Walking Mountains “Taste of Nature” gala honors donors and raises money | VailDaily.com

Walking Mountains “Taste of Nature” gala honors donors and raises money

By Carolyn Pope
High Altitude Society

Last week, Walking Mountains hosted their annual “Taste of Nature” gala fundraiser at their campus in Avon.  Each year, the organization hands out two honors for those who have made an impact on the educational center and on the community. 

The Founder’s Stewardship Award was presented to Pam and Ben Peternell.  The award acknowledged their extensive support of the staff of Walking Mountain’s staff and organization.  The couple created the Peternell Endowment for Professional Development, and because of their endowment, the staff has been able to interact with and learn from other leaders in environmental education and sustainability, attend important conferences and continue to raise the bar on program quality and impact throughout the community.

Amanda Precourt, who is well known around town for her support of young women and girls, received the “Reach for the Peak Award”.

“We all know that nature heals the mind, body and soul. Its why we all live here,” began Precourt, as she accepted her award. “There is scientific proof that nature actually does change the brain for the better. This is why, when I started Girl PowHER in 2011, I made sure we partnered with Walking Mountains’ “Girls in Science” program to provide access to STEM for many young women who would otherwise never be exposed to these subjects in school. When I was on the board of Habitat for Humanity, we made sure the children who were recipients of our new homes had access to Walking Mountains’ programming.”

Elaine Kelton also commended Precourt.  “I have known Amanda a long time and have great respect for not only what she has done, but what she has overcome.  The fact that she’s willing to share her story with others, particularly young women and girls – is a testament to her character.”

Walking Mountains programs have grown significantly in the past several years, said Markian Feduschak, the President of Walking Mountains. The organization now reaches over 100,000 people annually. As a result, they’ve been able to nearly double their full-time staff, and have also added 40 seasonal positions.

“During the school year, we’ve had wait lists of up to 1000 students for our Field Science Programs,” he said.

The addition of the newly opened Borgen/Precourt Center for Sustainability has helped dramatically by doubling the classroom, meeting and office spaces, but growth is still in the plans for Walking Mountains, which also owns property in Sweetwater.

The “Zero Waste” event was catered by Footer’s from Denver. After dinner, guests bid on auction items, and the “cash call” brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the organization.

Amanda Precourt summed it up:  “What is so incredible about Walking Mountains is that it provides not only adventurous activities in nature but also full immersion in natural sciences and STEM for us all – regardless of age, gender or socio-economic status. And that makes this community richer for everyone.”

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

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