Director’s Letter November 2019

Giving Starts at Home

RMBL relies upon donations to operate.  Scientists and students all pay to be at RMBL.  But we maintain 70+ buildings in a harsh environment almost 2 miles above sea level.  The elevation is a double whammy.  Not only does almost 40 feet of snow beat up the cabins, but Gothic is closed for half the year, limiting our ability to rent the cabins out year-round and spread out the cost of maintaining them.  Donations also allow us to support year-round K-12 programs and to accelerate discoveries by creating a data rich environment.

RMBL students, scientists, and alumni lead the way with giving.  In 2018 we had 15 RMBL alumni/current scientists donate at the Marmot Club level ($5,000+).  We also have many donors that give smaller amounts that are personally meaningful.  I’ve known students that have dug deep to make a $25 donation.  It matters and is appreciated.

Everybody’s motivation for giving is different.  The accompanying article about two long-time RMBL scientists and Marmot Club members that married after meeting on top of a peak outside Gothic is one such story.  My wife (RMBL’s Science Director, Dr. Jennie Reithel) and I are another.

We raised our annual gift to $10,000, which is a stretch for us.  As parents of teen-agers, we’re warily eyeing future college bills.  I will be older than all the presidential candidates when we pay off the mortgage for our house.  But RMBL is that important to us.  We both came here out of college and it has defined our professional lives.  Between us we have 60 Gothic summers.  We met and married here, and our kids have never seen summer anywhere beyond Gothic.

Our willingness to make such a large gift to RMBL is not just about our personal experiences.  We are passionate about the impact RMBL has on others.  We love the undergraduate program and how it manages to reach students from diverse backgrounds.  We are very excited about the growing K-12 programs.  Donations have made it possible for RMBL to hire a year-round Youth Science Coordinator and Ann Colbert is a gem.  She has a Master’s Degree and a teaching certificate, tons of experience working with students of all ages in the outdoors, and she gets RMBL!

We are also strongly motivated by our love of the outdoors, and the importance of science to the world’s future.  If it was just about our personal experiences in Gothic, and even the education programs, we probably wouldn’t give as much.  RMBL science won’t be a silver bullet but we believe that what RMBL is doing to transform field science will be a critical part of how the generations that follow us confront environmental challenges.  We know that our gift, which is quite large for us, but maybe small for other organizations, will have impact.  So we make the stretch!

Whether you are motivated by your own experiences, the experiences of those you love or will never know, or because you believe that science should inform environmental decision-making, we hope you join us!  Numbers matter, so whether your gift is large or small, it will make a difference.  And it is a wonderful community of which to be a part!

Ian Billick - Director RMBL

Ian Billick | PhD
Executive Director, RMBL