Steamboat Springs The staff of Yampatika, a nonprofit for education about the natural environment, received an early holiday gift Thursday when the last check needed to secure a $5,000 gift arrived in the mail.
"The money will be used to support our programs, and everything helps," senior naturalist Karen Vail said. "But it means so much to know we have the community support."
Yampatika organizes trained naturalists who lead members of the public on outdoor excursions in both summer and winter. Their calendar of events, including snowshoe hikes, can be viewed at Yampatika.org.
This month's fund drive was triggered by an anonymous "challenge gift of $5,000. It was contingent upon the organization being able to match the gift with a total of $5,000 in matching gifts. And they weren't allowed to rely on insiders. The deadline was Dec. 31. The successful drive resulted in $10,000 flowing into Yampatika's bank account. The nonprofit spent $103,000 on operations in 2006 and had income of $101,000.
"The donor insisted we couldn't accept matching gifts from members of our board of directors," Vail said. The intent was to increase the number of stakeholders in Yampatika, she added.
Vail said Yampatika received about 25 unique donations varying in amount from $50 to $500.
As a premium to entice people to make significant donations, Vail offered a limited number of personal natural history excursions in the mountains and meadows surrounding Steamboat in the spring.
Yampatika will begin the New Year with a new event, the History Mystery Snowshoe Race at the Carpenter Ranch on the Yampa River near Hayden. It will take place from 3 to 7 p.m. Jan. 6. Although it's a race in the snow, the contestant with the best knowledge of natural and cultural history in the area may be the winner.
The race will be followed by a meal from the Steamboat Smokehouse. The entry fee is $50.
Learn more about Yam-
patika's mission by calling 871-9151 or visiting the office at 925 Weiss Drive, in the U.S. Forest Service building.