Volunteer, explore music,  plan for a race,  get screened

What do you like to do in your spare time? Take a walk on the wild side? Listen to music? Go for a bike ride? If you live in northern Colorado—or if you’re visiting—you can gain or nurture a love of nature, culture and bicycling in many ways in 2015. 

To enjoy fun activities, it helps to be healthy and safe, too. Many local and state organizations provide services to help residents do both. To learn more about health and human services in NoCo, simply dial 2-1-1 to speak to a highly trained information and referral specialist.

Inspire curiosity for nature 
Interested in inspiring curiosity for the natural world in children and adults? Larimer County Natural Resources needs new Volunteer Naturalists to teach school groups, lead hikes and interact with the public at Larimer County’s parks and open spaces. Programs include ecology, geology, local history and more.

An in-depth training is set to begin March 4. Application deadline is Feb. 27. If you’re interested in volunteering but can’t commit to the full training, a Volunteer Naturalist Assistant Training will be held Tuesday, April 14, 6-9pm.

For more information, contact Heather Young at or 970-619-4489.

Explore music
The Fort Collins Symphony Guild invites the public to visit the 2014 Musical Zoo. It’s a once-a-year adventure in the arts, especially music, for the young (children ages of 3 to 12 years) and the young at heart.

This year's event will be held on Sunday, Feb. 15, 2:30-5:30pm, at Timberline Church, 2908 Timberline Road, Fort Collins. Tickets are $2 per person; children 2 years old or younger are free. The ticket price includes all activities and events, as well as refreshments. 

The Zoo features: 

  • A variety of performers, like strolling musicians, "street dancers," face painters, a stilt walker, a juggler and a mime
  • Short performances by a flamenco dancer and guitarist, a jazz ensemble, and area middle and high school music groups
  • A Petting Zoo filled with musical instruments that will be demonstrated or available for participants to try
  • A display of international musical instruments and a middle school art exhibit. 

The crescendo of the Musical Zoo will be “Tryrannosaurus Sue: A Cretaceous Concerto” performed by members of the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra, directed by Maestro Wes Kenney, narrated by its composer Bruce Adolphe and interpreted by dancers from the Canyon Concert Ballet. 

“Audience participation is encouraged in all the parts and performances of the Musical Zoo,” says Susan Greer, one of the event organizers. “We want people to experience a variety of musical traditions, styles and ethnicities in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.” 

For details, visit www.fcsymphonyguild.org/education.

NoCo chosen to host bike race
Stage 6 of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge, also called “America’s Race,” will take professional bicycle racers from Loveland to Fort Collins by a circuitous route that will include many miles, hills and spectacular views.

Race organizers asked fans to help determine the start and finish locations for Stage 6. Thousands submitted their opinions through the USA Pro Challenge Facebook page and website providing more than 20 start and finish city options. In the end, nearly half the responses encouraged a return to northern Colorado, which hosted Stage 6 in 2013. 

USA Pro Challenge fan Michael DePalma wanted a return to northern Colorado saying it, "offers some of the most spectacular cycling opportunities in the state." Many other fans spoke to returning to areas that were greatly damaged in the 2013 floods. Loveland resident Gary Crews says the Pro Challenge will, "help us further recover from the flooding and put a smile on the face of riders and residents alike."

“Loveland and Fort Collins have been such great host cities in the past and we’re looking forward to visiting them again,” says Shawn Hunter, USA Pro Challenge CEO. 

Scheduled to take place Aug. 17-23, the host cities and stages of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge include:

    Stage 1: Monday, Aug. 17 – Steamboat Springs Circuit Race

    Stage 2: Tuesday, Aug. 18 – Steamboat Springs to Arapahoe Basin

    Stage 3: Wednesday, Aug. 19 – Copper Mountain Resort to Aspen

    Stage 4: Thursday, Aug. 20 – Aspen to Breckenridge

    Stage 5: Friday, Aug. 21 – Breckenridge Individual Time Trial

    Stage 6: Saturday, Aug. 22 – Loveland to Fort Collins

    Stage 7: Sunday, Aug. 23 – Golden to Denver

More information can be found online at www.USAProCyclingChallenge.com and on Twitter at @USAProChallenge.

An ounce of prevention 
The Health District of Northern Larimer County offers many low- or no-cost services to help district residents (and sometimes non-district residents) stay healthy. The boundaries of the district encompass the northern two-thirds of Larimer County and include the cities of Fort Collins, Laporte, Timnath, Wellington, Livermore and Red Feather Lakes. You can view the Health District boundary map to see if you live within the district.

In recognition of American Heart Month, the Health District is offering free cholesterol tests in February to all district residents. The cost ordinarily is $15. The test includes results for total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides and blood glucose, as well as a blood-pressure check and interpretation of test results by a registered nurse. Appointments are strongly recommended. A complete list of screening dates and locations is available at healthdistrict.org/heart or by calling 970-224-5209. 

A new Step Free from Tobacco class is running Wednesdays, 6pm, through Feb. 18 at the Health District offices located at 120 Bristlecone Drive, Fort Collins. The six-week class, led by a master-level certified tobacco treatment specialist, began Jan. 14, but participants can miss the first one. Participants receive free nicotine patches, gum or lozenges. The cost for district residents is $10-$100 per person, depending on income; non-residents pay $100. A "buddy discount" of 25 percent is available for district residents who enroll with a friend or relative. Call 970-224-5209 or visit healthdistrict.org/quitsmoking.

If you need dental work, check out Dental Connections is another service of the Health District. It assists local residents who have modest incomes, but have trouble affording dental care. Qualifying patients are matched with a local private dentist and pay a low sliding fee.

The program is open to Larimer County residents whose household income does not exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty level (about $29,000 for an individual or $59,000 for a family of four). That limit is higher than what is allowed for many other public health-care programs. Call 970-493-3366 or visit healthdistrict.org/dental-connections.

State launches child abuse and neglect hotline
The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) launched a new statewide child abuse and neglect hotline –1-844-CO-4-KIDS—on Jan. 1. Governor Hickenlooper’s Child Welfare Plan “Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy” called for the creation of the hotline to promote greater safety for Colorado’s children.

Designed to provide one, easy-to-remember phone number for individuals statewide to use to report suspected child abuse and neglect, the hotline serves as a direct, immediate and efficient route to Colorado’s 64 counties and two tribal nations, which are responsible for accepting and responding to child abuse and neglect inquiries and reports. All callers will be able to speak with a call taker 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

“Everyone in the community plays a role in the prevention of child abuse and neglect,” says Reggie Bicha, CDHS executive director. “The statewide hotline is one more tool to help us keep kids safe and families healthy.”

The new hotline system will capture critical information and ensure that calls across the state are handled quickly and appropriately with the ultimate goal of ensuring that no child is harmed.

To learn more about the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, go to www.colorado.gov/cdhs.