Safety, Science and Snowshoeing for Valley Youth with ACES

Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) brings 350 second grade students from Basalt Elementary, Aspen Elementary, Carbondale Community School, Blue Lake Preschool, Aspen Country Day, and Sopris Elementary to Aspen Mountain each winter to learn about snow science, local animal winter adaptations, and skier safety.

Aspen/Snowmass supports this program donating 100s of footpasses for students and chaperones to ride the Silver Queen Gondola (the first time for many involved). Once atop Aspen Mountain the students  are introduced to the techniques of snowshoeing by ACES educators. The groups then explore along Richmond ridge, taking part in the “winter challenge course” where they act out various adaptations animals have and use to survive and thrive in the winter (becoming weasels and digging into the subnivian zone to look for mice and voles to eat, walking single-file through deep snow like a herd of deer, etc.) After lunch, the students learn about snow science and ski safety from the Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol. This includes avalanche study, snow safety equipment, and working with the rescue dogs as one of the “lucky” second grade students is buried and then found under the snow.

Video by Barry Stevenson – Outside Adventure Media.

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About Matthew Hamilton

Matthew Hamilton is Aspen Skiing Company’s (ASC) Sustainability Director. He is also the Executive Director of the Environment Foundation, which has donated more than $2 million over the past 15 years. Matthew oversees ASC's community philanthropy, and runs ASC's day-to-day environmental programs, including the monthly Greenletter, and GREENTRACK, ASC's ISO 14001 certified environmental management system. Matthew is also consultant with Aspen Sustainability Associates, and has lectured nationally and internationally on ASC's work. He currently serves as President of the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education, and on the boards of the Carbondale Tourism Council, Colorado Youth Corps Association and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. Previously, Matthew was a Research Officer at The Piton Foundation, working with low income neighborhoods on issues of education reform, affordable housing and economic development. Prior to that, he worked for Share Our Strength, a national anti-hunger anti-poverty group; the Independent Sector, a national association of nonprofits and foundations, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (on a project called Enterprise for the Environment), for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, and for Middlebury College. Matthew has a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science from Middlebury College and a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University where he focused on nonprofit management. During his free time he can be found on his bike spending time enjoying many of the local trails and back roads. He lives in Carbondale, Colorado with his wife Jen, and their children Boden and Beck.