Avon science school honors Framptons | VailDaily.com

Avon science school honors Framptons

Special to the Daily

EAGLE COUNTY – Kim Langmaid had the Gore Range Natual Science School ready to open its first season in 1998, but knew she couldn’t pull it off without more donations. That’s when Harry and Susan Frampton stepped up.

The Framptons wrote the school its first big check – for $5,000 – allowing the school to open that first year. Over the last dozen years, the Framptons have contributed both time and money to the school, now known as Walking Mountains. Because of their contributions, Walking Mountains will honor the Framptons Saturday at its third “Reach for the Peak” celebration and fund-raiser. Previous donors honored at the every-other-year event have been Kathy and Eric Borgen in 2006, and Oscar and Argie Tang and Jay and Molly Precourt in 2008.

“This is a fund-raiser, but it’s also a way to pay tribute to our supporters,” Markian Feduschak of Walking Mountains said.

Harry Frampton isn’t much for blowing his own horn. He credited Charles Fraser, his first employer in the development business, for sparking his own interest in environmental issues.

“Working for (Fraser) I learned about good stewardship and sustainable development,” Frampton said.

The Sea Pines development at Hilton Head, S.C. featured a lot of protected open space, pedestrian paths, parks and other amenities that are taken for granted now, but at the time were distinctive in the development business.

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After Frampton had moved to Colorado and had success here, Frampton and his wife, Susan, have given a lot of time – and have written a lot of checks – for various causes. But Langmaid’s idea for a natural science school really struck a chord.

“I just thought it was a terrific thing to do, to educate young people about our environment,” Frampton said. He added he’s been especially grateful for the work the school has done with public schools over the years, since environmental education simply can’t be a priority for school districts. They simply have too much else to do, he said.

“We’re just glad to be able to help,” Frampton said.

As the science school has matured, taking on a new name this year and starting work on a new, permanent home in Avon, Frampton said the school has exceeded his expectations.

“I think it’s even more exciting now, with everything going on,” he said.

With all that Walking Mountains is involved in now, it’s easy to forget the school very nearly didn’t get off the ground.

In an e-mailed remembrance, Langmaid wrote: “… it was just two weeks prior to offering our first summer science camps for youth. In the early years of the Science School the camps were based out of Red Tail Camp at Beaver Creek.

“I was facing a dilemma: there were students signed up for the programs that summer and I had hired educators to lead the programs but I did not have enough cash in the bank to really get the organization up and running and make payroll through that first summer. I had started the organization with $500 out of my savings and was working another job to cover my living expenses. Several small donations had come in that spring but not nearly enough to get us through the summer programming. Then I went to pick up the mail and there was a personal check from Harry and Susan for $5,000! The summer was saved and we were off to a strong start.”

Langmaid said the inspiration for the local school was the Teton Science School near Jackson, Wyo. And, while that first season was touch-and-go, “I never had any doubt it would go,” she said.

“It really was in the right place at the right time,” she said.

In the future, Langmaid said she’d like Walking Mountains to be a key part of the community, like the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater or other local amenities.

“I think we can transform the level of environmental literacy in the valley,” she said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.