D51 opens new Outdoor Wilderness Lab

D51 opens new Outdoor Wilderness Lab
Posted on 03/05/2020
OWL facility in Gateway with kids

Gateway, CO – The new Outdoor Wilderness Lab (OWL) facility next to Gateway School is now open!  The facility will host 19 sessions (each three days in length) for 480 D51 sixth-graders starting today, March 2, and ending for the season on May 20, 2020. 

OWL launched seven years ago as a weeklong outdoor learning program for a group of Bookcliff Middle School sixth-graders. While interest in the program has grown over the years, the number of students and schools who could participate was limited. OWL had to rely on renting space at camp facilities on Grand Mesa, and renting those facilities for multiple weeks was not feasible. 

Financial support from School District 51, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and several other partners, plus student fees, have made creation of a place OWL can call its permanent home possible. Now that the program has its own facility, it can run multiple sessions of the program so more students can experience OWL. 

The new facility includes five tent cabins built by D51 Career Center students, a fire pit, a large day use area and more. Students will be attending this year from Bookcliff, East, Fruita, Gateway, Grand Mesa, Mt. Garfield Orchard Mesa, Redlands, West and Juniper Ridge Community School.

OWL by the Numbers

  • 480 students registered
  • 10 schools participating
  • 19 sessions planned for Spring 2020
  • 20-30 students per 3-day session
  • 44 students from Central High volunteering as camp counselors
  • 51 nursing students from Colorado Mesa participating
  • $381,032 raised for operations, personnel and facility construction expenses to run OWL 2020

OWL Partners

  1. A&B Tree Service
  2. Ale House
  3. Alpine Bank
  4. Career Center
  5. City Market
  6. Colorado Mesa University- Nursing
  7. Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  8. Colorado State Forest Service
  9. D51 Foundation
  10. FM Electric
  11. Friends of Youth and Nature
  12. Gateway Canyon Resorts & Air Tours
  13. Gateway Fire Department
  14. Gateway School
  15. Grand Junction Fire Department
  16. Grand Junction Lions Club
  17. Great Outdoors Colorado
  18. Horizon Sunrise Rotary Club
  19. Jolly Smiles
  20. Jumping Rock
  21. Lazy Daze Ranch LLC
  22. Living Your Life Better
  23. Mazurek Family
  24. Mesa County Valley School District 51
  25. Mesa Feed Mart
  26. Montrose Forestry
  27. Moore's Mining
  28. Perri's Powersports
  29. Strive
  30. Two-Way Communication
  31. VC Gutter Work Inc
  32. Western Colorado Community Foundation
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