Pinhead Institute's Board of Directors has selected Ramona Gaylord, a research biologist and science educator, to serve as its executive director beginning Jan. 1.
Gaylord, a Telluride resident of 11 years, was chosen from a large, national pool of highly qualified applicants.
"In these critical times, Pinhead's mission is acutely important," said Gaylord. "Pinhead hopes, firstly, to catalyze a love for nature through science and art. From this love, a second and more important goal of conservation can be achieved. People preserve only what they love; they cannot love what they do not know. Bioliteracy, what Pinhead strives to raise, is a fundamental human skill – essential for making wise conservation choices for our communities, our regions, and our planet."
Gaylord, who is passionate about preserving biodiversity, has worked for 20 years as a research biologist and science educator. She earned her bachelor's degree in microbiology at Colorado State University and her master's in science education at the University of Hawaii, going on to teach biology in Hawaii public schools for seven years, and science at the Telluride Mountain School.
Gaylord has spent many field seasons conducting applied conservation biology as well as designing and carrying out research projects in such places as Papua New Guinea and Hawaii's reefs and rainforests.
The mission of Pinhead Institute is to connect people to the natural world by teaching them how to read it. To achieve this mission, Pinhead offers the regional community a kaleidoscope of scientific education opportunities. Pinhead's K-12 programs – which include Scholars in the Schools, Internship Programs, Biodiversity Monitoring Projects, and Celebrating Biodiversity through Art & Science – serve all the students in the Norwood, West End, Telluride, Ouray and Ridgway school districts. About 1,800 students are served and 15,000 hours of programming provided at a cost of only $3.10 per student per hour. Pinhead's adult programs include Telluride Unearthed, Bear Creek Stewardship Course and Pinhead Town Talks.
New summer children's programs are also in store, under Gaylord's leadership. She is forging ahead with Pinhead's nascent relationship with the Telluride Academy, providing six scientists as guest mentors for the Academy's 2007 summer camps. This past summer, the Academy asked Pinhead to identify an entomologist who could teach exploratory entomology to small children. Thus, the "Insect Detective Camp" was born with visiting scientist Dr. Brian Fisher, long time Pinhead faculty member and Curator of Entomology at the California Academy of Sciences.
Another new summer science program for children that Gaylord will launch in 2007 is "Pinheads & Diggity Doggs: Real scientists talking with real kids." Pinhead will host science dialogues for children 8-12 years old. These fun, educational talks will be held in Mountain Village on Tuesday evenings, 5-6 p.m., before the Pinhead Town Talks. Simple kid meals will be served, including hot dogs, lemonade and chips. The presenters will be distinguished scientists participating in the Telluride Science Research Center or the science camps. These events are free of charge and will feature Gaylord as host and guiding science educator.