Walking Mountains Science Center

Explore your curious nature

aka Walking Mountains Science Center   |   Avon, CO   |  www.walkingmountains.org

Mission

Walking Mountains Science Center's mission is to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education.

Ruling year info

1998

President

Mr. Markian Feduschak

Vice President, Director of Sustainability and Stewardship Programs

Kim Langmaid Ph.D.

Main address

PO Box 9469

Avon, CO 81620 USA

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Formerly known as

Gore Range Natural Science School

EIN

84-1436731

NTEE code info

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Walking Mountains Science Center envisions an Eagle Valley where everyone understands the science of nature and is inspired to take action as an environmental steward. To that end, our programs address the following needs in our community:
• Immersive, experiential environmental science education for students in grades K-12 that aligns with school curricula.
• Quality, natural science programming for families and adults.
• Programs that help businesses, residents and governments become more sustainable in their homes and operations.

People spend less time outdoors than ever before, especially young people. The average American child spends as few as 30 minutes each day in unstructured play outdoors, and more than 7 hours a day in front of an electronic screen. Walking Mountains programs enable people to unplug and connect with nature, resulting in greater understanding of the natural world's value in their wellbeing and that of the community, and creating a lasting stewardship ethic.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Field Science Programs

Walking Mountains’ cornerstone Field Science Programs encompass 85 hands-on experiential science classes offered to all Eagle County public schools, as well as many private schools in the county. The curricula for our field science programs are aligned with district and state standards, and utilize the scientific method to make science real. Participating students learn by observing, assessing, analyzing and calculating, and also develop critical thinking and collaboration skills. Field science curricula are revised regularly as new science standards are adopted by the Eagle County School District.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Walking Mountains piloted the Girls in Science after-school enrichment program in 2007 to directly address a national trend of girls falling academically behind in science by their middle and high school years. The program now serves grades 3-5 in nine Eagle County elementary schools. The program curriculum is designed to connect the study of science to real-life situations through hands-on, inquiry-driven and fun activities. Students also learn critical collaboration and communication skills during program activities. In addition to academic achievement, Walking Mountains’ goals for Girls in Science are to increase confidence in students to engage in science activities and pursuits, and inspire them to enter science-related careers, as women are under-represented in these career fields historically.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Children and youth

Walking Mountains’ single-day, multi-day and overnight summer camps for grades 1-12 allow children to experience the wild places of the Eagle Valley while nurturing their connection to the natural world. Campers investigate principles of ecology and develop an understanding of scientific concepts through fun, adventure, experiments and exploration. Sessions are age-appropriate and taught by qualified natural science educators that make learning safe and fun. Summer camps run for nine weeks, overall hosting more than 500 campers. Walking Mountains also offers a summer camps scholarship fund that offers children who do not have the resources to pay camp tuition to attend a summer session.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

The STEM Curiosity Lab (formerly STEM Leadership Academy) is an after-school program that provides integrated lessons in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Utilizing an inquiry approach, students explore STEM topics through innovative lessons inspired by student interest, Next Generation Science Standards and Colorado Common Core Mathematics Standards. The STEM Curiosity Lab seeks to inspire the future of STEM innovators by providing youth access and confidence in STEM topics, and strives to encourage students to pursue STEM coursework in high school and college. The program is offered as either an enrichment option or as an elective course to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students at four area middle schools. The program culminates in a series of STEM Science Fairs hosted at Walking Mountains each spring.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Walking Mountains merged with the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability in December 2013 to create the Sustainability & Stewardship Programs area. Initiatives include the following:

Actively Green: A training and certification program in sustainability best-practices for local businesses.

Energy Smart Colorado: An energy efficiency support program with energy assessments and rebates available to local homeowners and businesses.

Sustainable Community Film Series: A series of educational films shown November-May in partnership with local business sponsors.

Landscape Stewardship: Internships and volunteer opportunities in partnership with local land management agencies.

Recycling and Waste Reduction: Education and outreach in the community including Zero Waste events and opportunities for internships and volunteering.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Walking Mountains’ broad scope of Community Programs engage community members and visitors of all ages through experiential opportunities using our integrated facilities and the local environment. By applying environmental interpretation strategies we will inspire people to develop a sense of place and foster a positive relationship with the natural world. Programs include:

Daily Nature Walks & Snowshoes – Departing each afternoon from our Avon Science Center; Walking Mountains staff lead a gentle educational hike or snowshoe through aspen and riparian communities. Participants learn about the ecology and animal adaptations of this mountain environment.

