Estes Park News – Local youth leave lasting impression at RMNP: Colorful mural in firefighters’ dorm

Building Rocky Mountain NP’s partnership with the Eagle Rock School in Estes Park, art class students of teachers Cynthia Elkins and Dayan Safferstein spent the past five weeks painting a mural of wildland firefighting scenes in the Alpine Interagency Hotshot Dormitory in the park.

The Eagle Rock Internship Program is a collaborative partnership between the park and the school, which provides an opportunity for a high school diploma to students who have not succeeded in traditional public schools. Building on the success of Eagle Rock’s Internship and Citizen Science classes, the art students learned how to work with clients, adopt and expand their vision, participate on a team with varied work styles, and finish an original work of art under a deadline.

The project was a new way to involve Eagle Rock students and to connect with new audiences and students who may never have thought about doing anything with the national parks. The mural project also provided a way for these youth to leave their mark on ROMO and show other students they, too, can get involved and leave a lasting impression.

The class was the idea of Paul Cerda, superintendent of the Alpine Interagency Hotshots, ROMO Research Learning Specialist Ben Baldwin and Eagle Rock School Outdoor Education Instructor Jon Anderson.

“We have worked together on several internships, classes and opportunities and thought this would be an interesting idea to use art to connect youth to the National Park Service,” Baldwin said.

The mural, which measures about 15 feet by 20 feet, was painted above the dorm kitchen in the main meeting area and dining room. It depicts typical scenes of wildland firefighting, including a sawyer cutting down a hazard tree, a crew hiking toward a wildfire for initial attack, and an air tanker dropping fire retardant. In the background, the art students painted a variety of park vegetation, including familiar park flowers and trees. Further in the stands Longs Peak, the park’s most iconic mountain.