“The mountains are calling and I must go,” wrote naturalist and writer John Muir.
And the mountains called and the people came, despite showers and reverberating thunder, to celebrate Walking Mountains Science Center at the Reach for the Peak award dinner held on Thursday at the school’s campus in Avon. “Nature Nurtures” was the theme, and several stations were set up with experiential learning for the guests on meditation, local plants as aromatherapy and healing plants.
Penny and Bill George were the honorees. Through the support of the George Family Foundation over the past eight years, the school built a state-of-the-art educational facility, the George Meadow Learning Center.
Penny’s passion is in transforming medicine with a holistic approach focusing on the integration of mind, body and spirit. She has started programs, including the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing in Minneapolis. Bill has led several companies, including Litton Industries, Honeywell and Medtronic. He is passionate about leadership, has published several books on leadership and is a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School. They believe in giving back to the communities where they live and visit.
“It’s very important that the students of the valley and those from out of state have an appreciation for the environment,” said Bill George. “Without the young people learning about our land, there may be no environment in the future.”
Penny concurred. “Everyone needs a chance to experience what nature is all about,” she said. “The children will be running the valley. It’s important they have a sense of place of here.”
Originally founded in 1998 by Kim Langmaid, Walking Mountains took root in the county as Gore Range Natural Science School in a small building in Red Cliff. The magnificent campus, which opened in 2011 is located in a pristine setting north of Interstate 70 in Avon on land donated by the Tang family. Not only the county’s school children but also adults and visitors benefit annually from their many programs including the STEM Leadership Academy, programs for graduate students, nature hikes, winter snowshoes and much more.
Nancy Ricca, who splits time between New Jersey and Vail, was drawn to Walking Mountains early in her Vail residence.
“There are a lot places to put your dollars in the valley, but this is one organization that lines up what I love: hiking, nature and learning. Walking Mountains puts me in touch with the reason I came here in the first place.”
Alpine Bank stepped up as a major sponsor. Claggett-Rey Galleries donated the exceptional wines being poured from Twomey Cellars and Silver Oak. After the presentations and dinner provided by Vail Catering Concepts, the guests danced to the music of the Diamond Empire Band.