Written by Abigail Censky

“Do you know that Colorado loses 90,000 acres of open lands, scenic views, and working farms and ranches every year?” asked Sierra Melton, sophomore and co-chair of Colorado College’s Students for Environmental Action, or EnAct. “You could stop that.”

This is the second year EnAct has participated in the Colorado Springs Independent’s annual Give! Campaign for local non-profits. Last year they raised $900 for the Palmer Land Trust.

This year, they met their goal of $2,000 with 127 mostly student donors: just under half of Palmer’s entire donor pool.

Palmer came second in the campaign, raising $45,729 with 291 donors, and even receiving a $500 dollar bonus for highest amount of young donors (18-36 year olds).

“They had 69 [young donors],” said Laurel Sebastian, Melton’s co-chair. “Without us they definitely wouldn’t have ranked [in the young donor category].”

The passion that both Sebastian and Melton have for the Palmer Land Trust is palpable in their eager explanations of the non-profits’ mission and is even more evident in the enormous success of this years’ fundraising.

As Sebastian explains, Palmer is a foundation with a primarily legal basis that works to conserve and preserve land in the Pikes Peak Region and Lower Arkansas River Valley. The Trust does this by working with farmers and ranchers to execute conservation easements, or by buying land and setting it aside as recreational or scenic space.

Both are quick to attest that the mission of Palmer coincides well with CC students, “because the lands they protect are lands that CC students frequently use,” said Sebastian. Melton said, “Section 16, Red Rocks Open Space, Palmer Park… the beautiful view of Pikes Peak [are] all partially due to Palmer Land Trust.”

Meeting this years’ $2,000 goal was no small feat. Coupled with last years’ fundraising, EnAct has raised nearly $3,000 for Palmer, but both Melton and Sebastian note that they had lots of support on campus from the State of the Rockies, as well as a $300 donation from the Environmental Department and help from CCSGA in putting on their big event ‘Festifall’.

EnAct tabled for months, asking students for donations as small as $1 or up to a generous $25, and offered various incentives at the different price tiers. Prizes included posters, Palmer Land Trust baseball caps, Bristol Beer, food from Springs Orleans, and Callicrate beef.

Melton, who spearheaded this years’ campaign, said, “Our vision was to raise enough money to include 90 acres of land, which is our campus if you include the CC Cabin and BACA.” She adds that it is hard to quantify, but for the current prices of land, “$2,000 is about the amount it would take for the stewardship of 90 acres.”

When asked if they would like to make this an annual fundraising event, Sebastian and Melton said they would, but that continuity is dependent on the willingness of next years’ club leadership.

“It would be awesome if we could protect the same amount of land that CC has developed [each year],” Melton said.

The success of this years’ campus campaign was staggering, and while accomplished with support from other campus organizations, will be one that Melton and Sebastian are remembered for.

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