Fall Appeal

December, 2022

Dear Gulch Community,

Our 2022 treks are in the books, and what a success they were! Our summer treks provided well over 100 young people with life-changing, multi-week experiences. Our school treks brought over 1,000 students into New Mexico’s most beautiful outdoor spaces.  Together, these treks provided a means of strengthening communities after the pandemic. 

We have big plans for the coming year, and we are asking for your financial support to keep Cottonwood Gulch’s programs unique and vibrant. Where will your money go? Here are a few of our goals for 2023:

  • We aim to provide $100,000 in scholarships, more than we’ve ever given in a single year.
  • We will again bring over 1,000 New Mexico students on outdoor treks; many of them will experience their own state’s beautiful National Forests and National Parks for the first time.
  • We are striving to set the standard for high-quality outdoor education staff, which means fair pay and more professional development. 
  • The Gulch Basecamp is magical and full of memories – we need financial resources to keep it that way, and make it even better.

In short, your donation will make a difference for our trekkers. In fact, it will give many of them their first opportunity to be trekkers. Generous donations from you and many others keep Cottonwood Gulch operating with top-quality staff, gear, and facilities. 

The Gulch is more than just a beautiful plot of land or a bustling group of young people learning about environmental stewardship.  It is an enduring group of thoughtful, engaged people. You are part of that community, and your donation will help make us even stronger. 

DSB,

Jordan Stone

Executive Director

P.S. Don’t just take my word for it, see the enclosed stories of Dena and Fred, two Gulch alumni who embody our values. To make a donation, please use the enclosed envelope or donate online at cottonwoodgulch.org/supportus. Thank you!

Fall 2022 Appeal – alumni interviews

These interviews were given voluntarily for a fundraising drive.

Prepared by Brad Jeffrey, Development Coordinator

On the Turquoise Trail, I remember the camaraderie of the other girls, and the group leaders were so knowledgeable.  It felt like home, and changed my life.  Today, our kids are deep into the Gulch, and it’s part of our family now.  I took what I learned at the Gulch everywhere with me, and my entire career has been devoted to the environment and sustainable agriculture.  I can’t imagine what the world would be without the Gulch, or the American Southwest without the Gulch.  But it’s even bigger because kids come and learn, then take that back with them to their homes, wherever they might live.  And that’s essential.   

Dena Leibman
Board of Trustees, 2017-2022
Staff, 1979 Base Camp Staff
Trekker, Turquoise Trail Expedition, 1973-75

My favorite memory with the Gulch was having my birthday cake out in the Gila.  It was with my first Little Outfit group, and our group leader was Henry Hooper.  I enjoy visiting campfires out at Basecamp, especially meeting the parents.  I like to try to inform them that this program is one that they can send their kids to.  Supporting the Gulch is important because there are a lot of families out there that really appreciate the help to pay for these programs, which help people.  It’s all about helping people.  Being out there in the outdoors and the wilderness, and practicing stewardship.  That’s what it’s all about.  

Fred Peter
Board of Trustees, 2020-2022
Trekker,  Little Outfit, 1978

Full interview with Dena 

Dena and her daughter, former Gulch trekker and staff, Antonia

Hi Dena, how’s it going?

  • Just got back home from the Board meeting, it was great!

How did you find out about Cottonwood Gulch?

  • In those days (60s-70s), the Gulch was based out of Indianapolis.  Mr Howie, Mr. Van, and Chet were teachers there.  I became a docent at the Children’s Museum in Indy, and the rest is history!

What are some of your favorite memories with the Gulch?

  • So many!  My most favorite were the campfire songs.  On the Turquoise Trail, I remember the camaraderie of the other girls, and the group leaders were so knowledgeable.  Like many trekkers, I was really into the outdoors, a little geeky, and felt like a fish out of water at home.   When I got to the Gulch, these were my people!  They had an awareness of the environment, and were teaching about the natural world around us.  It felt like home, and changed my life. 

How did your time with the Gulch impact your life today?  

  • After the Gulch, I headed out west to college in Colorado and Montana, and worked for the US Forest and Park Services for years in western National Parks.  I had kids, and sent them to the Gulch!  Our kids are deep into the Gulch, and it’s part of our family now.  They are moving their way up from trekkers to staff.  

What is your recent experience with the Gulch?

  • I’ve served on the board now for 5 years.  I took what I learned at the Gulch everywhere with me, and my entire career has been devoted to the environment and sustainable agriculture.  Service on the board helped lead a sustainable non-profit, as I learned how a board needs to deal with issues that arise.  

Why is supporting the Gulch important?  

  • I can’t imagine the world would be without the Gulch, or the American Southwest without the Gulch.  But it’s even bigger because kids come and learn, then take that back with them to their homes, wherever they might live.  And that’s essential.  It keeps people engaged with the Southwest, the Wilderness, and important issues in the West.  

You visited Basecamp this summer, how was it to be back?

  • I loved being there toward the end of summer, where I saw a creative, engaged, and bonded group of intelligent staff.  I heard stories of how they dealt with challenges and triumphs during the summer.  I am so impressed that the Gulch continues to grow, and give, where young and old can replenish their souls and contribute to this 100-year legacy.  

Do you have any advice for future trekkers?

  • Arrive, open your mind and your spirit, because this is your time.  It will go by quickly, so grab it and make the most of it.  Love it, and get back to it!

Full interview with Fred

Hi Fred, this is Brad from Cottonwood Gulch.  How’s it going?

  • Good, good, just getting ready to go camping out by Petrified Forest in Arizona, and then we have an elk hunt coming up.

How did you find out about Cottonwood Gulch?

  • I learned about the Gulch through the Henio family.  We spent a few summers near Coolidge, and then we’d make our way over to Basecamp to join the campfires.  I was intrigued with the camping and outdoor lifes they were living there.  

What are some of your favorite memories with the Gulch?

  • Having my birthday cake out in the Gila.  It was my first Little Outfit group, with Henry Hooper.  We’ve been seeing him ever since.  He was my main inspiration.  

How did your time with the Gulch impact your life today?  

  • I like to try to inform the younger parents that this program is one that they can send their kids to.  A lot of kids are just hanging out at home on the Res.  Sometimes people have to work, but if not, send them out and learn something different.  

What is your recent experience with the Gulch?

  • I helped out during volunteer day at Basecamp with some of the board members.  We had a campfire out there, and met other people, including some parents.  Meeting the parents was so cool, and I could already tell what trekkers would stick around and come back!  They all had so much energy.

What’s it like having trek groups stay on your property?

  • Oh, we love them!  We used to be down by the river and got eaten up by mosquitos.  Now, we have a place high up on the mesa to watch the sunset.  Last summer, we watched the sunset with the Turquoise Trail and Prairie Trek, and that was amazing!  It was so cool watching the sunset with the groups.  I like the vastness of our area in the Southwest.  Where  we  camp, we can see Mt Taylor, the Navajo mountain range, Sleeping Butte, the Llamadas, Wolf Creek pass… we can see it all.  We like to take them there and show them our livelihood.  

Why is supporting the Gulch important?  

  • There are a lot of families out there, especially with the cost of everything going up, that really appreciate the help to pay for these programs, which help people.  It’s all about helping people.  Being out there in the outdoors and the wilderness, and practicing stewardship.  That’s what it’s all about.  

Do you have any advice for future trekkers?

  • Stay on the trail.  We tell the kids that, and it takes time.  It’s just a good philosophy for life too, stay on the noble, humble path.  You’ll see all kinds of good stuff there too, and appreciate it.