Laurie Lundquist, environmental artist (Telluride, CO and Tempe, AZ)
The Telluride Institute has a long record of bringing intellectual and creative luminaries to the western slope to stimulate discussions about issues that affect our region. The first Telluride institute IDEAS Festival that I attended was the eye-opening and inspiring 1992 Ideas Festival on WATER. The event featured 3 days of panel discussions and presentations by highly respected water lawyers, politicians and environmental activists as well as thought provoking art installations and performances on the topic of contested water. The Institute’s “INFOZONE” project was another groundbreaking effort which provided the first internet access to the entire town in 1993- way ahead of the curve for most rural communities. The whole region has benefitted from  the Institute’s work over the years including their educational programs and various initiatives that serve to elevate the community at large. I recognize the Telluride Institute as an important force in making Telluride a spawning ground for great Ideas, environmental awareness, creativity and compassionate thinking.


Ehren Borg (Telluride, CO)
I have been involved with the Telluride Institute’s many excellent programs for several years now. A particular highlight was having the opportunity to help with the Compassion Festival in 2012. This festival and conference, held in cooperation with Stanford’s CCARE program, brought scientists, specialists, spiritual leaders and laypeople together to discuss the latest research findings on the science of compassion. This was also the first time ever (as far as I know) that Buddhist monks and Native Americans worked side by side on sand paintings — two separate cultures separated by thousands of miles yet joined together by an incredibly similar form of religious and artistic expression. Absolutely amazing!


Mo Hanna, Middle School Language Arts Teacher (Norwood, CO)
I am writing to extol the great benefits my students receive by participating in the Telluride Watershed Education programs of the Telluride Institute.  The Norwood Middle School snowshoe trip is the highlight of the year for the students who attend.  The chance to get into the back country for experiential education is an amazing opportunity for my students, and the fact that WEP manages to make it happen through grant funding is even more spectacular.  It is an unforgettable educational experience that helps these students to have fun and learn about traveling safely in the back country that is their backyard here in San Miguel County.  WEP also made the 6th grade start of the year camping trip possible by providing  support and curriculum to this group bonding experience.  We are so fortunate to be included in this type of educational programming, and I hope others can see the value of this educational outreach and will consider supporting it.  When contemplating where to donate your hard earned money, please give to the Telluride Watershed Education Program; it will be money well spent.


Jonathan Barfield, PhD (Placerville, CO)
The Telluride Institute (TI) is a luminary and pragmatic non-profit organization on the Western Slope that supports our development as a compassionate and educated community – both locally and globally. TI’s interdisciplinary and collaborative work in the field of compassion and mindfulness research has recently culminated in the highest level international conference on compassion that has ever occurred. Even with a 30+ year track record in transformative education and significant accomplishments, I believe we will see much more from TI in the years to come.


Susan Viebrock, writer/editor, Telluride Inside…and Out (Telluride, CO)

The Telluride Institute’s calendar (https://www.tellurideinstitute.org/calendar.html) is just the tip of an iceberg that goes very deep. Perhaps a bad metaphor, since those things are melting. The Institute is still hot. Take for example  its most recent success, a guest appearance by the iconic artist Christo.

As many know, over a 40-year career (and counting), Christo and his wife and artistic partner Jeanne-Claude (now deceased) became world famous for transforming everyday urban and rural environments into places of magic and wonder. Christo came to town to discuss the status of his latest adventure, “Over the River,” a project proposed for a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River between Salida and Canon City. It was a standing room only crowd at the historic Sheridan Opera House.

Telluride was an unscheduled stop. Christo’s itinerary called for a talk in Aspen only. Why did he show up? The trip to our box canyon was added to his scheduled thanks to Pamela Zoline, co-founder (with husband John) of the Telluride Institute. Pamela is a magnet for highly interesting, highly accomplished people, who serve as examples for what is possible in the world with vision, talent, and focus.

People like Christo, yes, but also like Dr. James Doty.

