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A passion for pachyderms: Evergreen Girl Scout wants to be part of the solution

Written by Beth Foster on .

One recent Saturday evening, 34 people got together in downtown Evergreen to celebrate an animal that is most definitely not a Colorado native.

Hosted by Serena Weingardt, 13, a Girl Scout Cadette with Evergreen troop #1745, the “Pachyderm Party” filled Go Paint! with an enthusiastic group of artists and animal lovers ranging in age from 12 to 80. Each partygoer paid $40 to decorate a faceted ceramic rhinoceros using the paint-your-own-pottery studio’s inspiring collection of tints and tools.

It all started a couple of years ago, when Serena decided to work toward her Silver Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout Cadette can receive. To achieve this goal, the candidate must design and implement a major community-improvement project. Serena chose to support the Colorado-based Katie Adamson Conservation Fund, the mission of which is “to help empower the people of our planet to work together to save our remaining ecosystems and all of the creatures they contain.” More specifically, the fund supports efforts to protect fast-disappearing rhinos and elephants in Nepal and Tanzania.

Serena’s research led her to Dave Johnson, pachyderm zookeeper at the Denver Zoo and founder of the Katie Adamson fund. “She said she wanted to donate two years of her cookie money to the fund,” he remembers. “She handed me a check for $3,700.”

The two have partnered on other projects since they met last year, and to date Serena’s contributions have surpassed $5,000. This doesn’t count the $680 raised at the Go Paint! Pachyderm Party or the $500 in stuffed animals she donated to a Nepalese orphanage supported by the fund.

“Serena has invested every penny of her Girl Scout money into this project,” says her mother, Susan Weingardt. “We are extraordinarily blessed. She’s a good kid, and she wants to make a difference in the world.”

Go Paint! owner Karen Belmont agrees. “I am so proud of Serena,” she smiles. “I know there are great things in her future.”

The idea for the Go Paint! fundraiser was born a few months ago during one of Serena’s regular visits to the studio, where she’s been a steady customer for five years. “I was telling Karen about my Silver Award project,” Serena says, “and she said why don’t we have a party here to raise some money for the fund.” Karen remembered seeing a faceted rhinoceros in one of her product catalogs, and the party planning took off.

As she does with all the other community fundraisers she hosts in her studio, Karen Belmont pledged half the evening’s proceeds to the cause and started talking to her fellow downtown business owners. Thanks to their generosity, the rhino painters were treated to an amazing feast that included appetizers from Slope & Hatch, pizza from Beau Jo’s, blinis from Oh Crepe Colorado, and delectable desserts from Vivian’s Gourmet and Seasonally Yours . . . accompanied by libations from Creekside Cellars and Revival Brews.

The festivities were not dampened by the healthy dose of learning provided by Zookeeper Johnson, who explained that rhinos are the most endangered of the world’s large vertebrate animals. Potions made from rhino horn sell for as much as $100,000/kilogram in countries (primarily in Asia) where it is considered a miracle medicine, curing everything from hangovers to cancer. This creates a tempting target for poachers, who remove the horns and leave the rhinos’ bodies to rot. “We’re teaching villagers that the rhino is worth more alive than dead,” Dave says. “Dead, only a few people profit. Alive, they bring visitors, attention and desperately needed funding to whole communities.” To this end, the Katie Adamson Conservation Fund supports both animal sanctuaries and community sustainability projects. “We help the communities so they can help the rhinos,” he explains.

Katie Adamson was an Explorer Scout who was very involved in Dave Johnson’s projects and shared his zeal for protecting pachyderms. She knew from a very young age that she wanted to work with and care for wild animals, and from childhood on she pursued that goal with single-minded fervor. In 2007, during her freshman year in Colorado State University’s wild animal program, she was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. She died in 2014, after a seven-year battle that did nothing to dim her desire to help endangered species throughout the world. Dave Johnson created the conservation fund in her honor, and today leads groups to Nepal’s Chitwan National Park to carry on her work.

“It’s working,” he says. “Three years ago we were losing 10 to 12 rhinos annually to poaching at Chitwan. Last year we only lost one.”

