Night of science stars |

Night of science stars

Carolyn Pope/Vail DailArne and Kari Jorgensen with the Woodland Wizard.

VAIL ” Ah, to be king of your very own shire with woodland wizards, trolls and gnomes at your beck and call!

That’s what Erik and Kathy Borgen were for one night last week, as the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort was transformed from banquet hall to enchanted forest.

The Borgens were honored for their contributions to many charitable organizations, but the evening was dedicated to one in particular ” the Gore Range Natural Science School.

The theme was “Jeans and Gems with a Sprinkle of Norway” and guests dressed the part.

From sparkling Jimmy Choos and rhinestone belts, glittering tops, indigo jeans, classic Norwegian sweaters or Johnny Cash black on black, it all gelled with the theme created by members of the advisory committee ” Allie Coppeak, Victoria Frank, Terri Groff, Montine Hansl, Kari Jorgensen, Hanne Lichtenfels, and Shery McDonald-Galbreath.

Guests were greeted with Norwegian cheeses, Norwegian gravlax and a cascading Vodka martini bar.

Gore Range educators challenged the guests with facts about the valley, including the age of the Gore Range Mountains (60 million years) to how much land in Colorado is held for public use (around 52 percent). The winners were given admission to adult seminar classes this coming summer.

“Gore Range Natural Science School is dedicated to making the natural world accessible to all,” said Alan Danson, chairman of the school’s board. “We know that in the end people will preserve what they love, they will love what they understand and they will understand what they are taught.

“By teaching about this wonderful place in which we live, we are helping to create better students and more knowledgeable adults today and better stewards of our precious valley tomorrow,” he said.

In the field

The evening, however, was centered around special people who give.

In addition to acknowledging the Borgens, Ted James received the 2006 Founder’s Stewardship Award recipient. James is a math and environmental science teacher at Eagle Valley Middle School in Eagle, who believes that direct field experience is the most effective way for his students to gain an appreciation of environmental science.

Over the last decade, James has involved over 800 students in the collection and analysis of stream samples for the Rivers of Colorado Water Watch Network. This spring will be the eighth year that his students perform biophysical monitoring projects with Gore Range Natural Science School in the Eby Creek watershed.

Through action and word, Ted has demonstrated over his 10-year teaching career at Eagle Valley Middle School a commitment to cultivating within his students a sense of place and stewardship through education.

‘Our own backyard’

Host emcee Greg Lewis from Aspen led the tribute to the Borgens, which included video tributes and personal comments.

“Kathy and Erik have touched all of our lives in a personal way through their friendship, camaraderie and their shared belief that giving back to worthy causes is an obligation for us all,” said friend and local philanthropist Oscar Tang.

“They both serve as notable examples of individuals for whom philanthropy is important and those many causes, like the science school, are beneficiaries of their generosity,” Tang said. “By serving as board members, as advisors, as supporters, Kathy and Erik enrich all of our lives. We are truly grateful.”

After the presentation, everyone was given a champagne flute with the tasty but deadly Norwegian drink, Aquavit, followed by a hearty “skol!” The dance floor then opened to the music of Timothy P. and Rural Route Three.

Rose and George Gillett, Terri and Neal Groff, Cynnie and Peter Kellogg, Vicki and Trygve Myhren, Molly and Jay Precourt, Oscar and Argie Tang were the couples who organized the event.

“The Reach for the Peak Award Dinner was a tremendous opportunity for Gore Range Natural Science School to bring together a remarkable collection of people who wanted to join with us in honoring Kathy and Erik Borgen for their widespread and generous philanthropy in the Vail Valley and beyond,” said Markian Feduschak, executive director of the science school.

“As a benefit event, the Reach for the Peak Award Dinner gave the science school an unprecedented opportunity to showcase our mission and educational programming, while celebrating the many partners who have contributed to our success over the last eight years,” Feduschak said.

“What’s exciting for the science school is that every person who attended the dinner made a significant contribution to education in our own backyard.”

For more information on the Gore Range Natural Science School, visit their Web site at or call 827-9725. Its new office is above Loaded Joe’s in Avon.

April 8, Rod Slifer will be honored for his lifelong commitment to skiing and to Vail. The event will be held at the Lodge at Vail, and is hosted by the International Skiing History Association and the Colorado Ski Museum.

Also recognized are ski areas Arapahoe Basin, Aspen Mountain, Howelsen Hill, Loveland, Ski Cooper and Winter Park. Tickets are $100.

For more information, contact Sarah Akeroyd at the Vail Chamber and Tourist Association at 877-477-0705 or e-mail

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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