| Dru Falco

Staff Spotlight: Program Relationship Manager Teagan Papke

Our next staff spotlight features Program Relationship Manager, Teagan Papke! Teagan taught as a classroom teacher in the Boulder Valley School District for many years in bilingual and international schools. She changed gears from teaching and went into event planning so that she could pursue her love of travel and adventures in the outdoors including backpacking, biking, and ultra-running. Now, she gets to combine her passions for education, experiences in the outdoors, and organizational planning. As Program Relationship Manager, Teagan fosters positive relationships with partners and helps expand the reach and impact of Cottonwood Institute through strengthening program strategy within the community.

Read our other staff and board profiles here!

Why is environmental education important to you?

My experiences in the outdoors have changed my life. They have empowered me, instilling confidence in my strength and capability. They have provided me with access to breathtaking spaces that ignited my love for the environment and passion for protecting it. They have fostered uplifting relationships and connection to a positive community. I want to pass the gift of adventure in the outdoors to more young adults so they, too, can discover the benefits of connection with nature in pursuit of their endeavors and understand why it’s essential that we work together to take action to create an accessible and sustainable environmental future for everyone.

Do you have a formative memory of when you learned to love the outdoors?

I had the fortune of attending an elementary and middle school that provided outdoor education experiences each year that involved hiking, overnight camping, geological exploration, animal tracking, etc. I didn’t know it then, but those experiences were planting seeds for my love of and appreciation for the outdoors. At the time, I didn’t realize the full impact of the power of those opportunities, but now I see how they were the building blocks of the foundation of the things that make me happiest in life and I am thrilled to play a part in passing that along to other students. 

How do you get outside these days?

I do a lot of trail running these days. I started with half marathons, worked my way into full marathons, and then tried my hand at ultra-running with a 50-mile race. I just completed the Leadville 100 trail run, which required that I invest many diligent hours on the trails to train and prepare my body to be able to travel 100 miles on foot. It’s a humbling, enlightening, and empowering experience. It’s my therapy. With friends, I like to hike, bike, snowboard, camp, backpack, and picnic in parks.

What’s your favorite snack to eat in the woods?

Peanut butter, bananas, sour patch kids, mac and cheese loaded with veggies, peanut m&ms, oatmeal loaded with seeds and dried fruit, Clif bars, and Tailwind electrolyte mix!

If you didn’t work for Cottonwood, what do you think you’d be doing?

Looking for a way to be working at Cottonwood!! I love the work that I do, the people that I do it with, the impact it makes, and the way that it coincides with and supports the things that I love to do most!

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Categories: Staff & Board Spotlights

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