Walking Mountains Science Center nearing 20 years of educational stewardship | VailDaily.com

Walking Mountains Science Center nearing 20 years of educational stewardship

Carolyn Pope
High Altitude Society

Walking Mountains Science Center is a nonprofit success story in Vail.

First created as Gore Range Natural Science School in 1998 by Kim Langmaid, who grew up in Vail, the grassroots organization with the mission "to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education" has grown from a tiny school house in Red Cliff to a flourishing center north of Avon.

The school was founded with the purpose of educating local children in the environment around their home and help instill in them a protectiveness of our nature and the knowledge of how to maintain it.

Now, Walking Mountains offers year-round programming at four locations to more than 4,000 students annually in 23 public and private schools located throughout the Eagle Valley. Their programs are a necessary experience for students that might not otherwise engage in hands on science learning in the outdoors.

In addition, Walking Mountains serves more than 28,000 residents and visitors in the Vail Valley through engaging adult and family programs in natural science and sustainability offered in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Vail Resorts, Vail Recreation District, town of Vail, Eagle County and others.

'It gave me a challenge'

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Earlier this summer, Walking Mountains hosted its annual fundraising celebratory dinner that honors two people in the valley who have been instrumental in environmental education and supporting the organization.

This year, Emeritus Board Member Alan Danson received the Reach for the Peak Award, which honors those whom exemplify transformational leadership and enduring commitment.

Danson has been involved with Walking Mountains for 16 years.

Back in 2001, Kathy Borgen encouraged Danson to meet with Langmaid, and has been hooked ever since. Danson came from working in venture capital, primarily with smaller companies.

"Walking Mountains was like a startup company, and I thought that I could help them from my experience," he said. "I had just retired and this turned out to be exactly what I needed as a transition; to use the same skills I had been using to build smallish companies to build a small nonprofit."

"I've taken more out of this relationship than I've put into it," he continued. "It gave me a challenge that I knew exactly how to deal with it. We had financial issues, so the first thing we did was get a much stronger development process going and started reaching out to our donor base and the community. After all, what's the difference between reaching out to investors or reaching out to donors?"

He is impressed with the quality of people that now make up the staff and board of the organization. Danson was an integral part of the capital campaign, which raised the money to build the current campus, which couldn't have been done without the generous donation of land by Oscar Tang and his family.

"During our capital campaign, we brought in a professional raising money," Danson said. "He said we could only raise about 3.5 million dollars (of the nine million needed). "We were a train moving forward; we sat around and said, 'that's fine, we don't care.' We had the momentum. He was looking backwards, we were looking forward."

That's the reason Walking Mountains has been successful; a motivated, passionate staff and board that refuses to set limits for themselves. They are dreamers who believe in their mission, and have the determination to go out and make it happen.

"Alan lives the Walking Mountains mission: from being an avid outdoor enthusiast to attending countless Walking Mountains educational programs to serving in an active role on committees," said Scott Robinson, marketing and communications director. "He is the consummate advocate for natural science education and environmental sustainability and stewardship. His passion for the mission is exemplified by his favorite motto, 'better students today, better stewards tomorrow.'"

Educating local kids

Former Superintendent of Eagle County Schools Dr. Jason Glass received the Founder's Stewardship Award for actively demonstrating Walking Mountains' mission through his vision and leadership in the educational field and in promoting science education.

Glass was honored for his vision for Eagle County Schools that led to numerous achievements during his four years with the district. He was instrumental in securing a long-term, collaborative partnership with Walking Mountains, ensuring enhanced science education opportunities for all Eagle County students. Glass began his new job as superintendent of Jeffco Schools this summer.

"We partner with Walking Mountains because of the integrity with which they approach outdoor science education," Glass said. "They adhere to the scientific method and ignite curiosity that is already present in our kids."

The dinner was sponsored by Kathy and Bjorn Borgen, the Precourt family, Mary Sue and Mike Shannon, Ann Smead and Michael Byram and the Tang family.

The committee included Karen and John Arnold, Kelly and Sam Bronfman, Kathy and Dave Ferguson, Craig Foley, Susan and Harry Frampton, Argie Ligeros and Pat Tierney, Jenny and Philip Maritz, Alix Berglund, Sunny Brodsky, Jane Johnson, Kathy Kimmel, Gail Mahoney and Tammy Schiff.

