The Story of Keystone Science School (Part 3)


2007: Expansion of Programs

In 2007, under the leadership of a new Executive Director, Ellen Reid, Keystone Science School embarked on a period of innovation and expansion, introducing new programs and initiatives to enhance the student experience. The year marked the beginning of the Day Camp program, providing children with engaging outdoor activities and hands-on learning opportunities during the summer months. Additionally, the school celebrated the “first light” of its Observatory, offering students and visitors a unique glimpse into the wonders of the night sky. Furthermore, the construction of a yurt on campus provided a cozy and versatile space for educational workshops and gatherings. These developments underscored Keystone Science School’s commitment to providing diverse and immersive educational experiences that foster a love for the outdoors and inspire curiosity about the natural world.

2008: Introduction of After-School Program

In 2008, Keystone Science School continued to expand its offerings and reach, marking another milestone year in its history. This year saw the launch of the school’s first after-school program, providing students with opportunities for continued learning and exploration beyond the traditional classroom setting. The program aimed to engage students in hands-on activities and outdoor adventures, fostering a deeper connection to nature and a passion for science and environmental stewardship.

2009 – Renovation & Establishment

In 2009, Keystone Science School undertook significant renovations and improvements to enhance its facilities and programs. The year marked the beginning of a major renovation project for Rives Dining Hall, which included moving the entrance from the north to the south side of the building and creating the Hawkeye Health Center. Despite the challenges posed by construction, the school’s chef continued to provide meals for students from a trailer, ensuring that the dining hall remained operational throughout the renovation process. Beyond infrastructure upgrades, 2009 also saw the establishment of the Board of Trustees, providing strategic direction and governance oversight for Keystone Science School.

2010 – Milestones and Setbacks

In 2010, Keystone Science School reached a significant milestone by fully covering its costs. This achievement marked a new chapter in the school’s history, providing greater autonomy and control over its operations and finances. However, the year also brought unexpected challenges when the yurt on campus caught fire and melted due to an old cord being left plugged in. Despite the setback, the school rallied together and rebuilt the yurt by June, showcasing resilience and determination in the face of adversity. This incident served as a reminder of the importance of safety protocols and maintaining infrastructure, but also highlighted the school’s ability to overcome obstacles and adapt to change. Overall, 2010 was a year of growth, accomplishment, and resilience for Keystone Science School, setting the stage for continued success in the years to come.

2011 – CATCH Begins

Over the decades KSS has evolved to provide increasingly diverse and accessible programs around leadership development, STEM-based education, health and nutrition, teacher professional development, and experiential learning. Some new initiatives include CATCH Afterschool (started August 2011) and Summer CATCH Camp (starting June 2015) which provide out-of-school physical activity and nutrition education for elementary-aged students in Summit County. These programs operate on a sliding fee scale with the goal of serving as many low- and moderate-income families as possible.

2013 – KSS Becomes Independent

KSS was founded as part of a larger nonprofit organization, The Keystone Policy Center, to develop critical thinking skills in future generations of leaders using science and the outdoors as a backdrop. In 2013, Keystone Science School became an independent nonprofit organization after the incredible fundraising efforts led by the executive director Ellen Reid, alongside local community members and long-time supporters of the School. A task force comprised of many who deeply believe in KSS’s mission guided the organization on this journey to independence. Both nonprofit organizations are thriving today keeping Bob Craig’s original goals in mind.

2015 – Girls In STEM

In 2015, Keystone Science School launched its groundbreaking Girls in STEM program, marking a significant step forward in promoting diversity and inclusion in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Recognizing the importance of addressing the gender gap in STEM education and careers, the program provided young women with opportunities to explore these fields in a supportive and empowering environment. Through engaging activities, experiments, and group projects, the Girls in STEM program aimed to boost confidence, encourage participation, and inspire a passion for STEM subjects among female students. Research has shown that when given the opportunity to work in a girls-only setting, girls are more likely to speak up, develop self-confidence, and pursue further study or a career in STEM. By launching this program, Keystone Science School demonstrated its commitment to empowering young women and preparing them for success in the 21st-century workforce.

2015 – Burton Winter catalog photoshoot

In 2015, Keystone Science School also received national recognition when it was chosen as the location for the Burton Winter catalog photoshoot. This collaboration with Burton, a leading snowboard and winter sports brand, showcased the school’s picturesque campus and highlighted its unique outdoor learning environment.

2019 – Tieken Place Completed: A Place To Inspire

KSS made great strides in 2019 to invest in our future with the completion of our Capital Campaign, A Place to Inspire. Thanks to the incredible support of our partners, donors, and community, a total of 179 gifts raised $3.95M towards the project exceeding our original fundraising goal of $3.9M. We are grateful to be a part of this generous community. At the front of campus, Tieken Place serves as the center of activity and a welcoming entrance to visitors and participants while providing additional parking capacity. The program staff can now work alongside marketing and development staff, helping each team to think more broadly about the work they do. The addition of indoor teaching spaces in Tieken Place increases connectivity throughout our organization. The administrative staff is one step closer to Science. Adventure. and FUN! by looking out the windows seeing students arriving and departing campus or actively learning in the classrooms.

2020-2021 – COVID Hits

In 2021, Keystone Science School faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many educational institutions around the world, the school was forced to close its doors temporarily to ensure the safety of its staff and participants. However, despite these obstacles, Keystone Science School demonstrated resilience and adaptability by reopening its residential camp programs later in the year. With careful planning and adherence to strict health and safety protocols, the school was able to resume its regular summer programming at half capacity. This allowed students to once again experience the joy of outdoor education and exploration while prioritizing their health and well-being.

2022 – Back and Better

In 2022, Keystone Science School bounced back from the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and offered a full slate of programs and activities. With resilience and determination, the school navigated through uncertain times, adapting to new circumstances and ensuring the safety of its staff and participants. Now, as the world began to recover, Keystone Science School stood as a beacon of hope and opportunity, providing students with immersive outdoor experiences, hands-on learning opportunities, and unforgettable adventures. From residential camp programs to day camps, school-year programs, and community events, Keystone Science School continued to inspire curiosity, foster a love for the natural world, and empower future generations of environmental stewards. The return to a full schedule of programming in 2022 reflected the school’s unwavering commitment to its mission and its dedication to providing high-quality educational experiences that shaped the leaders of tomorrow. To this day, Keystone Science School continues to provide programming that enriches the lives of its participants and strengthens their connection to the environment.