Beidleman Center update provided in letter to Friends from their president

       Editor's note: The Beidleman Environmental Center (located in the city's Sondermann Park in the Westside's Mesa Springs neighborhood) has gone through some changes in the past year, first with budget cuts and then with the Catamount Institute moving into the center last spring. In her fall letter to members of the Friends of Beidleman Environmental Center, Friends Board President Ann Sanger provided an update on the center's activities and goals. Her letter, reprinted with permission and edited only slightly for publication, appears below.
      
       Dear Friends of the Beidleman Environmental Center:
       It is with great perseverance and a strong belief in the worth of our mission that Beidleman Friends (FBEC) have tackled environmental stewardship in 2004 with new program planning. These efforts have emphasized the arena of local education while maintaining a college scholarship program, stewardship of the Kathleen Marriage Garden, and a new sharing of the center site and programs with the Catamount Institute, also an environment-centered education organization.
       Following a year of cutbacks in city programs, the Beidleman Center lost funding and staff for existing programs and faced an unknown future. This thrust our determined band into new and creative ways to accomplish our goals…and opened worlds of possibilities during the past winter months.
       Today, we see new activity at the center. We are now sharing site facilities with Catamount staff and programs while continuing dear and proven center programs with public schools citywide. The site also continues to host community activities as well as education programs which are available through Colorado Springs Utilities.
       The education arm of the Board of the Friends has launched a pilot program of training teachers to lead outdoor experiences at the Beidleman Center site: first through fifth grades at Bristol, Buena Vista, Pike and Washington elemen-tary schools, School District 11, and all second grade teachers from Harrison School District 2. Standards-based and designed to provide an enriched science classroom outdoors, the training will be offered to teachers again in Spring 2005. Hundreds of children went through the park this fall under this program.
       Past programs available at the center have also been refurbished and updated. A new literacy component of sets of books drawn from the recommended best science trade books for students has been added to the science kits. And the popular outreach kits on bats, birds, buffalo and the rainforest are available to all grade levels.
       Habitat logs are being updated. Furthermore, eight area school libraries and the Pikes Peak Library system have been enriched with sets of science books made available by FBEC through the Wunderli Memorial Library.
       In all of this effort, needed is the support of you… the Friends …our volunteers and our most valued asset. This will come not only from existing Friends and neighborhood residents but from those who value the unique existence of Sondermann Park in our city center. Needed also are those interested in education programming and those with environmental interests and ideas for public programs related to the natural world in which we live and the beautiful parks within our city.
       Ann Sanger
      
       (For more information on the Friends of Beidleman, call 578-7088 or go to the website at www.springsgov.com/Page.asp?NavID=4148.)