Located near Centura Health in Avon right off of I-70. An innovative natural science learning campus for residents and visitors of the Eagle Valley. Free and open to the public.

318 Walking Mountains Lane, Avon, CO 81620

Located at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola on Vail Mountain out of Lionshead Village, Vail. All visitors must have a pass to ride the gondola. Free and open to the public with valid gondola pass.
Nestled along Gore Creek near the Betty Ford Alpine Garden and Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail Village.
601 Vail Valley Drive, Vail, CO 81657

Curious Nature

Reflections on the Foley Graduate Fellowship: Growth, Gratitude and Moving Forward

Posted by Walking Mountains Science Center on Jul 1, 2024 10:58:32 AM
Walking Mountains Science Center

The Walking Mountains Foley Graduate Fellowship is a two-year, three-month program where educators teach school programs, summer camps and afterschool programs while earning their Master’s in Science Education from the University of Northern Colorado. In July, the educator team will narrow from twelve to eight as four of us graduate. As a graduating educator, I have reflected immensely on my experience over the past two years. In my reflection, two words stand out: growth and gratitude.

Each cohort of four educators comes up with their own creative name to strengthen their team mentality. My cohort had a hard time deciding. When asked what our name was going to be, our response was something along the lines of “well, we’re still marinating on it.” And thus, the Marinatorz came to be. The Marinatorz consist of myself (Katie Wareham), Keaton Cloven, Katie Geraci and Ryan Walton. Throughout my time with this cohort, I have witnessed immense growth amongst us all, both professionally and personally. We have supported each other through challenging coursework, tough work days, personal losses and celebrations. Together, we reached the final peak of completing our Action Research Projects, and now, the Marinatorz are in their descent.

felowsWhen there is a photoshoot, the Marinatorz become a rock band.

Action Research Projects are an opportunity for educators to implement something new into their teaching and analyze its impacts. These projects are the culmination of every educator’s hard work, and one of many ways we have grown as both teachers and students. In addition to our research, the Marinatroz have grown as leaders, increased our confidence in our teaching, expanded our outreach to diverse audiences, become more extroverted, and improved our time management skills. Growth is always something to be grateful for, but the gratitude does not end there.

This fellowship provides infinite things to be grateful for, yet all four of us agree that we are most grateful for the community, which has been invaluable. I have developed lifelong friendships throughout this adventure. Whether it’s skiing, rock climbing, playing volleyball, or watching a movie, there is no shortage of social activities amongst the educators. Throughout the fun, we have shared laughter and tears, challenged each other and ultimately forged enduring bonds with one another. While constant social interaction is wonderful, it can also be exhausting. My social battery can drain quickly when there is always something fun on the calendar, especially when homework is due!

fellosThe Marinatorz at 2022 Graduation–their first summer in the Fellowship.

As with anything rewarding, there are inevitable challenges. Balancing the demands of teaching full-time, attending graduate school and managing the myriad of tasks that come with being an educator is no easy feat. Finding time for a social life amidst our responsibilities can be difficult. Keaton mentioned the challenge of finding a community in Avon outside of the fellowship due to our schedules, living arrangements and school commitments. Katie G. also highlighted the strain of constant social interaction. We teach full-time, sit next to each other at work, attend classes together and live with each other, leaving little time for rest and solitude. Despite these challenges, I will miss every bit of this experience.

I am excited for what’s to come, but I know I will deeply miss the people and this beautiful campus that I have called home for over 2 years. To current and future fellows, my advice is this: be present in every moment. The days can be tough, and it is easy to wish them away, but the hard days make the good days better. Cherish the friendships, the hardships and the beauty around you. These memories will stay with you long after you leave.

Katie Wareham is a Walking Mountains Foley Graduate Fellow who will graduate in July.

Topics: Curious Nature

Walking Mountains Science Center

Written by Walking Mountains Science Center

Our mission is to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education.