Educational Institutions

Walking Mountains Science Center

  • Avon, CO
  • www.walkingmountains.org

Mission Statement

Walking Mountains Science Center's mission is to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education. The following values inform and guide our work as we advance our mission:

• Stewardship—We seek to understand, honor, and live in harmony with the ecological processes by which nature sustains all life, shifting our perceptions from parts to wholes and from objects to relationships. We serve as responsible role models of sustainability and stewardship in our community. Our programs are designed to foster stewardship behaviors in participants while enhancing human-nature relationships and increasing socio-ecological resilience.

• Community—We seek to engage all people living in our community. We collaborate respectfully with all stakeholders, first listening and seeking to understand their needs, and then engaging in dialogue to find common ground and create constructive solutions. Our programs are designed to create enriching interactions and positive experiences for community members. We believe we are all connected to each other, our environment, and the greater web of life.

• Innovation—We believe innovation and creativity are essential to envisioning and creating a sustainable future. We are passionate about developing solutions and striving towards best practices in all of our programs. We pride ourselves in valuing individual and collective innovation within our organization and also though our partnerships with stakeholders. We are leaders and social entrepreneurs in the fields of environmental science education and sustainability. We actively incubate and empower an innovative organizational culture.

• Learning—The world is continually changing and therefore we strive to acquire and promote new knowledge, experiences and understanding. We value scientific inquiry and critical thinking and we strive to awaken a sense of wonder and curiosity in all learners. We design and facilitate learning experiences that are place-based and that draw upon the unique ecological and social attributes of our community while encouraging broader systems thinking to help solve local and global challenges. We evaluate the outcomes of our programs and projects so that we can deliberately adapt and improve.

• Leadership—We lead our community in efforts that enhance environmental knowledge, stewardship and sustainability. We are proactive and we understand that true leadership is transformative and sometimes unpopular. Our leadership is thoughtful, patient, and constructive. We lead to change hearts and minds in ways people will understand and embrace. We follow and support the leadership of others with common goals.

Main Programs

  1. Field Science Programs
  2. Girls in Science
  3. Summer Science Camps
  4. STEM Leadership Academy
  5. Sustainability & Stewardship Programs
  6. Community Programs
  7. Graduate Fellowships & Seasonal Internships
Service Areas

Self-reported

Colorado

Walking Mountains Science Center has grown into a leading natural science education and environmental stewardship resource that reaches more than 80,000 people annually. We operate out of multiple locations in Eagle County, Colorado, including Avon, Vail and Dotsero. Most recently, we are offering programs in the following three main areas:

Youth Education – We inspire Eagle County students to achieve their goals through experiential learning. Our programs are aligned with state and national curriculum standards, including the Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Leadership Academy, Girls in Science, and School Field Science Programs.

Sustainability & Stewardship – We create a more sustainable local community through a robust suite of offerings that are designed to help individuals, companies, and local governments become more energy efficient and sustainable. These include Actively Green, Energy Smart Colorado, the Sustainable Community Film Series, Eco-Schools, and a Natural Resource Internship for high school students.

Community – We engage visitors from throughout the world as well as Eaglc County locals in understanding the value of our precious natural resources through backcountry hikes and snowshoe treks, family nature walks and hands-on activities.

ruling year

1998

President

Self-reported

Mr. Markian Feduschak

Vice President, Director of Sustainability and Stewardship Programs

Self-reported

Kim Langmaid Ph.D.

Keywords

Self-reported

natural science education, experiential learning, sustainability, environmental stewardship

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EIN

84-1436731

 Number

2310388965

Physical Address

318 Walking Mountains Lane

Avon, CO 81620 9469

Also Known As

Walking Mountains Science Center

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

IRS Filing Requirement

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

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Our new Platinum LEED-certified campus opened in August 2011 and is exponentially increasing innovative science and environmental education for Eagle County school children and families, as well as the thousands of visitors who vacation in this area throughout the year. Through sustainable design and buildings, interactive educational displays, and classrooms with immediate access to a diverse ecological site, our students and visitors are having many opportunities to learn about local ecology and the exceptional setting of our mountain home. As science education and environmental stewardship becomes more critical to the health and well being of our economy and way of life, Walking Mountains' LEED Platinum certified campus is playing an important transformational role in our community.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

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

Program 1

Field Science Programs

Walking Mountains’ cornerstone Field Science Programs today 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.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Children Only (5 - 14 years)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

Program 2

Girls in Science

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.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Female Children ( 5 - 14 years)

Hispanics

Female Children ( 5 - 14 years)

Budget

Program 3

Summer Science Camps

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.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Children Only (5 - 14 years)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

Program 4

STEM Leadership Academy

Walking Mountains' STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Leadership Academy is offered to students in grades 6-8 who attend all four traditional middle schools in Eagle County, with an emphasis on recruiting participants from underserved populations. The curriculum is designed to encourage students to pursue STEM courses in high school and college, and potentially future careers in STEM-related fields. More broadly, it provides students with the necessary skills and knowledge to become competitive candidates for college study.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Hispanics

Hispanics

Budget

Program 5

Sustainability & Stewardship Programs

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.