Science Behind Series – Monthly, hands-on presentation that explores the science behind ordinary things we encounter in our everyday lives. Past topics include rafting, worm composting, music, skiing, gluten-free cooking and winemaking.

High Country Speaker Series – Offered in partnership with the Eagle Valley Library District each winter, the series bring noted speakers to the local community to inform, entertain and enlighten audiences about regional nature, science and history.

Early Bird Walk – Participants explore meadows, forests and riparian areas in search of local bird species, and learn about birding, bird identification and habitats important to our avian friends.

Backcountry Hikes & Snowshoes – Naturalist-guided backcountry hikes or snowshoe treks over a variety of terrains throughout the Eagle Valley. Outings vary in length, and depart from our main Avon campus, the Vail Nature Center and the Nature Discovery Center on Vail Mountain.

Earthkeepers Preschool Program – Children ages 3-5 have the opportunity to explore the natural world and have fun with others while developing their sense of place. Topics vary weekly and help children express their inherent wonder and curiosity as little scientists.

Nature Tykes – Introductory program during which very young children (ages 6-36 months) develop sensory awareness and comfort in the outdoors. Accompanying parents and guardians learn ways to introduce children to the natural world and nurture their sense of wonder through the exploration of nearby woods, meadows and wildflowers.

Fright at the Museum – Walking Mountains hosts its premier community event, Fright at the Museum, each October at its main campus in Avon. The event features a range of interactive, immersive learning activities for families within a festive Halloween setting. The event sells out annually with 400+ attendees, primarily local families with young children.

Population(s) Served
Adults

In partnership with Northern Colorado University, Walking Mountains in 2016 began offering a Graduate Fellowship in Natural Science Education: a full-time, two-year professional development program that focuses on K-12 field science education, leadership, and helping to grow a reputable nonprofit organization. This position is responsible for serving the organization with a personal commitment to awakening a sense of wonder and inspiring environmental stewardship and sustainability though natural science education. Fellows coordinate and teach natural science programming both in the classroom and in the field during our summer science camps and school field programs. In addition to teaching responsibilities, fellows participate in a Master of Arts graduate program through University of Northern Colorado’s Science Education Program, eventually receiving an MA in Science Education. This model of formal classroom instruction and learning in the field is highly unique and one of just a handful of similar programs offered nationwide.

Naturalists are seasonal interns who earn undergraduate credit while staffing the Nature Discovery Center on Vail Mountain and the Vail Nature Center. They also facilitate campground programs and gain invaluable hands-on experience by leading guided group nature walks and hikes and interacting with participants of all ages. This year Walking Mountains increased its Naturalist staff from 12 to 20.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Non-Profit of the Year 2010

Vail Valley Partnership

Award for Excellence in Environmental Issues 2002

El Pomar Foundation

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Walking Mountains' goals for its three program areas are the following:

Youth Programs – To positively impact the education of Eagle County students by providing high-quality, engaging education experiences that increase science literacy, promote systems thinking, and create sense of place while fostering environmental stewardship.

Community Programs – To engage community members and visitors of all ages through experiential opportunities using our integrated facilities and the local environment. By applying environmental interpretation strategies we will inspire people to develop a sense of place and foster a positive relationship with the natural world.

Sustainability & Stewardship Programs – To increase social, economic, and environmental resilience throughout the Eagle Valley by providing opportunities for businesses and people of all ages to take action, while we grow as a "one-stop-shop" resource for our community.

Youth Programs' Strategies:
1. Maintain the highest quality field science programs that enrich and enhance students' science
literacy, measured by content standards integration and assessment results.
2. Expand Field Science Program enrollment from 3,505 to 5,000 by 2020 to meet the MOU with Eagle County Schools, and serve all K-8 students and select high school students once a year throughout their academic career.
3. To offer and grow high quality and engaging after school programs to Eagle County School students. Girls in Science will be offered to 3rd-5th grade girls at all nine ECS elementary schools and STEM Leadership Academy will be offered at all four ECS middle schools in each grade level 6th-8th.
4. By 2019, design a longitudinal study of Youth Program participants and the impact Walking Mountains' programs has had on their life choices and career path decisions.
Community Programs' Strategies:
1. Maintain positive relationships with partners (Vail Resorts, US Forest Service, Vail Recreation District, and others) to ensure long term success of partnerships and resulting facility and programmatic impacts. As opportunities arise, strategically consider expansion to other locations or new partnerships.
2. Increase year round visitation to WMSC Campus by at least 20% from the 2015 baseline of 6,985 by 2020.
3. Develop a vision and plan for revamped Sustainability Exhibit that is engaging and informative but also aligns with WMSC's sustainability efforts.
4. Increase program attendance in EarthKeepers and Nature Tykes early childhood programs 30% by 2020.
5. Increase participation in High Country Speaker Series 25% above 2015 baseline by 2020.
6. Explore ways to build on the success of the monthly Science Behind Series.
7. Increase the number of hikers and snowshoers by 10% annually from the FY 2016 baseline.
8. Establish systems to collect, analyze, and share information on CP program impacts in relation to knowledge gained, attitudes towards science and nature, and behavioral changes connected to stewardship.

