January 2024 Newsletter

the power of PLACE

RMBL Youth Education Program


I have learned that
everything has its own language and that
if I listen carefully to the birds and the creatures,
and even the grasses,
I will hear the sound of God
in the music of the silence.
There are multiple realities surrounding me
and I know that I must keep the eyes of my heart open
to allow all of existence to be.

And I’m glad I was not told
any of these things
else I would not have grown as tall
nor stretched as far.
I am glad these things were kept hidden from me
until I could open the gate to taste and touch,
to smell and feel, and
to discover my self along the way.

(from Learning Life by Catherine Garland, An Elk Mountain Poet)

If RMBL’s education program were a pill you could buy and swallow all the good things students get from working with our scientists and hiking local trails, the RMBL “pill factory” would be worth billions. In the pharmaceutical industry it costs around $1 billion to bring a drug to market. When you get something that works, like the RMBL education program, you can command premium pricing!

Ian Billick - Director RMBL

Ian Billick | PhD
Executive Director, RMBL


Anna Reilly and Matt Cullinan

The price of nature

It’s a common story. A family visits Crested Butte to ski, falls in love with the alpine wonderland, and returns again and again. Soon they discover the gifts that other seasons bring, like summer’s riotous explosion of wildflowers and fall’s golden blankets of aspens.

Before long, they’ve bought a home and claimed a piece of the West Elk Mountains as their own. Spending any time in the Crested Butte area means rubbing shoulders with RMBL researchers. That leads to questions about what goes on at Gothic, which leads to the discovery of one of science’s hidden gems, a place so valuable that it influences environmental policies and attracts a star-studded cast of scientists from around the world to mine its treasures.

In the 1990s, Anna Reilly and Matt Cullinan made an accidental trip to Crested Butte as it was the only available destination for a last-minute ski trip. That began a multi-decade love affair with Gunnison Valley.