Boulder Valley School District

New Accelerate program aims to connect high school students with their local environment and college and career opportunities

Teen girl by water with hard hat
Susan Cousins

En Español

Starting this fall, 11th and 12th graders have the opportunity to learn about and experience managing natural resources in their local environment in a brand new course at Boulder TEC through BVSD’s Accelerate program

According to BVSD’s director of career and college connections, Arlie Huffman, Ph.D., the program will be housed at the Sombrero Marsh site south of BVSD’s Education Center campus. Located amidst City of Boulder open space, the site is an opportune location for the natural resource management program and will touch on topics such as environmental education, geographic information systems, hydrology, wildlife and fisheries management and water conservation. Huffman explained that examining the impacts of climate change on the local environment could also be a topic of study. The coursework will be based on the State of Colorado’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) Principles of Natural Resource Management courses and supports the curriculum and instruction goals of BVSD’s Sustainability Action Plan

“When high school students across the district were asked what kind of programs they wanted to see for Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes, outdoor leadership/natural resources was number one across the board. We know the need is there.” Huffman commented. 

Expanding career exploration and training for green careers was also part of the Green New Deal resolution brought to the district by BVSD students and adopted by the Board last fall. 

“Students want relevance,” Huffman said. “They want to be able to make the direct connection from what they are learning to their dreams down the road. That’s why CTE exists in general—to provide the “so what” while they are learning.” 

The intent is that while students will be building their skills and knowledge in natural resource management, they will also be earning college credit and industry certifications. These extra credentials will position them well to move into jobs or related college programs, an idea that is embodied in BVSD’s Grad+ program

The new natural resources coursework is designed to articulate into programs currently offered at Front Range Community College and Colorado State University. 

“The pieces are all there. This will be a nice progression. The opportunity to do this is pretty exciting,” Huffman commented. 

Students also will be able to take certifications and work experience they earn directly into employment as a field tech or similar work after high school graduation. And, they will be able to build on that educational foundation over the years. 

Currently the program is structured as a 1-year program, but there is the potential for it to evolve to a 2-year program with work-based learning occurring in the second year. Huffman explains that the program also has the potential to connect with other high school courses, such as Biology, Chemistry, or Social Studies to be part of a broader career pathway. Plans are already in the works to connect with the Teacher Academy program at TEC to support the environmental education component. 

Huffman also envisions developing partnerships with local organizations to enrich the program. Being located at the City of Boulder’s Sombrero Marsh Open Space creates an obvious opportunity to partner with the City. Other potential partners include Federal labs, non-profit organizations, and private companies engaged in this type of work. 

“It’s an amazingly rich environment for a lot of this,” Huffman commented. 

Registration for the program is currently open. Students can learn more about the program here and submit an application here. Families can direct questions to Boulder TEC Assistant Principal Ming Scheid (720-561-5234, or Boulder TEC Counselor Amy Buss (720-561-5592,


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