Meet The Team
Mike Bienkowski
Program Facilitator (Biologist and High School Coordinator)

Mike came to Durango Nature Studies after teaching for five years at the Salisbury School in Connecticut. During this time, he taught freshman biology, AP Biology, and an Environmental Science elective. While teaching, he spent his summers leading long-distance bicycle tours for high school students with Overland Summers, an outdoor travel company based out of Williamstown, MA. Mike’s passion for exploring the world on two wheels inspired a cross-country bike tour in the Fall of 2016, during which he discovered Durango. The surroundings and community left such an impression on him that he packed up and moved here not long after.

Mike’s deep connection the natural world traces back to summers poking around the tidepools, bays and coastal forests of Maine’s Acadia National Park. As an Environmental Studies major at Colby College (ME) he found inspiration using scientific inquiry to discover the intimate connections and complexity of the natural world. As a teacher, he fell in love with the process of facilitating discovery experiences for students, where learning is driven by curiosity, exploration, and the thrill of conducting science in the field. Shortly after moving to town, Mike discovered an outlet for these passions when he found a flyer in town asking for volunteer naturalists. After a winter session on snowshoes at Havilland Lake, he was hooked, and now he is thrilled to be part of an organization that places experiential learning as a core value. Even more so, he is grateful to be part of a mission with such a wide-reaching and positive impact on the community!

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Cindy Buccowich

Cindy’s passion for working with kids and living/playing/working in the outdoors formed during her college years at UC Santa Barbara. She spent summers as a camp counselor, leading kids on hikes, backpacking trips, pack trips and supervising camp activities at Teton Valley Ranch Camp. Back UCSB, she began bicycle road racing, eventually racing undefeated in her senior year. This led to a career in bicycle road racing and as a contender at the Olympic Trials. However, her road racing career detoured, when mountain bike racing emerged as a sport in the US, Europe and Canada. The combination of bicycle racing on trails in the mountains combined her love of racing and nature, and ultimately led to seven National and World Championship titles in cross-country, downhill and dual slalom, and eventual induction into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. She retired from that career to focus on raising her kids in Durango.

In 2018, Cindy’s youngest child graduated from Durango High School. Both her kids attended Durango schools, and during that time Cindy volunteered in the classrooms and with Durango Nature Studies as a Volunteer Naturalist. She has enjoyed leading school kids on the trails around the Nature Center to discover nature and engage in experiential learning, enriching the mind, body and spirit. Cindy is grateful to interact with the community’s children and to share in Durango Nature Studies’ vision of “inspiring a positive personal relationship with our natural world.…”

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Kiley Smith
Program Facilitator

Exploring the rivers, lakes and wooded hills of the Midwest as a child, Kiley found freedom in nature. Whether it was time at his grandparents farm in the Ozarks as a boy, backpacking and canoe trips with family and scouts as an adolescent, or pedaling singletrack with friends in college; his experiences compounded his curiosity and appreciation for the intricate systems we are all part of.
In college, Kiley studied painting and drawing. His plein air and studio research was a figurative body of work that explored the aesthetic juncture between synthetic infrastructure and natural environments. After school Kiley went on to pursue many diverse roles as an educator. A few years spent teaching at Appalachian State University solidified his desire to live in the mountains, and after a year installing PV panels in Oregon, he moved to Durango in 2011.
Locally, Kiley spent four years as a counselor for a wilderness therapy program, taught art at St. Columba School, and was Program Manager of a school based mentoring program. He is excited to continue serving the community by helping people cultivate their connection to the natural world.
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Stephanie Weber
Executive Director

Stephanie is a Colorado native, and lived in Durango during her teenage years. She moved to Northern California when she was 16. She has lived in Arizona, Washington, DC, and most recently, Virginia. After obtaining her B.S. at UC Davis in managerial economics, she embarked on a career centered mostly on policy and programmatic work with nonprofit organizations. She spent a decade with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, promoting programs and policies nationally to make it safe for people of all ages — particularly children — to navigate their communities by walking or bicycling. Before that she was with BikeWalk Virginia, promoting bicycling and walking throughout Virginia. She has also advocated at the state and federal level for clean energy, scientific research, and higher education.

In Virginia, Stephanie helped coach a youth mountain bike team, taught safe cycling, and enjoyed hiking, camping, and mountain biking throughout Virginia and North Carolina. Now that she’s back in Colorado, she is reacquainting herself with all the great outdoor opportunities our region has to offer.

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