Doty is a neurosurgeon and head of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Pamela, John and the Telluride Institute joined forces with Doty to bring the Compassion Festival to Telluride. The shared vision was about changing the world one empathetic act at a time. Heady? Yes. Possible? Also yes. Speakers at Compassion Festival offered up study after study illustrating ways compassion can be cultivated.

I have attended Telluride Institute programs since the 1990s, when I first came to town. The Ideas Festival, which focused on important issues such as water. The Mushroom Festival, which offers a baskets full of ways mycelium are changing the world.

The Telluride Institute is on the cutting edge of ideas worth knowing and initiatives worth pursuing (such as its Watershed Education Program, https://www.tellurideinstitute.org/fall.html).


Paula Ciberay, Youth Services Program and Outreach Manager, Wilkinson Public Library (Telluride, CO)
The Telluride Institute Watershed Education puppet shows have informed the children/parents of our community through fun and entertaining performances. They hold the children’s attention while conveying vital information on how to best live with bears. The
children leave fully informed after having had a very good time. Every year the Watershed Education Program also captivates the children, through our library, educating them on the Watershed habitats from beginning to end. We sincerely appreciate this educational opportunity which inspires us all to take care of the delicate environment we are so privileged to share.


David Paul Kuntz  (Ames, CO)
The Telluride Institute has been an exceptional and influential organization in our extended regional community. I have participated in numerous events they have sponsored throughout the years. My favorites change with each new event but the Compassion festival is one gathering that resonates with me in its insight and hope for new approaches to education and outreach. The numerous programs they have initiated have had  enormous influence on education and community cohesion. Since 1992, TI have brought guest speakers, teachers, and celebrities to our town to inspire ideas and discussion on important topics and issues. Their ongoing educational programs have been most relevant to our next generation and have shared new science with everyone participating. The Watershed Education Program and the Bridal Veil Living Classroom Program are both so vital to our kids understanding of the natural environment we live in. These programs have  supplemented our school district attempts to
teach effectively. I would commend and promote TI in its ongoing efforts to inform and benefit our community through all its varied events and programs. Thanks to the staff and founders for this good work.

Seth Cagin, Publisher (former), The Watch Newspaper (Telluride, CO)
Marta Tarbell, Editor (former), The Watch Newspaper (Telluride, CO)
We would like to offer unqualified support to the Telluride Institute in any bid for funding.

Over the years we have been consistently impressed by the Institute’s innovative programming.  As newspaper publishers in the Telluride region for 20 years, we have observed the Institute’s success in two remarkable achievements:  (1) creating an awareness that a watershed is a geographical entity that ought to be respected; and (2) creating an understanding in Telluride that affordable housing is an essential part of a sustainable resort community.

But this is only the start of what the Institute has meant to the region.  The Institute’s support for the Telluride Mushroom Festival has produced a local awareness of the importance of fungi in ecological and culinary respects.  And the Compassion Festival has enriched both the Telluride community and has helped support scientific awareness by recognizing the importance of new modes of awareness.

Please support the Telluride Institute in any way you can.


Iva Jehlicková, Nursing Student, Ski Patrol (Telluride, CO)
The Telluride Institute is a one of a kind non-profit organization in our region. It encompasses so much and caters to everyone, yet has a well-defined goal – to foster a sense of stewardship for our environment within every one of us. The Watershed Education Program is an indispensable part of our schools’ curricula, bringing children out of the classroom and offering hands-on learning about the lifeline of their land. The TI’s Greenbucks voucher program is a brilliant example of complementary economy, and I’ll never forget meeting one of the founding fathers of the Euro at the 2005 Ideas Festival. The Mushroom Festival has turned people who’d never even dream about eating a mushroom into avid mycologists. At the Compassion Festival, all aspects of stewardship of our planet seemed to come together. One can rely on the Telluride Institute to always bring up interesting and pressing issues, pertinent to everyone, whether young or old, mountain man or city dweller, layperson or professional.


