Welcome Eriq Acosta, our new National Director!

by Eriq Acosta, National Director

Eriq Acosta

We are excited to introduce our supporters to our new National Director, Eriq Acosta! He will be working closely with our partner, Henry Red Cloud, on the Pine Ridge Reservation to keep our Tribal Renewable Energy Program running strong. Here’s a little bit about him:

I am a Mexican American Indian man whose education and life have spanned throughout the United States. My passion for working with young people and families has earned me many honors and speaking engagements promoting unconditional positive regard and strength-based programs for youth and families throughout the U.S.  When doing this work of my heart,  I am transparent, authentic, honest, and passionate about modeling principled behavior. With the support from many mentors, I realized the impact that this work provides Native American communities as an inspiration and guide to re-learning and recovering “multi-generational greatness.”

Eriq Acosta
Looking beyond myself to the future!

I earned my bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University and a master’s at Regis University where I excelled academically and socially. I have spent the majority of my career in the nonprofit sector: United American Indian Involvement, National Indian Youth Leadership Project, and Red Horse Nation, in urban areas and on reservations throughout the U.S. as a teacher, mentor, trainer, guide, and community member.

Currently, I hope to expand the healing work of Trees, Water & People based in Fort Collins, Colorado, by combining my gained experience throughout the years, and most importantly the wisdom of our elders. I will work to assist and learn from the many communities TWP serves, as well as to embrace the multi-generational greatness of Native American communities!

Welcome, Eriq! We know you will be a great addition to the TWP Family!

Richard Fox, Trees, Water & People’s co-founder and former Executive Director/National Director will be retiring after 19 years but will remain on staff to help Eriq transition to National Director through the end of the summer. Following his retirement, Richard will remain involved with TWP as a board member.

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Spring has Sprung with 15,000 Trees!

by Molly Geppert, Marketing Manager

After a long winter, we at Trees, Water & People (TWP) are excited to begin the planting season on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. This morning, we happily bid farewell to 15,000 Ponderosa Pine seedlings provided by the Colorado State Forest Service Nursery. These trees will help reforest areas burned by wildfires on Pine Ridge.

Planting the Ponderosas will sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gases, improve air and water quality, reduce soil erosion, reestablish wildlife habitat, and enhance ecosystem resiliency, while engaging Native Americans in the protection of their lands. One thousand of the seedlings were sent with special well wishes written on gardening stakes by the Earth Day patrons from TWP’s recent Earth Day event in Colorado with New Belgium Brewery and Topo Designs. The collaboration was a huge success and a whole lot of fun!

 

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Earth Day patrons wrote well wishes on garden stakes to be planted with their donated trees at New Belgium Brewery.

In addition to the trees, 1,000 veggie starters are also making the trip to South Dakota. The plants are destined for Solar Warrior Farm, an educational demonstration garden located at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center. Solar Warrior Farm produces native and traditional foods such as, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, corn, melons, peppers, carrots, and a variety of berries, all of which are harvested and distributed to local Lakota families.

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15,000 Ponderosa Pines and 1,000 veggie starters safely stowed for the trip to Pine Ridge.

Helping us plant all these trees and veggies is long-time supporter, Rob Beheady of BeHeady.com. Rob has been raising funds to plant trees with TWP for many years through the sale of his beautiful steel drums. We are so grateful to have his help and support!

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Sending off the trees with the well wishes from the Colorado Earth Day event. (Pictured from left to right: Richard Fox, Amanda Haggerty, Molly Geppert, and Rob Beheady)

If you would like to help us plant trees on the Pine Ridge Reservation, please make a donation to our Tribal Reforestation program.

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TWP Celebrates 10th Birthday on Earth Day

For the last 10 years, every day has been Earth Day for one organization in Fort Collins. So fittingly on April 22nd, Trees, Water & People will celebrate its 10th birthday on the same day as the global environmental observance known as Earth Day.

Co-founders Stuart Conway and Richard Fox began Trees, Water & People (TWP) with the mission to improve people’s lives by helping them to conserve, protect, and manage the natural resources upon which their long term well-being depends. Together with the help of a dedicated staff and Board of Directors, Conway and Fox have delivered impressive results with no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Internationally, TWP has built 25,000 fuel-efficient cook stoves throughout Central America and Haiti, preventing more than 175,000 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into our atmosphere. Compared to traditional open fire stoves, the improved stove uses 70% less wood, vents 90% of the toxic smoke out of the home, and reduces carbon emissions by a minimum of 1 metric ton per year. In 2005, TWP’s fuel-efficient stove project won the prestigious Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy presented in London by HRH Prince Charles. Other work in Central America includes the planting of more than 2 million trees and the creation of 7 tree nurseries to aid in reforestation efforts.

Work with Native American families on Tribal lands has also been a focus of TWP. They have installed more than 200 efficient solar heating systems on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in South Dakota as part of their Tribal Lands Program. The solar heaters warm homes during frigid winter months while reducing energy bills by 20-30% for 2-3 decades. In 2007, TWP helped establish Lakota Solar Enterprises; one of the first and only 100% Native American owned and operated renewable energy businesses. In addition, TWP has conducted nearly 30 renewable energy workshops and demonstration installations on 10 reservations across the Great Plains.

On the regional level, TWP provides training and organizational support for watershed protection groups. With a focus on leadership development and fundraising, they offer workshops, individual training, staff evaluations, capacity building, and outreach assistance to the grassroots organizations working to preserve the quality and quantity of the water in the arid West.

This spring, TWP’s local Clean Energy Program will unveil its new SunMobile. This innovative traveling education tool will travel to Northern Colorado schools and community events educating students and residents about clean, renewable energy. The Clean Energy Program is also busy helping to install a 10kW photovoltaic system on the new Bethke Elementary as part of our “Renewables on Schools” initiative. This unit will provide about 10% of the building’s power during the school year and all of it during the summer months.

Over the past 10 years, Trees, Water & People has accomplished great things and looks forward to continuing their commitment to living every day like it’s Earth Day

Here are some numbers from the last ten years:

2,000,000 trees planted
+175,000 tons of carbon offset by fuel-efficient stoves
+115,000 people with reduced indoor air pollution
+25,000 fuel-efficient stoves built
+850 natural wind-breaks & shade trees planted
+202 watershed protection groups assisted
+200 solar heating systems installed
+175 local tree plantings organized
+97 watershed protection trainings hosted
+28 renewable energy workshops hosted
+10 tribal lands with renewable energy applications installed
+8 successful annual fundraising events
+7 international tree nurseries established
+3 outdoor science classrooms created with the City of Fort Collins
+1 SunMobile – traveling energy education for Northern Colorado

= One Organization Working For A Sustainable Future