Despite little interest in pursuing a career in education, high school student Ed Hayne somehow found himself president of Adams City High School's chapter of Future Teachers of America.
After all, it was a job as a park ranger that Hayne envisioned for himself, at least until he learned he would have to shave his beard and live in less-than-ideal locations.
Three decades later, Hayne -- the teacher -- is retiring from the South Routt School District after 27 years of teaching science to Routt County students.
"It's a move I definitely haven't regretted," said Hayne, 52, of his decision to become a teacher.
And to top off a distinguished teaching career, Hayne's retirement meets a long-held personal goal.
"My goal has always been to quit teaching before they asked me to leave and to do my job so well that it would be hard to replace me," he said.
Soroco High School Principal James Chamberlin already dreads losing one of the district's top teachers.
"He's going to be a very difficult person to replace," Chamberlin said. "He's one of those guys that is always there to support the school and the system."
Chamberlin also pointed to Hayne's work outside of the classroom, such as his community involvement and volunteer work, as a testament to his integrity. Hayne also has served on numerous school district committees and groups.
"He is a stand-up educator who's committed to students and puts in countless hours to ensure student success," Chamberlin said.
In that effort, Hayne virtually has created the school's science program, and his successor will inherit a program Hayne has spent decades adjusting and expanding.
Hayne said he prides himself on being able to use different means to achieve the same ends with students. By using differing lessons and activities to teach the same topic, the veteran teacher is able to keep his job fresh and exciting.
"I think that's a key to keeping yourself motivated," Hayne said.
Among his numerous accomplishments is making Soroco High School the state's first school to participate in the River Watch program, an initiative that has students test and monitor river water and, in turn, provide state-level agencies with reliable, accurate water quality data.
He also helped start a Study Buddies program that pairs Soroco High School students with Steamboat elementary students, and the Community Mapping Program, among others.
But Hayne is quick to deflect credit.
"They're somebody else's programs, I just happened to be there to try it," he said. "It was me being willing to say 'yes' to someone else's ideas."
Whether it's fate or just being in the right place at the right time, Hayne reflects on some of the events in his life and chuckles at how nicely they all fell into place.
His grandparents lived in the Yampa Valley, and he spent many summers here as a child. He even attended Yampa Elementary School as a fifth- and sixth-grader.
"I've always thought of the (Yampa) Valley as the place I'd like to be," he said.
He graduated from Colorado State University in Fort Collins and moved to Australia for two years, where he taught in a public school system and met his wife, Kate, who served as his supervising teacher.
Upon his return to the United States, Hayne found an opening for a science teaching position with the South Routt School District. He seized the opportunity and was hired shortly thereafter.
"I thought I had died and gone to heaven," he said. "Things were going well."
Kate, whom he married in Denver, found a middle school science opening with the district just a couple of years later, and she continues to teach there.
The couple's two children are now in college, and Hayne said he looks forward to the freedom of retirement.
"It's time for a new adventure," he said. "Something that doesn't require me to be at a certain place at a certain time."
He plans to travel and maybe even buy a home in Fiji, where the country's biology is a scientist's dream come true. In the meantime, Hayne will be relaxing near the waterfall and pond he recently built in his back yard.
He'll be dearly missed within the district, said longtime friend and high school teacher Greg Binsfeld.
"I think he's just about the finest educator I've ever worked with," Binsfeld said last week. "He's got a great rapport with kids, and he's innovative. I keep trying to talk him into staying."
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