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Jefferson County is a generous community.
“And when you live in Jefferson County,” said Paige Brophy, executive director of the Outdoor Lab Foundation, “you want to give back in any way you can.”
The Outdoor Lab Foundation is the nonprofit fundraising arm for Outdoor Lab, a weeklong outdoor education program offered to sixth-graders in Jefferson County.
“Outdoor Lab is so much more than just a week on the trails. We like to say it’s a lifetime,” Brophy said. “Students return with a sense of stewardship.”
But not just stewardship of the environment, Brophy added. Students also gain a sense of stewardship of self and of others, she said.
This year, the Outdoor Lab Foundation is partnering with Colorado Brew Plus in Wheat Ridge for Colorado Gives Day, which takes place on Dec. 10. The brewery is making a custom beer and 50% of the proceeds from every beer sold on Colorado Gives Day will go to the Outdoor Lab Foundation.
“We’re excited to be able to give back to the community, and doing it through beer is a tasty way to be able to do that,” said James Coulter, the brewery’s head brewer.
Much of the staff, including Colorado Brew Plus’s owner Eugene Kahng, have gone through the Outdoor Lab program, Coulter added.
“This is a cool opportunity to give back to a local program that many of us have fond memories of,” Coulter said.
The beer will be a tart cherry milkshake IPA, Coulter said. It’s a play off of a traditional IPA with a focus on aromatics and essential oils versus the bitterness of hops, he said. Colorado Brew Plus is making two barrels of it, which will equal roughly 800 glasses, Coulter said. He added the goal is to sell as much of it as possible on Colorado Gives Day.
Outdoor Lab Foundation’s goal for Colorado Gives Day is to raise $35,000, Brophy said. She added that the foundation’s biggest priority overall is to provide student tuition assistance to ensure that every sixth grader can attend the Outdoor Lab program.
The Outdoor Lab Foundation serves 58 Jefferson County schools, Brophy said. On average, about 6,000 sixth-graders — and about 1,000 high school leaders who serve as counselors — go through the Outdoor Lab program each year. The program is in its 63rd year. It has two school locations — one is Windy Peak near Conifer and the other is Mount Evans near Evergreen. The foundation formed in 2003.
Kathy Weiss is the former principal of the Mount Evans school, and currently serves as the sites and schools liaison as well as sitting on the foundation’s board.
Weiss said she “has a million stories” that people have told her through the years of the difference that the Outdoor Lab experience made in their lives.
“There are so many people who have attended the program,” Weiss said. “And as adults when they talk about their careers and successes, they cite that the week at Outdoor Lab helped them become the person they are today.”
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