 The Hon. Art Goodtimes, San Miguel County Commissioner (Telluride, CO)
The Telluride Institute has been at the forefront of environmental and social issues in Telluride and the region since its inception. It’s stimulated thinking on a national scale with its Idea Festivals (Reinventing Politics, Glasnost, etc.) and its Composer-to-Composer series. It’s been a leader in getting a regional Watershed Coalition formed, reached out to youth all up and down the San Miguel Basin for environmental monitoring and education, and in recent years in taking on the Telluride Mushroom Festival — one of the premiere mycological events in the country. Its Infozone project was one of the ground-breaking community networks world-wide, just as the Internet was being born. Recently the Institute has teamed up with Stanford University and others to host a Compassion Festival, drawing representatives from the Dalai Lama to interested parties from around the country. While others focus on economics, the Telluride Institute is an incubator for social and environmental ideas that have the potential to change the world.


Brita Padgett, Teacher, Naturita Middle School (Naturita, CO)
I have the great pleasure to be able to relate firsthand how the Watershed Education Program (WEP), working under the umbrella of the Telluride Institute, has had a positive impact on my own children as well as on my middle school students.  Both of my daughters were fortunate enough to participate in the snowshoe trip, four years apart.  It was a highlight of middle school for them both. Marissa, currently a freshman at the Colorado School of Mines, attended the Bridal Veil Living Classroom program the summer before her junior year of high school.  She made friends and connections with other people her age with similar interests within neighboring communities, she literally hiked to heights never before achieved by her, and she explored the outdoor world as a scientist, something she currently is pursuing as her career goal.  Both of my daughters have also enjoyed the benefit of the annual field trips arranged by WEP for their public school in which they visit, explore, and learn about their watershed. As a teacher for the West End Public School District, I had the pleasure of being part of another WEP-sponsored field trip.  As part of a whole school unit on agriculture, we took about 30 of our students to visit the Indian Ridge Farm and the Norwood Community Garden.  The students were interested, engaged, and sincerely impressed by both operations.  The Telluride Institute has been an incredibly positive force in all of our communities for many years.  I will continue to rely on it as a resource and look forward with anticipation to partaking in as many of their programs and activities as possible, for myself, my children, and the students I serve.


Stacie Narramore,  Naturita Middle School Science Teacher (Naturita, CO)
The Watershed Education Program has been an invaluable resource to Naturita Middle School students, allowing for classroom instruction to be directly tied into real world experiences.  With the expertise of the WEP staff, students participate in a data driven comparative study of the San Miguel and Dolores river systems. Macroinvertebrates are collected and identified and stream flow analyses are determined to compare river quality and overall health. Learning field data collection techniques to compare the two river systems in our area allows for a deeper appreciation of our watershed.  Thank you for giving us such a wonderful opportunity to make learning relevant and enjoyable.


Alexander Stipsits, Chair of the Board & Founding Director of the Institut Slavonice and Centre for the Future (Czech Republic)
The Telluride Institute first came to my attention in 1996 when its founders attended an event they cosponsored on the Navajo Nation. Since then I have had the pleasure to also actively participate in TI activities, especially the Native Programs, the uniquely important Watershed education program, and in recent years the Compassion Festivals. The outstanding quality of the programming and meticulously professional execution continues to impress, and for me personally it is the deep dedication of the people involved that keeps me coming back for more. So much so that when we decided to found an institution in Central Europe to move forward urgent issues in sustainability and education it was the TI, its founders and board, that inspired and assisted us in realizing our objectives. Thank you – may we continue in long-term cooperation.



BVLC Alumni Student Narratives

Nina Gerona, 2009
I applied to BVLC the summer before my Junior year with some reluctance.  I was never a “science” person, I knew almost nothing about biology and had no real interest in scientific research. However, my experience with BVLC and Alessandra in particular, has changed that completely and had a profoundly positive impact in my life today.

