14th-annual High Country Speaker Series lineup announced | VailDaily.com

14th-annual High Country Speaker Series lineup announced

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AVON — Walking Mountains Science Center and the Eagle Valley Library District have partnered to bring an inspiring lineup of authors, explorers and local celebrities to the Eagle Valley beginning Presidents Day weekend and continuing through early April.

The mission of the High Country Speaker Series is to encourage environmental awareness, inspire positive relationships with the natural world and create thought-provoking dialogue in our community. The theme of the 14th annual series is "Creating a Sense of Place."

"Community vitality and environmental quality are improved through the active engagement of local citizens, community organizations and environmental resources," writes sense-of-place scholar David Orr.

Speakers and panelists will explore how the places we call home define who we are and how we form relationships with where we live. Be inspired by stories and tales from those who have learned that "place" is not only a geographical location but also a way of life, a mindset and something to be protected and loved.

For more information, visit http://www.walkingmountains.org/hcss or http://www.evld.org/hcss.

Speaker lineup

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• 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16 — "Celebrating Accomplishments in the Outdoors," with presenter Kara Richardson Whitely at the Avon Public Library: Richardson Whitely will be the first one to tell you, "Don't judge a girl by her blubber" and don't ever give up when it comes to conquering obstacles in your path.

She will speak about what it took to trek up Mount Kilimanjaro weighing more than 300 pounds and the role the mountains played in overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Using our environment as a muse for self-discovery and empowerment, this presentation is Richardson Whitely's inspirational approach to understanding the many manifestations of our relationship with the natural world.

• 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 8 — "Exploring Public Places," with presenter Bill Kight at the Avon Public Library: As a career-long ambassador to public lands, Kight brings a unique perspective to the High Country Speaker Series. As a public affairs officer, he is on the frontline when it comes to newsworthy stories, both positive and negative, involving public lands. Kight tells the story of the White River National Forest with a cast of characters that includes all of us who live, play and enjoy our public lands.

• 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 18 — "Protecting the Places We Play," a panel discussion with First Descents, Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association and White Room Adventures at Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon: Moderated by Walking Mountains' Peter Suneson, the first-ever High Country Speaker Series panel discussion will focus on the role recreation can have protecting natural elements, while at the same time empowering people to create new meanings in the outdoors.

With specialists from the hiking, mountain biking, skiing and kayaking communities, this panel of outdoor enthusiasts will showcase the joy and opportunity found in the great outdoors.

• 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 1 — "Hiking Through History," with presenter Mary Ellen Gilliland at Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon: Gilliland, locally famous author, historian and hiker, uses humorous and historically engaging discussions on the early days of Summit and Eagle counties to add a new perspective to our special places.

From boomtowns and early ski-area shenanigans to the development of our area into a world-class destination for summer and winter outdoor recreation, "Hiking Through History" will present our special place in the context of those who traversed the trails before us, as well as the important legacies they left behind.