Earth Corps

An intensive 4-week, for-credit field study course for undergraduate students.
Earth Corps students standing atop a summit

Earth Corps is a field studies program run by the Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI) in partnership with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to provide motivated, environmentally conscious students the opportunity to live and learn in the incredible natural classroom of the Colorado wilderness. The program began in 2002 and is designed to integrate key lessons in environmental studies with the completion of multiple critical environmental restoration projects. Earth Corps attracts exceptional students from across the nation to participate in this unique service learning opportunity.

"The trail compels you to know yourself"  -Enos Mills

In 2016, Earth Corps students will complete environmental restoration projects in Willow Lake Basin located at the base of Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Students will gain field experience in restoration ecology through the completion of a highly technical trail reconstruction project. Visiting professors and industry experts will provide lectures in the field covering topics such as geomorphology, vegetation, hydrology, land/recreation management, environmental policy, ethics, and other aspects of environmental studies. Upon successful completion of the program, each student will receive 4 credit hours from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (GES 446: Field Studies in Geography).

For the duration of the program, participants will live, work, and learn in a backcountry wildland environment, complete long hours of very demanding physical labor at altitudes of 11,000-14,000+ feet, work effectively as a team, exercise the highest level of commitment and perseverance, and make enduring friendships. Students will develop key outdoor skills during the program and through their summits of Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak. Students will learn and practice outdoor leadership, Leave No Trace ethics, backcountry navigation, alpine mountaineering, and risk management skills. There are no course pre-requisites to participate in Earth Corps. Previous backcountry experience is preferred, but not required. Earth Corps is a very physically strenuous program and participants must arrive in good physical condition.

Earth Corps Class of 2016:

  1. David Deuble, Montana State University
  2. Carter Eng, Colorado College
  3. Jamie Goins, Gonzaga University
  4. Joshua Hudgins, Eastern Washington University
  5. Tracy Jacobs, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
  6. Izzy Lackner, Southwestern University
  7. John Magliano, Willamette University

2016 Earth Corps Lecturers:

  1. Eric Billmeyer: Senior Instructor, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs - Glacial Geomorphology of Willow Lake Basin
  2. Dr. Emilie Gray: Professor, Colorado College - Living the High Life - Animal Adaptations to Alpine Environments
  3. Andrea Hassler: Trails and Outdoor Coordinator, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs - Trails and Sustainability: The Critical Role of Sustainable Trails for Land, Social, and Economic Health
  4. Dr. David Havlick: Associate Professor, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs - Public Land Management
  5. Cyndy Hines: Landscape Ecologist - Environmentally-Induced Responses to Human-Induced Climate Change in High Altitude Organisms
  6. Dr. Tom Huber: Professor, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs - Climate Change in the Alpine, Mountain Climatology and Soils
  7. Dr. Ross McCauley: Associate Professor of Biology, Fort Lewis College - Life Above the Trees - Plant Adaptations in the Rocky Mountains
  8. Loretta McEllhiney: Peak Manager, U.S. Forest Service - Managing Colorado's 14,000 Foot Peaks
  9. Bart Miller, JD: Water Program Director, Western Resource Advocates - Colorado Water Law
  10. Lori Nicholson: RMFI Board Member, Who the _______ Was Kit Carson?
  11. Mike Smith: Retired Forest Planning Specalist, U.S. Forest Service - Land Management History of Rio Grande National Forest, Land Management Issues Facing the Sangre de Cristo Range


2016 Information

Program Dates: July 11-August 9, 2016

Course Fee: There is a course fee of $2,500 (merit- and need-based scholarships available to qualifying students). Fees are used to cover costs of the program including project equipment, supplies, and materials.

To Apply:

The application period for the 2016 program has passed. Please check back later in the year for information and application for the 2017 program. 


Read alumni testimonials HERE.