Vail Valley Scenery column: ‘Taste of Nature’ inspires environmental stewardship
AVON — In the midst of the growing hustle and bustle of the Vail Valley is a beautiful oasis of nature, reflection and education. It’s the Walking Mountains Science Center, located just up Buck Creek Road in Avon, on the road to Mountain Star.
Founded in 1998 by Kim Langmaid as Gore Range Natural Science School, the organization has, like the Sphingidae, the Sphinx Moth we see hovering above our local flowers like a hummingbird, transformed from a diminutive, fragile caterpillar into a fascinating creature that helps our valley grow and blossom.
Last week, Walking Mountains held its annual gala/fundraiser. The evening focused on the theme of “Designed by Nature,” which was carried through the exhibits before dinner and even with a challenging competition where guests had to pair animals with the scientific inventions their unique abilities inspired.
A Taste of Nature honored two couples: Alix and Hans Berglund with the Founder’s Stewardship Award and Kelly and Sam Bronfman with the Reach for the Peak Award.
Alix and Hans both hail from the East Coast and met in Aspen. After moving to Vail in 1997, Hans opened his architectural firm, Berglund Associates, where he focuses on environmentally sound designs. Alix, who holds a masters degree in holistic nutrition, runs her own business, Vail Valley Nutrition. Both are passionate about the wilderness, health and keeping our environment safe for the next generation.
“I grew up camping and was an Eagle Scout. I took the outdoors for granted,” Hans Berglund said. “I realized I would have benefited and appreciated the outdoors through the programs offered through Walking Mountains. You can be a successful businessman and also be a steward to the environment.”
The Reach for the Peak Award was created nine years ago and is awarded to citizens whose philanthropy has made a difference locally and internationally. Recipients have included the Precourt and Tang family, the Framptons, Barbie and Tony Mayer, the Borgens and Karen and Mike Herman.
This year’s recipients, Kelly and Sam Bronfman, have been in the Vail area for 18 years. Kelly is involved in numerous nonprofits that focus on the environment, including the Eagle Valley Land Trust, Colorado Conversation Trust, and in her home state of California, Save the Bay and Peninsula Open Space Trust. Sam is focused on education and health care and locally serves on the Vail Valley Health Services Board.
“I wish we could be around in 50 years to see what impact we have had,” Kelly said. “We need growth with a can-do attitude that is working for the greater good.”
The superintendent of Eagle County Schools, Jason Glass, also praised the work of the schools. This past year, 4,005 students were served, and there have been measurable outcomes in test scores, as well as passion for science with engaged students. At present, 70 percent of the students in Eagle County have access to the Walking Mountains programs. The goal is, of course, 100 percent. Glass summed up the theme of the evening.
“The more you know, the more you are interested,” Glass said. “Be skeptical. Ask questions.”
The Walking Mountains campus is open to the public and is a stimulating place to go as an adult or to take the children. Visit http://www.walkingmountains.org to see the numerous courses they offer for inquisitive minds of all ages.