What is SCAPE?

SCAPE (Sustainable Communities and Place-based Education), is a pilot high school and community-based science education project combining online learning and field observations linked to “living classrooms” across the Colorado River Basin. The program builds on EPA recognized EE curriculum design guidelines and workshops, and provides opportunities for science teachers to learn both the science of water quality and best practices for EE. SCAPE trained teachers will introduce students to the hydrology of the CR System, methods for measuring in-stream flow, and techniques for testing water quality. The program will provide specific training in EE pedagogy as related to real-world problems—water quality and supply—and will give our partner high school teachers the tools and methods to move from knowledge to action.The Telluride Institute’s TIES (Telluride Institute Environmental Studies) program is the beneficiary of a portion of a major EPA grant led by TI Board President, Dan Collins, who is also a professor at Arizona State University. The award totals $192,000 and is being used to support an environmental education curriculum designed by Collins for 10 high schools along the Colorado River—from Pinedale, Wyoming to Yuma, Arizona. Regional partners include Telluride High School in the San Miguel watershed, Animas High School (Durango) in the Animas watershed, and Cedaredge High School in the Gunnison watershed.

Science teachers from partner high schools will receive equipment for water quality testing and training in environmental education curriculum design. The Telluride Institute’s Laura Kudo and Vicki Phelps will help coordinate the effort instructor workshops to be held at the Deep Creek School, 7 miles west of Telluride during the summers of 2016 and 2017. Rex Lybrand, a science teacher from Telluride High School, will lend his expertise to the project and involve his students. The curriculum will be launched in the Fall of 2017.

In addition to improving EE teaching skills of regional science teachers, SCAPE will enhance student’s STEM learning outcomes. SCAPE is designed to improve students’ decision-making skills and achieve behavioral changes that foster a sense of stewardship and benefit the environment.

SCAPE builds on significant work in K12 EE including the Telluride Institute’s Watershed Education Program (Kudo, 2015), ASU’s School of Life Science (SoLS) programs Ask-A-Biologist (Kazilek, 2015) and Ecology Explorers (Banks, Elser & Salz, 2005), and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS). The goal is to develop a robust EE platform that serves watershed education across the western states.

Besides the EPA grant, the Telluride Institute Environmental Studies (TIES) program is indebted to generous donations from Audrey Marnoy, Pamela Zoline, and Scott Chambers as well as significant funding from a number of local organizations including Just For Kids, Alpine Bank, The Town of Telluride, and San Miguel County.

For up to the minute info on the SCAPE project, please visit