BVLC was, I’m sure, a large part of the reason I was accepted into Wesleyan University where I am now currently enrolled.  When I was accepted I was also chosen as one of five students accepted as a fellow to
the school’s College of the Environment.  With this award I was given $5,000 to design an environmentally focused project.  With the money I was able to travel to Bali, Indonesia to work with Big Tree Farms, an organic and sustainable food company that works in the field with farmers to set up sustainable supply chains.  I plan to return this upcoming summer to continue my work with the company.  However, being accepted into the College of the Environment has also allowed me to attend many exclusive and interesting dinners, events and lectures, all of which would never have happened without BVLC.

Beyond just expanding my future opportunities, BVLC gave me a greater appreciation for nature.  Being outdoors and interacting with nature has always been a passion of mine.  However, BVLC helped me gain a better understanding of my surroundings, the complexity of the interacting ecosystems and an desire to make sure these habitats will be around for generations to come.

I would encourage anyone even slightly interested in joining the program to apply, it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Plus, it’s a lot of fun!

Sarah Carlson, 2007
Bridal Veil Living Classroom is an incredible opportunity for young minds to get firsthand experience with the process of completing a scientific experiment.  Alessandra and her team have done a great job at outlining the scientific method, from initial research and gaining a baseline understanding, all the way to writing a formal technical report based on conclusive data.  BVLC absolutely sparked my interest in science, and gave me the courage to pursue a degree in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering (and a minor in Bioengineering and Life Sciences).  My experience with the 5 month research program has given me a great experience to talk about in interviews, and let’s be honest, it was a blast!  Considering all of my past internships and summer programs in the field of science, BVLC was without a doubt the most enjoyable and engaging experience.

Saundra Royer, 2007 (Norwood, CO)
I look back on my experience as a Bridal Veil Living Classroom student fondly. The beauty of the Telluride Mountains, our knowledgable  instructors, and the hands on learning opportunities were incredible. I had never before and have never since had a class teach me so much in a short period of time. The valuable information we were taught about area history, local flora and fauna, and the inner workings of the high alpine ecosystem we studied in was well balanced with how much fun we had. The scientific research paper I was challenged to write with data I personally collected well prepared me for many scientific papers I have since written throughout my undergraduate studies. Being able to offer this class is an incredible chance for the lucky students who are involved. Every kid should get a chance to take a class like this.

The valuable information we were taught about area history, local flora and fauna, and the inner workings of the high alpine ecosystem we studied in was well balanced with how much fun we had.  The scientific research paper I was challenged to write with data personally
collected well prepared me for many scientific papers I have since written throughout my undergraduate studies.

-Saundra Royer, BVLC Alumni 2007 (Norwood, CO)

Marissa Padgett, 2011
The Bridal Veil Living Classroom program opened my eyes to nature. Even though I suffer allergies caused by all types of vegetation, BVLC provided me a summer full of outside fun and adventure. BVLC heightened my awareness of nature and its many components. I can now walk around naming different plant and flower species and popping fun facts about pika. BVLC was primarily educational but was also great fun. I had a wonderful time camping up at Blue Lake and, to this day, talk about that hike. BVLC was a summer I will never forget as it was mentally stimulating, adventurous, and I was able to meet and reconnect with many great people. With BVLC under my belt, I had the confidence and credentials to go to Pinhead for an internship. BVLC has looked really nice on my resume and colleges and scholarships have taken note of my extra-curricular activity. The Bridal Veil Living Classroom is a great program that I hope to see for many years to come.

Brittney Manzagol 2009
Bridal Veil Living Classroom was an important step in my academic development.  It gave me the opportunity before college to determine if I was interested in ecology and environmental studies.  The rigorous but creative environment allowed me to learn a lot about subalpine ecology while exploring what it means to be a “scientist.”  I was allowed to create my own project, which is something that most students do not do until their upper division classes.   I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be a BVLC student.  Not only did it jump start my education and give me important academic credits for my Environmental Studies Major at CU-Boulder, but it also help challenge me intellectually.  I was more prepared for college after taking BLVC, and had a greater understanding and appreciation for our natural environment.