“But we need people like Serena to take over,” he continues, “to do a better job than our generation did. We need people with passion to spread the word.”

Thirty-four people won’t soon forget the special evening they spent in that little paint-your-own-pottery studio, sharing food and friendship with likeminded animal lovers. How could they, with a one-of-a-kind handpainted keepsake rhino to remind them?

Learn more at KatieAdamsonConservationFund.org.

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Volunteers needed along marathon course

Written by Marie Lynch on .

Drive Smart still needs volunteers for the 4th Annual Revel Rockies Half and Full Marathons on Sunday, June 11, 2017.

Volunteers are needed along the race course to monitor intersections; at the start and finish lines; and at water stations to help runners have a safe, fun and successful race along the route from Echo Mountain Ski Area through Evergreen and on to Morrison. Many shift options available.

If you have a group of 6 to 10 volunteers, consider tending a water station along the course. Contact Marie for details! Please reply to this email or contact Marie Lynch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 303.250.3133 with any questions or to volunteer!

**Online option to volunteer for the REVEL ROCKIES: go to https://www.runrevel.com/rdv/volunteer Select: I am signing up as a group member Select: Drive Smart from the group option All the positions and times will be listed for you! For more information about the Revel Rockies race, please visit https://www.runrevel.com/rdv.

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Register online for the Freedom Run

Written by Beth Foster on .

Planning to walk or run in the July 4 Freedom Run 5K? Early registration has begun online at FreedomRunRace.org. You can sign up and pay your registration fee now, and pick up your t-shirt, race bib and timing chip at Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice (3081 Bergen Peak Dr., Evergreen) on Monday, July 3, or at the start line Tuesday, July 4.

Race participants who wish to fundraise for Mount Evans will be given the opportunity to create their own page at the registration website.

The race, a Fourth of July family tradition since 1982, starts at 8 a.m. at Evergreen Middle School and finishes with a post-race party at Nick’s Pro Fitness. All proceeds benefit Mount Evans. Children and youth 18 and under who register before the race pay only $15 to participate; the cost for adults is $35. (Registration is $20 and $40 on race day.) The post-race party includes lots of fun activities for everyone, including a bounce house, music, and free food and drink. To register, or for more information, visit FreedomRunRace.org, or call 303-674-6400 to request a registration form.

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2017 Bootstraps recipients announced

Written by Colleen Skates on .

TO ENLARGE PHOTOS ON THE HOME PAGE, CLICK ON THE HEADLINE ABOVE OR CONTINUE READING BELOW.

The Bootstraps Board of Directors, parents of students, and generous supporters celebrated the 2017 Bootstraps Awards Recipients at the Lake House on May 15th. Each recipient received special recognition and had the opportunity to meet and thank the people who are responsible for helping them pursue their educational dreams.

The recipients of awards for the 2017/2018 school year are:

  • Jasmine Anderson – Conifer High School
  • Richard Benson – Evergreen High School
  • Kendall Benton – Conifer High School
  • Jake Borchard – Conifer High School
  • Morgan Brown – Evergreen High School
  • Madison Cimler – Evergreen High School
  • Jocelyn Clark – Conifer High School
  • Antonio Delany – Evergreen High School
  • Cheyanna Duran – Conifer High School
  • Ryker Eagen – Evergreen High School
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Hummingbirds 101 the June program for Audubon

Written by Melissa Leasia on .

The June program for Evergreen Audubon is “Hummingbirds 101” slated for Thursday, June 1, 2017.  The doors open at 6:30 pm and the program starts at 7:00 pm. The program is held at 29997 Buffalo Park Road, Evergreen and is free and open to the public

Tom Wood, biologist/naturalist and co-founder of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory, will present “Hummingbirds 101.” Located near Bisbee, Arizona, SABO is dedicated research, public education and conservation of the birds of southern Arizona including 13 species of hummingbirds. Tom is an internationally respected hummingbird expert known for his enthusiastic and engaging presentations.

More information about Evergreen Audubon/Evergreen Nature Center programs and events is available on-line at: www.evergreenaudubon.org

photo by L.T. Leasia