s Office.

In the meantime, the students and staff involved with the ELC continue to work toward keeping the programs in existence.

“My hope is that the CSU and the Fort Collins community will really get behind the ELC and support us during a very difficult time,” Bruyere said.

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