Sign up for email updates from BCM!

2019 BCM Honorees

Today, we gather in the name of family and gratitude. Here at BCM, we’d like to say thank you to eight individuals and organizations who feel like family. These honorees went above and beyond for youth in 2019, and we’re thankful for their contribution to our 30th program season.

Click below to read more about each Honoree:

Volunteer of the Year – Ellen Long
Instructor of the Year – Marley Miller
Youth Agency of the Year – Banaadir Math and Science Academy
Corporate Partner of the Year – Thermacell Repellents
Land Management Partner of the Year – Albert Borkowski, GMUG National Forest
Summit for Someone Participant of the Year – Schyler Drain
Board Member of the Year – Paul Thompson
National Council Member of the Year – Robyn Garrison


Volunteer of the Year – Ellen Long

Ellen Long loves the outdoors and Big City Mountaineers. Her enthusiasm for and belief in our programs shined through this year. She worked very diligently to recruit students for one of our youth agency partners to send out three expeditions – for a total of 13 youth on trail! And not only did she recruit students, she went on trail with two expeditions. For her hard work and persistence, we’re delighted to award her Volunteer of the Year.

Instructor of the Year – Marley Miller 

This summer was Marley’s first instructing season with Big City Mountaineers. She took on a full schedule, and we couldn’t be happier with the result. Marley is a professional outdoors person who inspires confidence in her students. Her positive energy creates a learning environment in which her students excel. She adjusted readily to the challenges each course threw at her. And time and time again, her students came out of the field excited about their experiences. For her commitment, adjustability, and excellence in curriculum delivery, we’re delighted to award her Instructor of the Year.

Youth Agency Partner of the Year – Banaadir Math and Science Academy

Banaadir Academy exemplifies what we look for in youth agency partners. A charter school in Minneapolis, Banaadir primarily serves families of African immigrants. The staff involved in coordinating or volunteering on trips were instrumental to the success of this year’s programs. The students from Banaadir likewise impressed us with their willingness to try new things. Their enthusiasm as they developed their outdoor skills was contagious.

This summer’s success means we’ll lead year-round programming with Banaadir students in the future. For deep staff and student investment in our programs, we’re delighted to award them Youth Agency Partner of the Year.

Corporate Partner of the Year – Thermacell Repellents

Thermacell is a partner and leader for Big City Mountaineers. They helped our New England program find its feet in 2016. This year, however, they went above and beyond!

In 2019, Thermacell rallied employees to serve as volunteer leaders in New England. They organized a company-wide fundraiser encouraging employees to hike and bike for BCM, which raised over $25,000! In Minnesota, the company donated their safe, scent-free, and effective Mosquito Repellers to our Boundary Waters Basecamp. To top it off, they added a “Donate to BCM” button on their website.

From employee involvement, to gifts of technical product, to awareness raising, to leadership-level philanthropy, Thermacell does it all. For supporting Big City Mountaineers in every way a corporate partner can, we’re delighted to award them Corporate Partner of the Year.

Land Management Partner of the Year – Albert Borkowski, GMUG National Forest

Albert has been a friend of Big City Mountaineers for many years now. He came to our rescue this year when the deep snows in Colorado had yet to melt in June. Usually, programs like ours plan months in advance to send organized groups onto public lands. But Albert stepped in to help with weeks to spare.

In collaboration with his Forest Service colleagues, Albert helped us amend our permits and make sure those courses ran on time.  For his assistance – and for his continued voice of support for the programs we run – we’re delighted to award him Land Management Partner of the Year.

Summit for Someone Participant of the Year – Schyler Drain

Schyler Drain is a multi-year participant of the Summit for Someone adventure fundraising program. In 2019, he took on not one, but two SFS challenges: Mt. Rainier and the Appalachian Photography workshop. He also recruited a friend to join him on the Rainier climb.

All told, Schyler raised $4500 to support Big City Mountaineers’s wilderness programs for youth. For his commitment to giving back through Summit for Someone, we’re delighted to award him Summit for Someone Participant of the Year.

Board Member of the Year – Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson joined the Big City Mountaineers National Board of Directors a little over a year ago. Timely, thoughtful, and incredibly engaged, he makes time to chair our Communications and Marketing committee and sit on our Executive committee.

Paul is a joy to work with.  He works hard to hear the details surrounding organizational hurdles, so he can use his extensive experience to help the team problem solve. He has also stewarded our relationship with his organization, Hiebing, whose work on our website helps us shape our presence in the world. For all his help, we’re delighted to award him Board Member of the Year.

National Council Member of the Year – Robyn Garrison

When we need boots on the ground in Seattle, Robyn wears those boots with passion. After finding a gear storage solution, she filled it with mountains of boxes from HQ, so we would have what we needed to outfit Seattle youth. She strengthened our partnership with Boys and Girls Club of Bellevue, leading 3 extra hiking trips to prep youth for their expedition. In fact, she led all the pre-expedition trips in Seattle! For her generosity with her time, we’re delighted to award her National Council Member of the Year.


We hope you’ll join us in thanking our 2019 Honorees!

Wishing you our holiday best,

The 2019 BCM Staff

stay connected!

Sign up for the Big City Mountaineers newsletter to receive program announcements, transformation stories and more!


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Big City Mountaineers, 710 10th St, Golden, CO, 80401, http://www.bigcitymountaineers.org. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact