Kira L. Sadler, MScAdjunct Faculty
- MSc Conservation Biology, University of Kent, Canterbury
- BA Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder
- AA College of the Siskiyous, Weed, California
My role is primarily in academic affairs. I work with faculty to deliver innovative and inclusive curriculum. I also work with our community constituents to develop programs that elevate the economic, social, cultural, and environmental vitality of our beautiful Rocky Mountain communities.
I have one beautiful daughter who is my world. I love to fly fish, camp, ski, and cook. I am a music aficionado and play the saxophone, piano, flute, clarinet, and guitar.
I love that Leadville is so diverse and we at CMC are an integral part of breaking barriers for our community members to earn college degrees.
By Heather McGregor
For its collaborative work on electric cars, wildlife surveys and a broad range of other efforts that address climate change, Colorado Mountain College recently earned national recognition.
In January, the U.S. Green Building Council and Second Nature honored the college as one of eight U.S. institutions receiving the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Awards.
CMC’s award, an honorable mention, is for cross-sector collaboration. It recognizes the college’s students, faculty and administration for partnering with many other organizations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, monitor changes in climate and support land preservation.
Collaborative efforts cited for the award include working with the Colorado Energy Office to install electric car charging stations at 10 CMC locations, strategizing with community and utility leaders to accelerate renewable energy, and using student scientists to help land and climate organizations create biological baselines.
For example, students in the Roaring Fork Valley are monitoring soil moisture content at stations throughout the valley to provide valuable data for the Aspen Global Change Institute, according to Adrian Fielder, assistant dean of instruction at CMC Spring Valley.
In another project, students and faculty are working with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program to conduct a “bio-blitz” survey, documenting plant and animal life in and near the Spring Valley campus and setting a biological baseline.
In Aspen, students and faculty are working with The Farm Collaborative at Cozy Point Ranch to create a demonstration farm, tool library and incubator space for food entrepreneurs, with the aim of building local food resilience as the climate changes.
CMC’s Bachelor of Arts in sustainability studies program hosts annual conferences open to students and invited members of the public. The conferences feature workshops on efforts to develop clean energy jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changing climate.
College connects on local, national stage
CMC is an active member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, a national organization for college-level climate and sustainability programs. The association’s resources help keep CMC’s faculty and staff on the leading edge of sustainability education.
These and many other examples of cross-sector collaboration were included in CMC’s successful award application, written by Dr. Kevin Hillmer-Pegram, associate professor of sustainability studies at Spring Valley, and Ed Chusid, CMC grant coordinator.
“Recognition for cross-sector collaboration is an honor and truly symbolic of our sustainability successes here at the college,” said Nathan Stewart, chair of the college’s sustainability studies bachelor’s program and associate professor at CMC Steamboat Springs.
The Higher Education Climate Leadership Awards focused on three key areas in which colleges can make a difference: climate innovation, student preparedness and cross-sector collaboration.
CMC offered examples of its work in all three sectors. For the U.S. Green Building Council and Second Nature, CMC’s collaborative work stood out.
“Combining the expertise of higher education institutions with businesses, cities, states and other stakeholders creates climate solutions at the scale needed to meet today’s environmental challenges,” said Betsy Painter, communications manager for Second Nature.
Award winners are being recognized at the 2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit February 2019 in Tempe, Arizona.
By Carrie Click
This summer, Colorado’s smoky haze, wildfires, low water levels and hot temperatures provided reasons to worry about the state, the American West and the planet, for that matter.
For a group of sustainability studies students taking permaculture courses at Colorado Mountain College, the effects of climate change and a passion for the environment are motivating them to discover ways to help solve real ecological challenges.
On a recent summer day two dozen students, faculty and staff from CMC Spring Valley at Glenwood Springs and CMC Steamboat Springs gathered at The Farm Collaborative at Cozy Point Ranch near Aspen to study, collaborate and work at the organization’s 14 acres.
Originally called Aspen TREE, The Farm Collaborative is a 10-year-old nonprofit that expanded its lease this spring with the City of Aspen. It’s working to stimulate a global movement toward healthier relationships among food, people and the land.
The basis of culture
According to Dr. Tina Evans, CMC Steamboat Springs professor of sustainability studies, permaculture is “a vision, a set of ethical and practical principles. It is sustainability in action with a special focus on creating food systems that mimic the dynamic stability of healthy ecosystems.”
Eden Vardy is The Farm Collaborative’s founder and executive director. He’s also an adjunct faculty member at Colorado Mountain College. An advocate of regenerative agriculture, which aims to increase biodiversity and improve water cycles, and to create resilience to climate fluctuation, Vardy and The Farm Collaborative provide a working example of what a healthy food ecosystem can look like.
“The way I see it, food is really the basis of culture,” he said. “It’s our third fundamental need next to air and water. We don’t have a tremendous amount of creativity around air and water. But when it comes to food, it’s where we can deliver a little bit of creativity.”
That creativity extends from The Farm Collaborative’s site to CMC students, who are working on permaculture projects at the Spring Valley campus and at the collaborative’s site. One CMC student, for example, is designing a U-Pick orchard, while other students are pitching in at a variety of small farms and ranches throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.
Standing up for the planet
CMC sustainability studies major Monique Vidal is a mother of two and an interior designer from Carbondale. She said she’s always been passionate about nature. As an 8-year-old growing up in southern California, she saw a kid poking an octopus and told him to stop.
“I told him, ‘How would you like it if someone did that to you?’” she said.