Sustainability and Stewardship Strategies:
1. Partner with local governments, businesses, and households to reduce energy use resulting in a reduction of approximately 1,200 metric tons of carbon annually.
2. Partner with local governments, businesses, individuals and schools to achieve Eagle County's overall waste diversion goal of 30% by 2020.
3. Develop and implement environmental stewardship projects that enhance the resiliency of our mountain landscapes while supporting local natural resource adaptation to climate change, creating jobs and engaging volunteers.
4. Reach at least 800 people annually through the Sustainable Film Series.
5. Recruit, train and certify 15 new businesses annually in the Actively Green Sustainable Business certification program.

Walking Mountains Science Center has a long standing reputation of developing and implementing high quality natural science education programs. With almost twenty years of service to the community, Walking Mountains has become the premier science education resource in the Central Colorado region, offering year-round programming that is aligned with state and national curriculum standards to more than 3,800 students annually in 23 public and private schools located throughout the Eagle Valley. In addition, Walking Mountains serves 28,000+ residents and visitors to the Eagle Valley through engaging adult and family natural science programs. Including programs offered through the Sustainability and Stewardship Department, the organization's total annual audience for all programs exceeds 92,000.

We are at an exciting time in Walking Mountains' history. The success of the current ​LEED Platin​um​ campus – having opened in the fall of 2011 – has exceeded our imagination. In fact, we are at a critical point where demand is far outpacing our ability to provide our award-winning programs for adults and children alike. Therefore, we are embarking on “Phase 2" of our initial capital campaign, and adding the component of annual operating support to create a holistic approach to our expansion efforts.

While educating our region's students in science through experiential learning in nature is the “core" of our mission, we have broadly expanded to include over 1,000 community programs annually that inspire and educate people of all ages. Furthermore, our Sustainability & Stewardship department, created through an acquisition over two years ago and now under Kim Langmaid's leadership​, has added a robust suite of programs designed to help individuals, companies, and local governments become more energy efficient and sustainable. We're proud to have become a resource for our region, inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards and helping ensure the natural surroundings we all love become protected for the future.

In order to fulfill our strategic mission, we ​are​ addressing our capacity issues through thoughtful yet aggressive expansion plans. We have created​ a facilities committee of the board, along with a comprehensive campaign cabinet, to help us achieve our goals. In sum, we have ​acquire​d​ more land for both buildings and outdoor programming so that we can​ hire more educators and administrative staff; build graduate staff housing, indoor and outdoor classrooms, and administrative offices so we can grow to accommodate the community's needs and create a “Legacy for the Future."

Financials

Walking Mountains Science Center
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Walking Mountains Science Center

Board of directors
as of 5/17/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Craig Foley


Board co-chair

Mr. Pat Tierney

Hans Berglund

Berglund Architects

Alix Berglund

Berglund Architects

Kathy Borgen

Kelly Bronfman

Buck Elliott

Paragon Guides

Holly Elliott

Markian Feduschak

Walking Mountains Science Center

Shelly Jarnot

Kim Langmaid

Walking Mountains Science Center

Jenny Maritz

Ellen Moritz

FirstBank - Avon

Dan Patten

Centennial Bank

Ben Peternell

John Shipp

Roadhouse Hospitality Group

Carroll Tyler

Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate

Rick Travers

Wear, Travers & Perkins Attorneys

Dale Mosier

Phil Brodsky

Kristen Bertuglia

Town of Vail

Fritz Bratschie

Vail Resorts

Matt Donovan

Vail Honeywagon Enterprises

Megan Gilman

Active Energies

Jason Glass

Eagle County School District

Jay Mahoney

Misha Moritz

Mweb Interactive

Greg Walton

Alan Danson

Carole Watters

Emily Zeigler

Paul Gotthelf

Slifer, Smith & Frampton Real Estate

Elizabeth Howe

Scott Schlosser

Access Real Estate of Colorado

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No