For more information, visit the Walking Mountains website at http://www.walkingmountains.org.

Walking Mountains Science Center is a nonprofit success story in Vail.

First created as Gore Range Natural Science School in 1998 by Kim Langmaid, who grew up in Vail, the grassroots organization with the mission “to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education” has grown from a tiny school house in Red Cliff to a flourishing north of Avon.

The school was founded with the purpose of educating local children in the environment around their home and help instill in them a protectiveness of our nature and the knowledge of how to maintain it.

Now, Walking Mountains offers year-round programming at four locations to more than 4,000 students annually in 23 public and private schools located throughout the Eagle Valley. Their programs are a necessary experience for students that might not otherwise engage in hands on science learning in the outdoors.

In addition, Walking Mountains serves over 28,000 residents and visitors in the Vail Valley through engaging adult and family programs in natural science and sustainability offered in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Vail Resorts, Vail Recreation District, town of Vail, Eagle County and others.

‘It gave me a challenge’

Earlier this summer, Walking Mountains hosted its annual fundraising celebratory dinner that honors two people in the valley who have been instrumental in environmental education and supporting the organization.

This year, Emeritus Board Member Alan Danson received the Reach for the Peak Award, which honors those whom exemplify transformational leadership and enduring commitment.

Danson has been involved with Walking Mountains for 16 years.

Back in 2001, Kathy Borgen encouraged Danson to meet with Langmaid, and has been hooked ever since. Danson came from working in venture capital, primarily with smaller companies.

“Walking Mountains was like a startup company, and I thought that I could help them from my experience,” he said. “I had just retired and this turned out to be exactly what I needed as a transition; to use the same skills I had been using to build smallish companies to build a small nonprofit.”

“I’ve taken more out of this relationship than I’ve put into it,” he continued. “It gave me a challenge that I knew exactly how to deal with it. We had financial issues, so the first thing we did was get a much stronger development process going and started reaching out to our donor base and the community. After all, what’s the difference between reaching out to investors or reaching out to donors?”

He is impressed with the quality of people that now make up the staff and board of the organization. Danson was an integral part of the capital campaign, which raised the money to build the current campus, which couldn’t have been done without the generous donation of land by Oscar Tang and his family.

“During our capital campaign, we brought in a professional raising money,” Danson said. “He said we could only raise about 3.5 million dollars (of the nine million needed). “We were a train moving forward; we sat around and said, ‘that’s fine, we don’t care.’ We had the momentum. He was looking backwards, we were looking forward.”

That’s the reason Walking Mountains has been successful; a motivated, passionate staff and board that refuses to set limits for themselves. They are dreamers who believe in their mission, and have the determination to go out and make it happen.

“Alan lives the Walking Mountains mission: from being an avid outdoor enthusiast to attending countless Walking Mountains educational programs to serving in an active role on committees,” said Scott Robinson, marketing and communications director. “He is the consummate advocate for natural science education and environmental sustainability and stewardship. His passion for the mission is exemplified by his favorite motto, ‘better students today, better stewards tomorrow.’”

Educating local kids

Former Superintendent of Eagle County Schools Dr. Jason Glass received the Founder’s Stewardship Award for actively demonstrating Walking Mountains’ mission through his vision and leadership in the educational field and in promoting science education.

Glass was honored for his vision for Eagle County Schools that led to numerous achievements during his four years with the district. He was instrumental in securing a long-term, collaborative partnership with Walking Mountains, ensuring enhanced science education opportunities for all Eagle County students. Glass began his new job as superintendent of Jeffco Schools this summer.

“We partner with Walking Mountains because of the integrity with which they approach outdoor science education,” Glass said. “They adhere to the scientific method and ignite curiosity that is already present in our kids.”

The dinner was sponsored by Kathy and Bjorn Borgen, the Precourt family, Mary Sue and Mike Shannon, Ann Smead and Michael Byram, the Tang Family. The committee included Karen and John Arnold, Kelly and Sam Bronfman, Kathy and Dave Ferguson, Craig Foley, Susan and Harry Frampton, Argie Ligeros and Pat Tierney, Jenny and Philip Maritz, Alix Berglund, Sunny Brodsky, Jane Johnson, Kathy Kimmel, Gail Mahoney and Tammy Schiff.

For more information, visit the Walking Mountains website at http://www.walkingmountains.org.