Yampatika still going strong

Nonprofit presents county with overview of organization

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— Yampatika seeks to educate visitors and residents of Northwest Colorado about the natural and cultural resources around them.

The nonprofit organization's programs have reached more than 290,000 people since its inception in 1992.

But Executive Director Deb Fuller believes there's still room to grow.

"I am constantly amazed with how many people still do not understand what we are doing," she said.

Fuller offered the Board of County Commissioners an overview of Yampatika's past, present and future projects Tuesday. The presentation included an appeal for continued community support and suggestions on how to broaden awareness of Yampatika.

"I don't know that the public knows ... all the things that are available to them," County Commissioner Doug Monger said.

Yampatika offers programs Tuesday through Saturday for all ages and abilities. Winter activities include guided ski and snowshoe tours at the Steamboat Ski Area, Emerald Mountain, Vista Verde Guest Ranch and in the Routt National Forest.

People can also book private snowshoe or cross country ski tours with Yampatika naturalists.

Warmer weather brings such programs as wildflower walks, llama treks, bird identification seminars and historical float trips.

Outdoor programs promise hands-on exploration of the natural world, exposure to wildlife and geology and details about local history.

Yampatika began with a simple philosophy. Its founders wanted locals and visitors not only to be hearers, but also seers and doers.

"I hear, and I forget," Fuller said, reciting an old Chinese proverb. "I see, and I remember. I do and I understand."

The organization aims to give participants a sense of place by giving them a firsthand look at the natural world and affording them the opportunity to experience it.

Retail outlets in Steamboat Springs, Meeker, Walden and Hayden offer an array of items to rent and purchase.

School districts profit from Yampatika's resources. Teachers can check out discovery boxes that give hands-on understanding of Northwest Colorado's natural and cultural gems.

Yampatika's $137,000 budget is funded through benefits, program fees, partnerships with government and private organizations, grants and retail sales.

"Nonprofits come and go, but we're lucky we can still say we're in the running," Fuller said.

Those who are interested in Yampatika's interpretive programs or donating to the organization should call 871-9151.

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