COLORADO SPRINGS — The Mountain Academy of Arts & Sciences at Ute Pass Elementary was designated a Leave No Trace Accredited Youth Program, the first public school in the nation to do so.

Manitou Springs School District 14 says the accreditation requires the program to demonstrate compliance with eleven different standards which evaluate how a program incorporates Leave No Trace and stewardship education throughout all facets of their youth programming. This requires participation not only from administrative and managerial staff but also from program staff and youth participants themselves.

“The hard work and dedication of both the staff and students was evident throughout their submission,” said Dana Watts, Leave No Trace Executive Director. “This distinction showcases the Mountain Academy of Arts and Sciences as a leader in implementing Leave No Trace education within a public school’s curriculum.”

Leave No Trace’s mission is to ensure a sustainable future for the outdoors and the planet. The Leave No Trace Youth Program Accreditation is a process that provides teachers, directors, managers and other youth program staff leaders with tools for the administration of Leave No Trace programming.

“A major part of our sixth-grade program includes learning and exploring outdoors. This includes hikes, rafting, fishing, camping, backpacking, caving, and much more,” explains Miles Groth, Mountain Academy instructor. “With groups of up to 50 people, we are going to have an impact on the natural environment. Through the accreditation process, students have built a strong understanding of how to minimize this impact and become stewards of the beautiful lands all around us. With this knowledge and experience, they have been able to share these experiences with their families and the larger community.”

More information about the Leave No Trace program can be found online.