Category

Environment

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified

Budget

Program 6

Community Programs

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.

Category

Public, Society Benefit

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified

Budget

Program 7

Graduate Fellowships & Seasonal Internships

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.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Young Adults (20-25 years)

Budget

Service Areas

Self-reported

Colorado

Walking Mountains Science Center has grown into a leading natural science education and environmental stewardship resource that reaches more than 80,000 people annually. We operate out of multiple locations in Eagle County, Colorado, including Avon, Vail and Dotsero. Most recently, we are offering programs in the following three main areas:

Youth Education – We inspire Eagle County students to achieve their goals through experiential learning. Our programs are aligned with state and national curriculum standards, including the Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Leadership Academy, Girls in Science, and School Field Science Programs.

Sustainability & Stewardship – We create a more sustainable local community through a robust suite of offerings that are designed to help individuals, companies, and local governments become more energy efficient and sustainable. These include Actively Green, Energy Smart Colorado, the Sustainable Community Film Series, Eco-Schools, and a Natural Resource Internship for high school students.

Community – We engage visitors from throughout the world as well as Eaglc County locals in understanding the value of our precious natural resources through backcountry hikes and snowshoe treks, family nature walks and hands-on activities.

Additional Documents

Social Media

Blog

Funding Needs

Walking Mountains envisions an Eagle Valley where everyone understands the science of nature and is inspired to take action as an environmental steward. With this vision in mind, we are focusing on the following three key organization needs: 1. To raise the additional annual support required for program and staff expansion and operations at the Science Center, and to identify new revenue streams that will augment philanthropic giving. The Science Center is a tremendous resource and asset for our residents and visitors; however, our school programs and summer science camps are operating at capacity, necessitating the hiring of additional educators and naturalists to meet demand. 2. To continue to support our local public schools and provide programs that are accessible to all students. Forty-two percent (42%) of local students are on a free or reduced lunch program, 51% are Latino, and the Eagle County School District has weathered significant budget cuts that have not been restored since the Great Recession. Serving all of our local students requires significant funding to offer highly subsidized and free programs. 3. To finalize and implement a reporting system that utilizes both qualitative and quantitative metrics to measure effective implementation and impact of our mission and annual objectives. This includes and is not limited to: program participation and outcomes; personnel performance and development; and fiscal sustainability.

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

WALKING MOUNTAINS
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

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

Walking Mountains Science Center

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair, Board Co-Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.

President

Mr. Markian Feduschak

Vice President, Director of Sustainability and Stewardship Programs

Kim Langmaid Ph.D.

BIO

Markian joined Walking Mountains Science Center after 15 years with Outward Bound West, where he served as field instructor, course director and Colorado program director. As president of Walking Mountains, he leads the organization with an emphasis on leadership development, effective team building, staff training, and risk management. He loves spending time outdoors with his wife and two daughters. He received his B.A. in English from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and two daughters.

STATEMENT FROM THE President

"Walking Mountains Science Center's mission is to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education. Ours is a unique organization due to our non-advocacy position, the variety of people we serve, our breadth of programming, and the public/private partnerships we have established in accomplishing our mission.

In August 2016, we celebrated the five-year anniversary of our Science Center's grand opening in Avon, Colorado. Since the state-of-the-art LEED Platinum Certified facility opened, the variety and quantity of our natural science programs, as well as the number of residents and visitors that participate in them, has increased exponentially. It was not only the first location that was built specifically for Walking Mountains, it also gave the organization a more central location in the Eagle Valley to reach more people. Establishing a campus of our own also allowed us to take ownership of our mission for the benefit of the people we serve.

We began in 1998 as Gore Range Natural Science School, an innovative grassroots organization based out of an unused public school in the tiny mountain town of Red Cliff. With an eye toward “if we build it, they will come," the organization has evolved into a multi-faceted learning resource with four locations, anchored by the Avon Science Center, and an annual audience of 80,000+.

This incredible growth shows that we have struck a nerve – and identified a crucial need – with our programs. Statistics show that as most children advance in their academic careers, their achievement in science decreases. We work closely with our local schools to provide hands-on field science programs where children spend time outdoors engaging in scientific study and research. As a result of our programs, assessments demonstrate a significant increase in student's scientific literacy and interest in science.

Further, the opportunities for young people simply to connect with their outdoor environment are dwindling as childhood moves indoors. The average American child spends as few as 30 minutes each day in unstructured play outdoors, and more than seven hours a day in front of an electronic screen. Furthermore, childhood obesity rates have more than doubled over the past 20 years.

This movement to get youth outside is especially strong in Colorado where the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) initiative is broadening its reach to benefit more communities throughout our state, including Eagle County. We are pleased to be part of a coalition of organizations working with GOCO to develop a youth-focused outdoor engagement plan that leverages and complements the efforts of Walking Mountains and our partners."

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Mr. Pat Tierney

Former Global CEO, Harcourt Division

Term: July 2013 - Dec 2016

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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BOARD ORIENTATION & 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?


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CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


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ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


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BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


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BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?