Evergreen High School junior Morgan Hays is giving back to Mount Evans Outdoor Lab School, where her sixth-grade experience there set her on a path to a career in environmental science.
Morgan, 16, a member of Girl Scout Troop 1215, is working toward her Gold Award, which is similar to becoming an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. She decided that her 100-hour project would be creating an outdoor classroom for the geology lessons that sixth-graders learn.
Morgan built the Geosphere base camp with the help of volunteers and donations.
The base camp has log seats in an amphitheater setting where students learn about rocks before hiking to the top of a mountain. She also built two display cases, one with rock samples and the other with maps, plus a chalkboard that can be used to explain geological principles.
The display cases came from an anonymous donor who gave Morgan a huge case that was reworked into the two smaller cases to be more useful at outdoor lab.
Mount Evans Outdoor Lab School is one of two Outdoor Labs in Jefferson County Schools. The other Lab School is at Windy Peak.
Mount Evans principal David Epp said the Geosphere class is one of six core classes that sixth-graders take while at the one-week outdoor lab experience. The base camp for each core class gives students a place to get information about what they will explore as they move about the Lab School grounds.
For Morgan, who also has worked as a high school volunteer at the lab school, this project is giving back to a place that changed her career path.
While at Outdoor Lab in sixth grade, “I changed my mind from being a fashion designer to an environmental scientist,” Morgan said. “It showed me another side of the world that I didn’t realize before.”
She’s interested in hydrology, but she said rocks are pretty interesting, too.
The base camp, she said, will help the sixth-graders learn the different types of rocks in the area and understand the Earth better.
“She’s done a fantastic job,” Epp said. “This base camp (that she built) is going to affect every single sixth-grader who comes up here. This year alone, it will be used by more than 3,000 students. The effects of her work will be wide-ranging.”
Morgan had help from Moore Lumber and Hardware in Pine Junction, Rising Graphics and Printing in Evergreen, and Rolling Ridge Deck Co. in Evergreen, plus lots of volunteers, including the Mount Evans staff.
Epp put in a pitch to other teens working on their Eagle Scout or Gold Award. He’s looking for a Biosphere base camp, too.