Jessie Hild, 2011
I felt the cold weight of the increment borer in my hand as I hiked up the mountain side, searching for a mature Spruce that would fit the qualifications of my tree growth research study. I was participating in a college-level field biology course on biodiversity, called Bridal Veil Living Classroom.

The distant sound of thunder rang through my ears as I found the perfect tree, inserted the borer and began twisting. The tree resisted the alien metal, forcing me to throw my whole weight behind each turn. Once I reached the core of the tree, I turned the borer counterclockwise to extract the sample. It was perfect: no two rings alike. The white and brown stripes encoded a 150 year history. The large white gaps between rings recorded a year of prosperity; the small brown rings, a year of poverty.
This wood sample made me think of the “rings” in my own life.  I, too, have rings that signify the different triumphs and disappointments that have transformed me. I wouldn’t be the same person without my athletics; they will forever be part of my rings. Ice hockey requires teamwork, and competitive running requires a work ethic and dedication that few people possess.  My large, white rings of triumph include my 3rd place finish at the Tier II Hockey Nationals in 2011, as well as the numerous titles my track and cross country teams have won. My internship at the Gabrieli Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology along with my AP Psychology class have created rings representing my desire to pursue that field. Because I have grown up in a small ski town, everything I do revolves around nature. My Wilderness First Responder certification and the two weeks I spent in an Outdoor Leadership Challenge, a preparatory program for junior summer camp counselors in the Telluride area, have had a significant impact on the creation of the rings that signify my love for the outdoors. This field biology course, Bridal Veil Living Classroom, created the rings of knowledge regarding my local ecosystem.

I am like a tree in the sense that I grow from my surroundings. When given nutrients, I flourish; in times of drought, I am forced to become self-reliant. My droughts are caused by loneliness, fear, sadness, as well as unexpected road blocks that I need to overcome. In times like these, I focus on weathering the elements that cause the drought.  My nutrients consist of courage, determination, passion, love, and the support of my loved ones. I stand tall and strong in the face of adverse conditions. My concussion, a three on a three-point scale, left a brown ring of defeat but also a white ring signifying my strength.
A crack of lightning lit up the dark sky. One-one-thousand. Two-one-thousand. Three-one-thousand. The deep thunder shook the trees ar
ound me. I rushed to the next tree and inserted the borer again.  As I finished, cold raindrops began to pour out of the ominous clouds. I tucked my nine samples beneath my arm and began running down the mountain side, with another newly created ring.

This course allowed me to emerge myself into the ecosystem I have grown up in.  I now consider myself truly aware of my world, and subsequently I have become more a part of it than ever before.

Emily Case, 8th grade student – Naturita Middle School (Naturita, CO)
As a sixth grader I had the opportunity to go on the snowshoe trip to the High Hut Camp with the Watershed Education Program. I remember getting sick hiking up the mountain and then being so relieved when I saw the roof of the cabin; knowing there was only a short distance left to an inviting stay. I have fond memories of playing in the snow that was almost taller than me and telling scary stories next to the wood burning stove. A few of my favorite parts of the trip were making dinner as a group and learning about snow science.  The trip down was much easier than going up and took much less time. I had so much fun: I laughed, learned, and challenged myself physically. Thank you so much for taking us on the trip, I had a blast.

 Maddie Crowell, BVLC Alumni 2007 (Telluride, CO)
The skills I developed with BVLC have carried me through the years and influenced my decision to pursue a scientific degree.  BLVC is a unique opportunity to dive into the world of field research and conduct hands-on experiments at a pace and level conducive to each individual.  BVLC is where I keyed out my first alpine wild flower, cored a tree, and eventually wrote my first scientific research paper.