The Olympic value of friendship is an important one here in Olympic City USA, and throughout the month of January, we are highlighting the people, organizations, and stories that embody this value. In the world’s largest sports competition, it looks like the friendship countries offer to each other at the Opening Ceremonies or on the field of play, but here in Colorado Springs, it looks like neighbors welcoming new residents to the neighborhood, strangers comforting those with great personal loss, or organizations promoting and protecting the natural resources we are privileged to have here. One such organization is the Friends of Garden of the Gods (FOGG), and President Scott Hente took the time to answer our questions on the organization and his involvement.
Question: Why did you decide to get involved personally?
Answer: Both my wife and I have a great affinity for the many parks and trails here in the Pikes Peak region. As we live close to the Garden of the Gods and hike there a lot, I thought it only fitting that I volunteer so as to "payback" the many times we have enjoyed it. Also, it is an honor to say that I serve with the Friends group for the greatest municipal park in the country!
Question: Garden of the Gods has millions of visitors to the park every year. What are the ways you are encouraging those visitors to embody friendship to the park and the natural resources within it?
Answer: Many FOGG members volunteer as guides, hiking leaders, and visitor assistants within the Park. We treat those various volunteer activities as a way to share our love for the park, to discuss its history, and to respect the many natural features.
Question: What are some of your primary initiatives or programs FOGG focus on?
Answer: Our single biggest activity is our relationship with the Rocky Mountain Field Institute and the work they are doing with regards to maintaining the trails. This includes surveys of current conditions and actual maintenance (assisted by many FOGG volunteers) of the trails themselves. We also sponsor school field trips to the park and fund various improvements. Some of these improvements have been the installation of permanent picnic tables and benches and our recent Gateway to Geology Journey through Time project.
Question: What have you found to be the most surprising benefit of trying to steward this incredible park?
Answer: Meeting with people, from around the world, who have read about the Park and want to see it for themselves. Living here, it is sometimes to easy to take the Park for granted and it is very rewarding to meet people who have traveled to see it. I love meeting with them and talking about the Park!
Question: What do you think are primary ingredients in being a good friend to our environment, other organizations, or to other people?
Answer: Just a simple appreciation for our natural assets and a desire to see them improved and maintained for our residents, visitors, and future generations.
Question: Is there an instance where you were able to overcome differences with another organization that ended up benefiting both parties?
Answer: Because the Garden of the Gods has a world-class reputation and is loved by our community, I don't find that we encounter differences with other organizations. I can say this personally in that I also serve on the Boards of the Garden of the Gods Foundation and the Trails and Open Space Coalition and everyone is committed to doing what is best for the Park!