Enriching the summer | AspenTimes.com

Enriching the summer

Dear Editor:With summer under way in our valley, we wish to acknowledge the diverse and exceptional programs offered by the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.Even though ACES programs occur throughout the year, each summer brings out a highly professional staff offering locals and visitors an incredible breadth and depth of courses and outdoor experiences. Their impressive Naturalist Field School offers individuals a broad selection of wonderful courses, and the naturalist program reaches across the valley.Long before the summer naturalists and ACES staff guide you through Ashcroft, Independence, atop Snowmass or Aspen Mountain or along Maroon Lake and Hallam Lake, there is an intensive training to prepare the staff.We have had the fortune to teach summer courses at ACES for a number of years, and during our most recent teaching time, we observed this intense preparation of the summer staff. It is extremely impressive to note the high quality of training that occurs for the visiting naturalists: an education in alpine wildflowers, plant life, bird life, animal life, the historical sites and their individual stories, weather, water, as well as educational programs for children and adults on a daily basis.All these plus more are key components of the training for a summer naturalist. There is time spent on the mountains and trails, as well as with local experts to strengthen and deepen the enormous amount of information imparted to young naturalists who are from all over the United States and Canada.While it takes a caring, committed and hardworking staff at ACES to keep the center humming throughout the summer, one individual guides approximately 18 naturalists through the training and their daily paces – Jim Kravitz. For the past 10 years he has quietly, yet intently, offered his own expertise to create a superior educational and informative program.Jim works to make the summer (and winter) naturalists program one of high quality; naturalists take time to understand thoroughly each outdoor site, to understand the history and natural science of our area, the team approach to guided walks and talks, and how to teach children as well as adults the opportunity to learn about more than one or two natural areas in our valley.Jim puts time, care and thought into every part of the training of ACES summer naturalists, and it is evident in the outcome – a highly professional and invested group of hardworking individuals!Thanks to Jim’s efforts, we all have an opportunity to take advantage of ACES’ great summer naturalists programs.Thank you to ACES, Jim and the naturalists for enriching our summer outdoors experiences!Jeff and Wendy BrighamEmma