DENVER- The GOCO board has awarded $560,455 in funding to three nonprofit land trust organizations across the state through the first round of GOCO’s Fellowship program. The land trusts will use the grants to hire four fellows in all.

The new program pairs young people from diverse backgrounds with outdoor organizations to gain two years of meaningful experience in the fields of conservation, outdoor recreation, or stewardship. Fellows will help complete priority projects while learning about the mission and work of their respective organizations. The program will reduce barriers to careers in natural resources and the outdoors and create new opportunities for young people.

This inaugural round will support three of GOCO’s land trust partners that have experience with hosting fellows in the past. In the future, GOCO plans to expand the program to include local government entities to help provide young people interested in this field with meaningful opportunities. 

Host organizations will begin recruiting for fellows in the spring and hope to have new hires in place by early summer. 

Grantees include:  

Colorado Open Lands (COL), $127,740 grant

The COL fellow will receive on-the-job training in a wide range of land and water conservation projects across the state, from the protection of large private ranches and important wildlife habitats, to smaller community-focused projects involving public access and land stewardship. Senior staff members in the Salida office will mentor the fellow and encourage participation in all areas of the organization’s work.  

Montezuma Land Conservancy (MLC), $132,715 grant

In recent years, MLC has expanded its focus from traditional land conservation transactions to include community engagement programs through the organization’s education center, Fozzie’s Farm, and its role in leading the Montezuma Inspire Coalition, part of Generation Wild. To support this evolution, MLC plans to work with a specialist in conservation communications to improve its outreach to donors, members, and the general public. The GOCO-supported fellow will use the strategies and findings from this effort to build a more robust communications and marketing campaign for the organization. 

Trust for Public Land (TPL), $300,000 grant

This funding will support the hiring of two fellows to work on TPL’s outreach efforts in Denver’s southwest and northeast neighborhoods and in the southeast community of Colorado Springs. This effort is part of the organization’s larger Community Outreach with Resident Experts (CORE) program. TPL aims to listen to and engage with local residents in order to collectively envision and create the outdoor spaces the communities need to thrive. TPL and its partners will identify rising leaders from the areas and hire fellows with a passion for community engagement and a belief in the transformational effects of equitable access to the outdoors. With mentorship from community partners, fellows will work with residents to determine priorities and advance park, trail, and green infrastructure projects in their own neighborhoods. Fellows will also work closely with youth cohorts in their regions and serve as a liaison between TPL and the broader communities. 

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,300 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit for more information.