That same caring attitude is why she’s pursuing her degree in sustainability studies. Currently, she’s working alongside fellow sustainability studies student Sergio Ortiz. A veteran deployed in 2005, Ortiz is now involved in a vocational program for veterans. Vidal and Ortiz are developing a rotational grazing program for the animals at CMC Spring Valley’s veterinary technology farm.
Vidal said they’re mitigating the nitrogen in the fertilizer in the field above the farm. Their goal is to improve the overall health of the field and the aquifer adjacent to it. “We’re working and helping CMC while getting our bachelor’s in sustainability studies,” she said.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Samantha “Sam” Hankinson, who grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley, graduated from Bridges High School in Carbondale and is earning her bachelor’s degree in sustainability studies at CMC Spring Valley. “These kinds of community ties allow us as students to thrive,” she said.
This story was originally published on CMC ENews
Ramsey Bond dearly loves her dog, Summit, but she is all too familiar with the “back end” of dog ownership. In preparing to soon earn her bachelor’s degree in sustainability studies at Colorado Mountain College, Bond is taking that “back end” challenge head-on through animal waste composting.
Bond teamed up with the Colorado Animal Rescue shelter in Spring Valley, which is adjacent to the college’s veterinary technology farm, to build an outdoor animal waste composting system. The three-bin composter will convert a mixture of the shelter’s animal waste and a local woodworker’s sawdust into composted soil that’s safe for lawns, shrubbery and flower gardens.
“I knew our campus had a vet tech school,” Bond said. The vet tech program is closely affiliated with the shelter. “I wanted to see how we could reduce pet waste from that facility. Because I own a dog, I have always seen it as a problem.”
In her research, Bond came across EnviroWagg, an animal waste composting company operating in Longmont, Colorado. She contacted the owner, Rose Seemann, and is now completing an internship with EnviroWagg as part of her CMC studies.
“This is an area where there is a great deal of denial,” Seemann said. “Dogs produce about 270 pounds of waste per year, but nobody wants to think about the back end.” Seemann said pet waste accounts for about 4 percent of all residential waste.
Bringing information to community
Using what she learned at EnviroWagg, Bond visited CARE, where the shelter staff immediately grasped the advantages.
“They really wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “It went along with their mission of helping animals go back into the community. Now we can use the waste to keep their landscaping healthy.”
Over the years, CARE has worked to increase its sustainability by recycling, using wood pellets for cat litter and installing solar panels for electricity, said the shelter’s executive director, Wes Boyd.
“This is our next addition for sustainability, and we really appreciate it,” he said.
System kills pathogens
Until this spring, CARE staff collected the shelter’s daily animal waste in a plastic garbage bag and carried it to the dumpster, said Tracey Yajko, CARE’s community outreach manager and a longtime shelter staffer.
With the new composting system, shelter staffers collect waste through the day in a heavy-duty plastic bucket with a screw-top lid, and empty it into the outdoor compost bin at the end of the day.
Bond built the three side-by-side composting bins in an enclosed area on the warm south side of the shelter building. Fellow student Aaron Anderson, president of the CMC Sustainability Club, helped with clearing a space within the enclosed area and with building the bins.
They used scavenged shipping pallets for the framework and attached scrounged one-inch wire mesh on the sides to keep the composting material in and critters out. The bin lids are topped with corrugated sheet metal, which was donated and cut to fit by Umbrella Roofing Co.
Near the bins, Bond placed two large plastic trash barrels with lids, each full of sweet-smelling sawdust. It’s provided by Daniel Oldenburg at Summit Construction, and is another waste byproduct that previously went to the landfill. A few scoops of sawdust go in on top of each day’s waste.
The new CARE composter is based on a three-stage system developed and tested in other communities: building, working and curing.
The first bin already has a growing pile of animal waste and sawdust. Even on a recent warm spring day, there was no odor. Once the pile is about three feet high, the label on this “building” bin will switch to become a “working” bin, and the CARE staff will start piling new waste and sawdust in a new “building” bin.
Meanwhile, composting starts in the first bin, managed by the CMC Spring Valley Sustainability Club.
Students will add water, aiming for the pile to be damp from top to bottom. Using a long-stemmed thermometer, they monitor the pile’s core temperature. Natural composting heats the pile to about 150 to 160 degrees, which kills off the pathogens and parasites that might be present in animal waste, Bond said. As it cools down, students use a pitchfork to turn the pile.
The heating, cooling and turning process happens three or four times over several weeks, until the pile no longer heats up. At that point, the “working” bin shifts to the “curing” stage. The composted waste sits, exposed to the weather, for several more months. After about a year, Bond said, it will be ready for use in landscaping.
Bond is using her capstone project, another requirement for completing her bachelor’s degree, to visit dog parks from Aspen to Carbondale and survey 50 pet owners about dog waste.
She plans to analyze the survey results to see what types of animal waste collection and composting could work in the community, and whether it could be a sustainable business.
Seemann said Bond has gone past the “ick” factor to seek practical solutions for diverting animal waste from landfills.
“It takes a certain kind of person to think about the responsible way of dealing with things,” Seemann said. “There’s a huge sustainability problem here, and Ramsey Bond recognizes it.”
Composting backyard pet waste
Here are a few resources to help you learn more about pet waste composting:
“The Pet Poo Pocket Guide: How to safely compost and recycle pet waste,” by Rose Seemann (available through Amazon); https://www.amazon.com/Pet-Poo-Pocket-Guide-2015-05-26/dp/B01FKWURAU/
“Composting Dog Waste,” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District (free, available online); https://prod.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_035763.pdf