Congrats to Kelsey King for joining Colorado Open Lands as a GOCO fellow this November! The GOCO Fellowship Program supports positions at our partner organizations to prepare young people for careers in the outdoors. GOCO fellows gain experience in the fields of conservation, outdoor recreation, and stewardship while growing a professional skill set to apply to future endeavors.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hello! I’m Kelsey. I originally hail from the east coast, but Colorado became home as soon as I headed north on I-25 on my way to Colorado State University freshman orientation. (There was much more open space then, and the view of the Rocky Mountains left me speechless even at that distance). I worked nationally and internationally for the last 15 years in environmental education. I have really enjoyed my time working with youth, instilling stewardship in our future generations, and I am thrilled to switch gears into the world of land conservation!

KK​What’s been one of the best experiences of your life so far? 

I moved to Yangshuo, China to build outdoor education curriculum in 2016 and stayed for two years. Learning the language and culture and building curriculum for students who have different learning objectives was an incredible experience for me. It has helped me understand perspective more deeply, that there is not just one right way, and that I will always have a lot to learn. Though I mention China first, I am thankful for all my travels. It has humbled me immensely in the best ways.

What do you most hope to learn through the fellowship experience?

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude answering this question. For so long now I have been fascinated with water rights in Colorado, as well as land protection as I see more and more housing developments built all throughout the state. GOCO has given me the opportunity to learn about this and so much more as a Conservation Fellow with Colorado Open Lands (COL). COL works with ranchers, farmers, recreationists, over all party lines and across family generations. I admire their openminded and inclusive perspective on land conservation and people in general. I have seen the employees at COL work really hard and make time for laughter. It’s notable everyone really likes each other! 

How do you think the outdoors contributes to communities or to individuals’ quality of life?

The outdoors helps me slow down. My eyes appreciate the reprieve from screens, my body appreciates the change in posture as I sit up straighter or look at the sky, my lungs appreciate the fresh air we get on most days, and the list goes on and on. It is a gift, and through land protection and education I hope it is something more Coloradans will have access to in the future.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside?

I really love to ride my mountain bike all year long. Sometimes I miss the beauty when moving that fast, so I like to make time for wildflower season in the high alpine. For many years I hiked from Aspen to Crested Butte on my birthday in late July; it really felt like the flowers were out as a birthday present!

Got a personal passion? 

My new role at Colorado Open Lands is actually serendipitous to a passion of mine that started many years ago. As I traveled through developing nations, I remember thinking I’d like to help them preserve some of this land. That they were growing too quickly to make decisions around parks, public access, preserved land, and so on. The lightbulb only recently went off that I don’t need to go abroad to make that kind of positive impact on the land and in communities. Colorado needs that protection just as much as anywhere else. Not only do I get to do the work I’ve been wanting to do for so long, but I get to work on land that means so much to me.