Business name: Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES)
Address: 100 Puppy Smith St., Aspen, CO 81611
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Social media: @acesaspen (Instagram/Twitter), @aspencenterfor environmentalstudies (Facebook)
Aspen Times: How have you gotten creative during this time? What have you done to keep your customers engaged?
ACES: We have worked hard to adapt our summer programs and events to bring our community new and unique ways to connect and learn about the natural world. Our summer lineup is full of smaller, more intimate programs and events. We are hosting a new series — Picnic Mondays: Weekly Membership Dinners — where we invite our members to join us in bringing a picnic to Hallam Lake and enjoy our natural surroundings. If you have never been to our Birds of Prey program, we invite you to join us this summer as we celebrate the “Summer of Raptors” at ACES. Our Sunset Beaver Walks, Wild Yoga and Know Your Trees programs are also great activities to do with friends and family. Now is also the time to check out ACES’ birding programs and art classes, which are held throughout the summer. At Rock Bottom Ranch, we have been increasing our agricultural production to make sure we can supply our community with healthy, sustainable food at Aspen and Carbondale Farmer’s Markets, Skip’s Market in Basalt, and a new CSA offering. Rock Bottom Ranch is now open and farm tours are offered Thursday to Saturday at 11 a.m. You can register for all these programs in advance at http://www.aspennnature.org.
AT: What’s the most important thing the community can do to support you?
ACES: Participate in our programs! We invite locals and visitors alike to join us for our landmark exploratory programs and hikes this summer. Every summer for more than 30 years, ACES naturalists have been at the top of Maroon Bells, Snowmass and Aspen Mountain giving community tours that dive deep into the ecology and history of our area. We also rely on memberships and donations to operate, and all of these revenue streams have been impacted. Making a donation, renewing your membership or joining as a new member directly supports our operations and makes it possible for us to continue our work in ecological literacy, regenerative agriculture, forest and ecosystem health, and environmental leadership.
AT: Where can we find your most current offerings and updates?
ACES: Our website is the best way to learn about current offerings and sign up for our programs. Check back regularly to see new offerings and expanded hours at our three sites: Hallam Lake Nature Preserve in the heart of Aspen, Rock Bottom Ranch in Basalt and the Catto Center at Toklat at the headwaters of the Castle Creek Valley.
AT: What has been the best customer experience or comment you’ve had since the crisis started?
ACES: One of the silver linings to come out of this whole crisis is that people all across the country are spending more time outside in nature, noticing how good being in nature can make us feel. The sounds of the birds, the scent of the trees, the sunlight playing through the leaves — these things give us a sense of comfort during uncertain times. We have seen bird-watching surge in popularity during the pandemic. It’s easy to start, and you can do it anywhere — even from inside, and even in urban spaces. We have heard amazing feedback from people who have shared peaceful moments at our weekly membership picnics, like watching the geese nestle down for the night, muskrats cruising around the lake, myriad warblers, and ospreys flying overhead with the setting sun seen through the fairy dust of cotton and hatching bugs. This slower time has the power to make us better stewards of our natural space, as well as give us peace and calm to see that even though our rhythm is interrupted, there is a larger rhythm that continues to go on.
AT: Is there anything else you’d like to add regarding your business during the pandemic?
ACES: In this uncertain, tense time, one thing remains constant and that is the power of the natural world to offer comfort, inspiration, refuge and beauty. We want to thank all of you who, as supporters and community members, allow ACES to pursue our mission of environmental education and stewardship. All of us at ACES are profoundly grateful. The importance of a healthy environment for everyone has never been more evident than right now, and we look forward to seeing you and your families at our sites and programs this summer.