For everyone at Osprey, our commitment to the environment doesn’t end with the support of various nonprofit partners who dedicate themselves to conservation, sustainability, environmental awareness and continuous efforts to preserve the great outdoors.
This commitment is something that we also work to embody as a group. Each year, Osprey Packs has a tradition of acting on this commitment with our “Adopt-A-Highway” program with CDOT. Come fall, when the leaves in Southwest Colorado begin to change and the warmer temperatures begin to drop, we offer the opportunity to all Osprey employees to join our 3 hour annual cleanup along Highway 145. This particular stretch of road takes you from the Osprey HQ in Cortez, CO to Dolores, CO — which is home to many Osprey employees — and up to our beloved winter playground of Telluride, CO. As Osprey employees, participation in this group effort stems not only from our a commitment to doing our part to take care of Mother Nature, but also because of the sentimental value attached to this annual tradition. This year we had a great turnout with 14 Osprey employees participating! Osprey’s Diane Wren, passionate advocate for the environment (be sure to read her op-ed on Public Lands), co-owner of Osprey Packs and wife of our own Mike Pfotenhauer explains why this program is important to her on a personal level and talks about the 2015 Hwy Cleanup.
How many years has Osprey Packs been doing the Hwy clean-up?
DW: Osprey Packs has been a part of the CDOT “Adopt A Highway” program for almost 15 consecutive years. We adopted a section of highway right outside the small town of Dolores which was home to the original Osprey factory and now home to many of our employees.
What motivated Osprey Packs to take on this community service?
DW: I don’t really remember, but it is a stretch of road we all pass en route to the mountains that needed clean-up support. The mountains are part of our outdoor natural community and so is the road!
How long have you been participating in the Hwy clean-up and why is it so special to you?
DW: For me there is something satisfying about tidying up almost anything! It’s fun to be outside in the beautiful autumn weather with your co-workers (teammates) ambling along looking for interesting and not-so-interesting trash while cleaning up our roads and forests. It really is another form of hiking!
What are some interesting items you have found during the clean-up?
DW: Today Michael H. found a fishing rod, also found were boxers, panties and lots of alcohol bottles! Susan found a box of unused ear plugs. Last year I found an old tape recorder with a tape jammed in it…too bad we couldn’t get it out so we could listen to it. The usual items are beer bottles/cans and of course skoal.
Why would you encourage others to get involved in this type of program?
DW: Team building, fun exercise, clean up our environment and give back to our community.
About Diane Wren – Co-Owner of Osprey Packs
I’ve been with Osprey since 1985 and have been of “Jill of all trades” CS, finance and shipping in the early days.… I have always been and still am involved in Leadership – deciding the course
of the company. I am also a member of the HR Department. I do
support Mike of course but I take my roles seriously in the company. I am still an avid day hiker and love hiking the canyons of CO and Utah as well as exploring urban landscapes.
Last Thursday evening, a group of Osprey volunteers hopped into our silver Dodge mini van, loaded down with gear and clothing for what was to be a wet, snowy weekend just outside Boulder, CO, and departed for an event called The Backyard Collective.
The BYC is an effort of The Conservation Alliance, which brings together member company employees (in this case, Osprey, La Sportiva, etc.) and local grantees for a day of environmental action. Projects include trail work, invasive species removal and other opportunities for us to get out of the office and get our hands dirty doing good work to preserve and protect the open spaces in our own backyards.
At this event in particular, there were a few new volunteers (myself included), and we were all anxious to arrive, layer up, get our boots muddy and do our part to help the Boulder community that’s very much in need.
During the more than seven-hour drive from our Cortez headquarters, I thought quite a bit about what trail work really means — and what it would mean for me at this event. The first image that came up was of myself swinging a pickaxe on some dry single track with a weathered pair of leather gloves, sun shining on the hillside with an epic view of early high-altitude snowfall, and a deep blue sky filled with puffy clouds that seem close enough to run across. Then, I imagined, I’d break for a morning Clif bar and refill my green tin cup with a few more ounces of hot John Wayne-style coffee. Oh, I imagined, it’d sure be glorious and rewarding. That’s the definition of trail work right?
We awoke Friday to a rain-snow mix and temps in the low 30s. We sorted our way through a light morning commute toward Broomfield, made a quick stop for coffee and finally arrived at the Carolyn Holmberg Preserve at Rock Creek Farm. After an initial meet-and-greet and a disbursement of tools, we received our group assignment and grabbed the wheelbarrows to head down the path.
The expected turnout of 20 people was a sure underestimation of our group’s commitment to help The Conservation Alliance. I took a quick count of about 50 people dressed in Gore-Tex rain shells, with hats pulled over their ears and smiles on their faces as they huddled around the free hot chocolate.
The trails here at the farm have been closed for some time, and after our work, nearly 125,000 people will regain access to them. We worked seamlessly with great instruction — and nearly four hours later, noticed that we had created one thousand feet of new path for the locals to enjoy. Six hundred more feet was our initial task. We crushed it. My hands were sore, my back a little tight, but I didn’t quite feel exhausted or fulfilled like I had originally anticipated the week before. Hmm…
For myself, I think there were a few greater questions and lessons that I took away from the morning. I certainly contemplated my self-interests in the volunteer day. Why did I really sign up to help? To feel good? To get out of work for a day? It’s cliché to say ‘to help those in need’, but maybe it was just as simple as that?
The reality of the work and location was nothing like the perfect Colorado day I had imagined when I signed up and stepped away from my desk. It frankly reminded me of the days growing up in Michigan and having to help a relative with chores around their acreage. It was flat, grey and damp. Turns out, it didn’t matter.
As the weekend continued in the hustle of downtown Denver, I looked around watching other’s interactions in the city, and it seemed as though our efforts began to sink in on another level. We all love nature for different reasons. Whether we’re taking a personal break from our jobs, on a vacation we’ve filled the money jar with for a few months or simply heading out of town with a group of friends to have great stories to share on Monday morning: it’s all the same.
I realized it doesn’t matter where the trail leads or what the view is. It’s a trail, which means it’s an opportunity to be outside: and it’s that simple. It’s a way to improve someone’s day whether it is used on a lunch break walk or the start of a multi-week adventure of not regularly washing your hair. Whatever the function, we took time out of our lives, our weekends, our days, to help something and someone else. Each of us is capable of, if we so choose, taking advantage of these small opportunities to positively impact the places that we love. And more importantly, help places that other people love.
Tim Calkins / Senior Graphic Designer Osprey Packs
If you spend any time climbing in Minnesota, make sure to take a day this year to give a climbing crag some love. The good folks at Minnesota Climbers Association have a ton of great clean-ups happening this year. These are a great way for climbers to get involved in the community, and allows us to give back and help keep the areas we frequent clean and beautiful.
Visit the Minnesota Climbers events page for details… What are you waiting for? Mark your calendar and take part!
PHOTO courtesy Apex Adventure Alliance, LLC.