Earth Corps 2017

RMFI's award-winning, college-accredited field studies course.
Basecamp at 11,500 feet in the Willow Lake Basin

Earth Corps 2017

Field Studies in Geography from the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs
30-Day Backcountry Environmental Service Program

July 14-August 12, 2017

Adventure • Education • Service

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Course Fee: There is a course fee of $1,500 to cover program costs including tuition, staff, and all project equipment, food, supplies, and course materials. What you get:

• All food (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) for the duration of the program.
• All course materials including handouts, readings, daypack, and field notebook.
• Technical training in hands-on trail and restoration skills and techniques from industry experts.
• Academic lectures from experts in the field of botany, ecology, hydrology, public lands management, and more.
• Tuition costs through the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs (transferable to your university/college).
• Use of all project gear, supplies, and equipment including tents, helmets, and tools for the duration of the program. 
• Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live, work, learn, and play for 30-days in a Colorado wilderness while gaining real-world experience, and making friendships and memories that will last forever.

Course Description: 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.

In 2017, Earth Corps students will complete environmental restoration projects in Willow Lake Basin located at the base of Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak, two iconic 14’ers 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, botany, 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.

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 (14,081 feet) and Kit Carson Peak (14,165 feet). 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 physical strenuous and participants must arrive in good physical condition.

Program Dates: July 14-August 12, 2017

To Apply:

• Complete online Program Application form and $25 application fee (included in form)
• Email current resume and cover letter detailing interest in program and qualifications to [email protected]

Please submit all application materials at once.

RMFI accepts applications on a rolling basis and will review completed applications immediately upon receiving them. Acceptance into the program is competitive, based on application and interview process. RMFI will select 10 students to participate. Upon receiving an application, RMFI staff will contact prospective students to arrange an interview.

Application Deadline: Final deadline is April 28, 2017.


2016 Earth Corps Lecturers (2017 lecturers coming soon!):

  • Eric Billmeyer: Senior Instructor, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs - Glacial Geomorphology of Willow Lake Basin
  • Dr. Emilie Gray: Professor, Colorado College - Living the High Life - Animal Adaptations to Alpine Environments
  • 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
  • Dr. David Havlick: Associate Professor, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs - Public Land Management
  • Cyndy Hines: Landscape Ecologist - Environmentally-Induced Responses to Human-Induced Climate Change in High Altitude Organisms
  • Dr. Tom Huber: Professor, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs - Climate Change in the Alpine, Mountain Climatology and Soils
  • Dr. Ross McCauley: Associate Professor of Biology, Fort Lewis College - Life Above the Trees - Plant Adaptations in the Rocky Mountains
  • Loretta McEllhiney: Peak Manager, U.S. Forest Service - Managing Colorado's 14,000 Foot Peaks
  • Bart Miller, JD: Water Program Director, Western Resource Advocates - Colorado Water Law
  • Lori Nicholson: RMFI Board Member, Who the _______ Was Kit Carson?
  • 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

Want to learn more? Read ALUMNI TESTIMONIALS  and watch this video about the program: