Director’s Letter November 2020

porch marmot

Season of Giving

What type of person is RMBL looking to for support in the season of giving?  Our community is committed to science and education.  From medicine, to energy innovation, to smart phones, scientific innovation is the foundation of the modern world.  This is not a huge step for most, but there are a lot of scientific organizations.   Why RMBL?

RMBL supporters are passionate about the outdoors; many have had formative and powerful experiences outside.  Our community also values the importance of the natural world to well-being, affecting everything from mental health, to food security, to water, to air, and disease.  We attract people who combine a love of science with a passion for the outdoors.  But the world is a big place.  Why the high alpine valleys winding their way through the central Colorado Rockies of the Gunnison Basin, centered on Gothic?

Here’s my list, rooted in how the Power of Place transforms us and the world we live in.

RMBL provides experiences that transform individuals.  As children are pulled further into virtual, imaginary worlds they have fewer opportunities to wander through real meadows.  RMBL is increasingly important in introducing people of all ages to the wonders of the natural world.  An authentic research experience embedded in a longstanding community of scholars matters; assessment data shows that after a summer in Gothic undergraduates are twice as likely to go on to a PhD in science.  Read more about Daniel Novoa and his experience as a student at RMBL in the adjoining article.

RMBL science enchants and engages.  You don’t have to come to RMBL for our science to pull you in.  Whether it is stories of a socially distanced billy barr documenting a changing world or learning how hummingbirds have an extra dimension to see color compared to humans, RMBL science offers discovery and exploration for everybody.

RMBL reimagines how scientists see the world.  Our scientists use the valleys around Gothic to understand the entire world.  Federal funding agencies don’t have enough resources to study all the world’s ecosystems in great detail.  With the largest collection of long-term field studies and community of field scientists, RMBL’s integrated understanding of rich, diverse, and complex biological systems serves as a model, even if incomplete, that serves as a cost-effective foundation for understand the world’s biodiversity.

I often think about how field scientist Dr. Margaret Mead, once commented, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” My version, rooted in the idea of the Power of Place, is, “Never doubt that a community of scientists, students, and supporters of all ages, committed to understanding, inhabiting, and nurturing a place, can change how we see and manage the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever will”.

If you see yourselves in this vision, but haven’t yet made a year-end gift to RMBL, please do!  And don’t limit yourself.  There are field stations and marine laboratories across the world, each of which plays its own critical role in connecting people to landscapes.  Your support of place-based research and education, regardless of locale, will touch lives and make the world a better place.

Ian Billick - Director RMBL

Ian Billick | PhD
Executive Director, RMBL