Outdoor education courses for women offered in Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain Conservancy will offer “Introduction to Winter Recreation” on March 19
The Rocky Mountain Conservancy, a nonprofit that supports Rocky Mountain National Park, offers introductory courses on rock climbing, snowshoeing, winter recreation and high-altitude hiking for women.
These classes are offered through the Conservancy’s Field Institute to advance women’s confidence in the outdoors and empower them to experience mountain travel. They are called Bettie Courses in honor of Dr. Beatrice “Bettie” Willard (1925-2003), a beloved and respected ecologist who studied alpine tundra and land management planning in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Willard started the Rocky Mountain Field Seminars in 1962. The program, now called the Rocky Mountain Conservancy Field Institute, is the longest running national park field institute program in the country and typically welcomes over 1,000 course participants each year.
From Feb. 24-26, the conservancy offered an avalanche certification in conjunction with Kent Mountain Adventure Center to educate backcountry skiers, climbers and winter recreation enthusiasts on operating safely in avalanche terrain. The course took place in the center’s classroom located at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park and in field locations on the east side of the Rockies.
“Thanks to Rocky Mountain Conservancy for creating a safe space to grow my winter recreation skills, ask questions, and discuss these important topics,” said participant Emily Sawyer. “I learned a lot from the course and from the other women participating. I also gained new adventure partners who possess the same education as me, which makes me feel both more competent and safer when playing in the mountains!”
On March 19, the Conservancy’s Field Institute will offer a Bettie Course titled Introduction to Winter Recreation designed to help women cultivate skills necessary to recreate in winter (and spring snow) environments in effective and safe ways. The group will meet at the Estes Park Visitor Center, then travel into the park for a snowshoe hike.
For those interested in learning more about Dr. Willard and the alpine tundra, they can sign up for an immersive course titled Tundra Pioneer: The Life and Legacy of Bettie Willard on July 20.
In honor of former board member Janet Robertson, the Rocky Mountain Conservancy has established a scholarship fund to assist those attending a Bettie Course. Robertson served on the board for more than 20 years and first began exploring in Rocky Mountain National Park more than 80 years ago. During her decades hiking, skiing, climbing and backpacking in Rocky, she noticed a lack of diversity and women recreating solo on the trails.
Her service on the board was largely focused on increasing park access and use for underrepresented populations. Contact the Field Institute at education@RMConservancy.org to learn more about Bettie Course scholarships. Robertson is also the author of “The Magnificent Mountain Women: Adventures in the Colorado Rockies,” which chronicles the achievements of women in the Rockies since the 1850s.
To register or learn more about the upcoming Bettie Courses, visit RMConservancy.org/events. Since 1931, the Rocky Mountain Conservancy has promoted stewardship of Rocky Mountain National Park and similar lands through education and philanthropy.
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