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Love is in the air!

Elk in RMNP

A group of KSS field instructors and I visited Rocky Mountain National Park recently to witness the yearly elk rut for ourselves. Much like people the male elk do everything they can to impress the ladies. Male elk (bucks) who do so with Dicaprian skill can build harems (groups of ladies) of over 30. These lady elk (cows) are drawn to intimidating racks of antlers, loud bugling (elk yelling), impressive muscles, and passionate confessions of love aboard glamorous boats.

We had the good fortune of observing over a couple of hours one male elk with an impressive rack—seven points—build his harem from 28 to 29, then back to 28, and then up to 31. Elk are prone to drama, if you didn't know. At one point he swung his horns into a nearby pine tree's branches to intimidate his competitors, of which there were several out in the open fields near Bear Lake. Soon after he acquired his 31st companion he decided to take a seat and rest while a pair of other males fought a few hundred yards away. It was an impressive sight and well worth the long drive from Summit County to Rocky Mountain National Park.

I've learned much about the wonders of biology in the past few months at Keystone Science School. I now know that some arctic fish can produce their own antifreeze, and that some bacteria breathe iron, and that trees can share nutrients through fungal connections. And now that I've seen the dramatic dating rituals of elk first hand, I'm feeling relieved to be a human.

Happy Birthday to our Founder and Friend!

Bob Craig

We are excited and honored to be celebrating the birthday of our founder and friend, Robert W. Craig, who turned 90 years old this month. Craig, who most frequently describes himself as the “ultimate accidental tourist,” served in the U.S. Navy as an officer on an attack cargo ship (AKA 80), graduated in biology and philosophy from the University of Washington and Columbia University, was also the first Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Aspen Institute from 1953 to 1965 and co-founder of the Aspen Center for Physics. He served as President of the American Alpine Club after a long career in mountaineering, including guiding on Mt. Rainier, and as a team member and leader of several Himalayan expeditions. He was elected to the American Mountaineering Hall of Fame in 2009. When he left the Aspen Institute in 1963 he purchased and ran a cattle ranch near Aspen and then spent 10 years in the industrial design industry before coming to Keystone at the behest of his good friend Robert A. Maynard, President of Keystone Resort. Maynard asked Craig, “Do you have another Aspen in you?” Craig responded, “No, but I have an idea that may prove equally important.”

Robert W. Craig founded Keystone Science School in 1976 as a division of The Keystone Center. The Center’s overall goal was to address difficult environmental and public policy issues affecting industry, government, and the environment applying the discipline of science and bringing all the appropriate constituents to the table. At the same time, given the remarkable environment of Keystone, Craig felt it would be novel and exciting to have school children learning the spirit of science in the five ecosystems of Summit County from Loveland Pass to the Colorado River at Kremmling. The hope was, these kids, acquainted with the spirit of scientific observation, might well contribute to good policy making in the future.

After more than 38 years working toward these goals, we feel both proud and privileged to have Bob Craig’s mentorship and vision guiding so much of what we do.

Making a Difference

Winterizing TeePeesThis past weekend on September 13th, Keystone Science School staff and volunteers came together to take part in the 16th annual Summit County Make a Difference Day. While the national Make a Difference Day isn’t until October 25th, those of us in the high country know that winter comes very early up here and October is often too late to be working outside. This is why the county-wide event organizers decided to push the event forward this year in hopes of better weather. And it proved to be the right decision. Light breezes and sunny skies made for a beautiful day to be working outdoors.

Our intrepid volunteers joined us on campus to build trails, winterize campus, and do some much-needed weed pulling in the gardens. We’re so appreciative of the help and all the community support we receive throughout the year. Projects like these take more man power and time than we often have available to us, but they are things that need to get done and that make our campus and programs better for everyone who comes to KSS.

Thank you so much to all our volunteers who make KSS such a wonderful place to be!

make a difference

Cleaning up


KSS Staff Music Video

Every year our Camp Programs staff make a music video together. It's a team-building activity and a chance to share some of their energy, enthusiasm, and unique personalities with everyone in the community. It always sets a fun tone for the entire season.

As summer ends and fall greets us with rain, golden leaves, and crisper air, we're feeling nostalgic on this grey Tuesday in Keystone. So here's some sunshine and summer fun to carry you through the week!