2017 – Disasters, Drama, and Delight


By Steph Bestelmeyer


2017 was quite a year. Our office was burglarized in May and then flooded in September due to a broken pipe. In October, the Public Education Department proposed New Mexico science education standards that omitted key concepts about evolution and climate change. Yet in spite of all the drama, 2017 is shaping up to be Asombro’s best year ever. Working together, our staff, Board of Directors, other volunteers, and donors accomplished so much, including:


  • Delivering hands-on, engaging science education programs for more than 20,000 students.
  • Launching the New Mexico Climate Champions Project for students and teachers throughout the state.
  • Bringing in more than $220,000 of grant money to support science education in our community.
  • Maintaining the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park for visitors of all ages and adding the beautiful Rainkeepers art piece.


Asombro’s staff weathered the year’s drama while maintaining a great attitude and a laser-like focus on our true mission to increase science literacy. I asked Rink, Stephanie, Libby, and Ryan to reflect on some of the highlights of the year, and I added my own. Here are a few of our favorite things from this year, from the lofty and inspiring to the silly and fun.


Overcoming Drama

“Our membership base came to our aid to replace computers after the theft.” Rink

“When our computers were stolen, we received overwhelming support from the community that surpassed our fundraising needs.” Libby

“After both the burglary and the flood, our staff was back to our science education work with teachers and students immediately. We worked extra hours to recover from the drama, but it didn’t hinder our main work one bit.” Steph

“Our strong science education community in New Mexico fought against faulty education standards, leading to the adoption of the much improved NM STEM Ready/Next Generation Science Standards.” Stephanie


Friends and Partners

“I’m grateful for our volunteers, who are so kind and dedicated that I can hardly believe it.” Stephanie

“I’m grateful that I have an avenue to do something I really love because there is a community out there that also thinks it is important.” Ryan

“I’m glad that I have friends that donated to Asombro’s 100 Donations in 100 Days campaign for my birthday.” Rink

“A highlight for me was being able to help other organizations such as La Semilla with their summer camp programs.” Rink

“The staff at the Jornada Experimental Range ranch along with Justin Van Zee, Caly Tellez, Gil Tellez, and Sally Tellez take such great care of the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park, including unlocking and locking gates twice a day, six days a week. They are amazing.” Steph


Science Education Programs

“The NM Climate Champions teacher workshop was the most rewarding experience for me this year, possibly the most rewarding in my career.” Libby

“I love having the opportunity to work with students and teach science in such a fun way.” Stephanie

“I’m grateful that I can interact with students as elementary students and then see them again in middle or high school.” Rink

“All the Jams were fun – from Desert Data Jam to Climate Data Jam to Energy Data Jam to Baby Jam to data jams at teacher workshops. We extended Data Jam into a lot of different contexts and grades this year.” Libby

“I enjoyed traveling around southern New Mexico to do summer reading programs at local libraries.” Rink


Silly, Yet True

“Thanks to a generous volunteer who donated his truck, I’m grateful that, on occasion, I get to drive a big truck again.” Ryan

“We have two office fairies who place office supplies and treats onto staff members’ desks and tame the weeds around our office so we can actually get in the front door. They don’t do it for the thanks, but we are so grateful for them.” Steph