August 21, 2019

Rocky Mountain Environmental Hazards Challenge: History

2019 Competition & Summit

Congratulations to the 2019 Winners of the Rocky Mountain Environmental Challenge!

For the second year in a row, Estes Park Middle School went home with first place in the Rocky Mountain Environmental Hazards Challenge. Congrats to all the young people who participated and their educators.

Take a look at a video of their award-winning presentation:

“The most important thing I learned through the RMEHC program is that we can make an impact on our environment.” — 2018/19 Student Participant

The 2018/19 RMEHC experienced a successful and pivotal year of program growth. Through innovative and pragmatic projects, students learned how to increase their community’s resilience to natural hazards, making their communities stronger, safer, and more prepared to deal with environmental challenges. Students from five schools presented their project proposals to a crowded district board room and handled tough questions from our expert panel of RMEHC judges representing the City of Fort Collins, Larimer County, State of Colorado, FEMA Region VIII, Colorado Association of Stormwater and Floodplain Managers, and the Association of State Floodplain Managers Foundation. Brad Anderson, Chair of the Projects Committee of the ASFPM Foundation Executive Board, said, “The student competition was a truly rewarding experience for me. I’m excited about the future given the results witnessed during the competition and the presentations that were delivered. The presentations demonstrated students’ enthusiasm and keen insight into a reduction of flood risk within our local communities.”

Also in attendance were representatives from the following organizations:

    • Larimer County Board of Commissioners
    • Larimer County Office of Emergency Management
    • Larimer Emergency Telephone Authority
    • Larimer County League of Women Voters
    • Weld County Office of Emergency Management
    • City of Fort Collins Mayor’s Office
    • City of Fort Collins City Council
    • City of Fort Collins Utilities Department
    • City of Longmont Stormwater Management
    • CU Boulder
    • Poudre School District Operations Department
    • Thompson School District Superintendent’s Office

2018/19 RMEHC School Group Project Proposals

1st Place, $1000 winner: Estes Park Middle School
The issue of community wildfire protection was chosen by Estes Park students.  Their object was to encourage people in Estes Park to use the Firewise USA suggestions to protect their homes from spreading wildfires.

Their proposed solution was to:

  • Create scaled models to see how wildfires spread
  • Share information with the community about the Firewise USA program (social media, newspaper articles, etc.)
  • Build a partnership between the Estes Park School District and EVFPD to take Firewise USA action steps; The EVFPD will inspect homes free of charge for fire protection and prevention; Homeowners can ask for help in reaching Firewise USA suggestions.
  • Recruit and train middle and high school students to do simple jobs around homes in the community to meet some Firewise USA suggestionsPlan three days of volunteer work for this summer; Celebrate and reward the work that is being done.


2nd Place, $800 winner: Blevins Middle School
Students at Blevins Middle School decided to focus on the impact of flooding on habitat with an objective to better understand the impact of flooding and stormwater management on habitat areas in Fort Collins. The proposed solution was to place wildlife cameras in the Cache La Poudre, Cooper Slough/Boxelder, Old Town, Fox Meadows, McClellands, and Fossil Creek drainage basins so that they would have data from all 12 of the drainage basins in Fort Collins before, during, and after a flood event. This would allow them and the City of Fort Collins to know if the current flood mitigation strategies are working the way that they should and if there needs to be any changes to the current strategies.


3rd Place, $600 winner, Webber Middle School
To improve and provide for school response to and emergency preparedness for natural hazard events. Their solution would be to make natural disaster emergency kits, which they currently do not have at Webber Middle School.



4th place went to Compass Community Collaborative School that focused on the issue of stormwater and flooding on their school grounds. 5th place went to High Plains School who focused on poor drainage on their school field.