Learning how to enjoy the environment | VailDaily.com

Learning how to enjoy the environment

Carolyn Pope
Science school instructor Katharine Haushka at the Discovery Center atop Vail Mountain.

VAIL ” When the snow starts to fly and the temperatures drop, are you a migrator? Perhaps you’re a hibernator or a tolerator.

For me, it all depends on what I have in the refrigerator or if the powder is really good. With the airfares to Mexico these days, a sun-drenched beach and a pina colada are certainly tempting.

But if you spend some time with the staff of the Gore Range Natural Science School, you could learn much more than the winter plans of our local animals. You might even find out what the most savage animal is that lives in our habitat ” and no, it’s not what you think.

Last week, the school hosted a First Tracks on Vail Mountain courtesy of Bill Jensen and Vail Resorts. After an invigorating couple of hours of skiing, the group convened at Eagle’s Nest for breakfast and some education.

The science school is one nonprofit that has managed to put their mission into action. Their goal, to educate the community on the environment and the ecosystem in which we live, is simple and direct.

They serve the community well, from the Discovery Center at the top of the gondola to the Vail Nature Center to classes for adults and future leaders.

Last year alone, they spent more than 13,500 hours with 1,300 kids in a range of courses that included terrestrial biodiversity, geology and local wildlife. Science school instructors are at Avon Elementary School every other week.

“Gore Range Natural Science School brings an educational quality to enjoying the environment we’re living in,” said Todger Anderson, a supporter of the organization. “Schools are cutting out on everything except reading, writing and arithmetic. The science school is stepping in to fill the void in the sciences.”

More than 10,000 people visited the Nature Discovery Center and the number of hikers participating in science-school programs tripled. For a small organization, they reach out to many, many people to inspire lifelong learning.

“We have wonderful young people who have graduated with environmental degrees or have experience in the environment,” said Alan Danson, chairman of the school’s board of directors.

“They’re with us for 18 months. We send our teachers out to the Vail Nature Center, Discovery Center and to schools,” Danson said. “We are reaching out to the community because we don’t have our own place to teach from.”

Vail Resorts has seen the benefit of working with the school. The relationship is symbiotic ” the school’s projects offer the locals and visitors a chance to recognize the company’s commitment to the environment and the science school receives funding to assist Vail Resorts’ in its mission.

Along with the U.S. Forest Service, the relationship has been an award-winning venture. Vail Resorts has also presented a $25,000 challenge grant to help the nonprofit raise funds to keep their programs active.

“We inspire stewardship by teaching rather than preaching,” Danson said.

And that savage animal? Believe it or not, it’s the harmless looking ermine. Just ask their prey.

Coming up next at Gore Range Natural Science School are the full-moon snowshoe hikes from the Nature Discovery Center on Feb. 10 and 11. Call 479-4675 for reservations or visit: http://www.gorerange.org.

Banner spotted at the SnowSports Industries America convention in Las Vegas: “What’s more embarrassing? Falling off the chairlift or wearing a Nebraska Cornhuskers jacket on the slopes?”

Need some help with learning how to handle your teen? “Active Parenting of Teens” is a program by Judy Caligiuri and Nic Hoeger that starts Feb. 1 at Berry Creek Middle School. They plan to help you get inside your teen’s mind and cover those taboo subjects your parents ignored.

To sign up call Judy at 926-8558 or Nic at 390-3293. It’s only $60 per parent or $90 per couple.

Vail, Colorado

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