Speakers / Programs
The Wednesday Noon meeting features a speaker, special presentation or event.  The Evening Group meets at alternative times with changing meeting formats.  The Rotary Club of Fort Collins strives to have the best speakers ranging from community leaders in politics, business, government, education to community service. We cover a diverse range of topics, both highly educational and highly entertaining. We use the RITE formula while selecting speakers. (Relevant, Informative, Timely, and Entertaining) Here are a few of our past programs to give you an idea of the exciting range of presentations.

If you or your group are interested in presenting, please contact us at programs@rotarycluboffortcollins.org 

After overcoming a few technical glitches, Tom Iseman (Director of Water Scarcity and Markets for the Global Freshwater Program of the Nature Conservancy) gave us, by Zoom, an interesting and wide-ranging summary of various nature-based approaches to addressing water scarcity, especially in Africa.  He started with a brief statistical summary of The Nature Conservancy: some 1 million members, 4000 conservationists, 600 scientists working in some 80 countries and territories around the world focusing on both land acquisition and research into improving water availability and land ecosystems.  The overall actions of the Nature Conservancy are focused in three areas: climate; food and water, especially water availability; and land protection, especially terrestrial ecosystems. 
For another in our series of Cornerstone Stories, at our May 17 in-person meeting, Dave Stewart introduced and then interviewed Nick Bettis, the Vice President of Marketing & Sales Operations for Loveland-based Lightning eMotors.  Mr. Bettis started off with a short video that introduced the firm and showed some of the medium-duty trucks and busses that they manufacture based on GM and Ford chassis. The chassis starting off with existing with internal combustion engine and its associated power train and are electrified to become fully zero emission.   
At our noon meeting this past Wednesday, Dr. Susan VandeWoude, since August, 2022, the Dean of CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS), shared with us recent accomplishments and current near-term plans of the college.  CVMBS, one of eight colleges in CSU, consists of four departments across a range of subjects in veterinary and related fields:  Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology; Biomedical Sciences, including Anatomy and Physiology; Environmental & Radiological Health Sciences; and Clinical Sciences.  For each of these departments, she spoke about not only their internal contributions and goals but also their connections to the wider community. 
Last week we enjoyed a special program devoted to the US Peace Corp hosted by Stacy Plemmons. Our club’s involvement was highlighted as former members of the Peace Corp spoke. The timing was right - our friend and Peace Corp influencer, John Roberts, had just passed and Laura Thornes, CSU’s Director of Development, International Programs was present to tell us about CSU’s Peace Corp Tribute Garden.
For our in-person meeting on April 12, Wyoming’s Albany County Sheriff, Aaron Appelhans, gave us an inspiring view of professionalism in the workplace as exemplified by his approach to staffing and policing in his Sheriff’s Department.  In summary, Sheriff Appelhans defines professionalism for the individual as a combination of traits, skills, behaviors, and good judgement expected from an individual well-trained and well-adjusted to their career and adhering to a set of principles and procedures generally accepted in the profession; for an organization, it is a set of hiring, training, and advancement procedures that avoid the effects of unconscious biases, both explicit and implicit.  Simply, professionalism is not the job you do, it is how you do the job. 

Club member Rajiv Mehta, for our in-person meeting on March 29, gave us a firehose-like overview of the mythology, history, and current state of India, the world’s largest democracy.  A native of India, Rajiv came to the US from his home in Mumbai (a city of some 22 million people built largely on a landfill) in 1973 but has made numerous trips back in the years since. 

For our opening meeting for the month of March, Christina Cooper of United Way of Larimer County gave us a fact-filled presentation about early childhood literacy, both in general and in Larimer County, including a summary of the Larimer County United Way’s relatively recent association with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.  The Imagination Library, launched by Dolly Parton in 1995 in honor of her illiterate father, has spread from its East Tennessee start to many sites across the country.  The objective is to provide quality books to children zero to five years old, starting from date of enrollment and continuing each month from ages zero to five.  Although the basic cost of doing this is approximately $30 per child per year, in 2020 Governor Polis signed Senate Bill 20-185 creating the Imagination Library of Colorado with the following objectives: to establish an Imagination Library affiliate in every Colorado county, to enroll 60% of the children in the state in the program, and to provide 50% of the cost of the books (bringing the local cost down to $15 per child per year). 
Last week our very own polymath, Bob Meroney, provided a pictorial journey entitled Gravity Defying Homes and Architectural Oddities. I will try to summarize in words but “you had to be there” to fully enjoy this trip.
The “Gravity Defying” portion started with 2 inflatables - Disney’s massive floating Cinderella castle and the “Flying Cathedral” designed as a replica of the Abbey of St Gail in Switzerland. But helium isn’t required for a building to appear floating as the photo of a mysterious levitating farmhouse in Ukraine exemplified. Another example is the “pod house” in New Rochelle, NY that appears suspended in air as it sits on thin concrete stems. A polish architect has designed an “unstable” upside-down house as a political statement on Poland’s communist party years. Other upside-down structures are variously used as entertainment venues or tourist attractions both in the US and overseas.

For our in-person meeting on March 15, club member Kip Turain moderated a two-way discussion about the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution as viewed from the perspective of Rotary’s 4-Way Test.  Sam Kornfeld, a local attorney with experience in defending 2nd Amendment cases, explained the rights and privileges of gun owners under current federal law.  Club member Bill Timpson, speaking from long-standing experience in conflict mediation and resolution, presented the case for making changes in regulation of gun ownership. 

Last week, Dr Jon Geller (DVM) shared how his organization, The Street Dog Coalition (started in Fort Collins and since copied by 50 US cities) used their experience to provide veterinary care to pets of Ukrainian refugees crossing the border from Ukraine into Romania. Some members may know Dr Geller as the doctor who provided emergency care to their pets in Fort Collins for over 20 years (Please see last weeks’ Rotogear for the rest of his unique CV).

Last week we were inspired by Niko Medved, CSU men’s basketball head coach.
First, those who coach to get the most wins alone will never be satisfied. Better to “grow young men”.
After his arrival, Coach Medved quickly realized that success for CSU basketball required getting back community support. His players and staff effectively connected with our community and last year sold out the last 5 games of the season (something never done here before).  From Coach’s office he could see students lining up 2 hours before games and developing a new “problem” of having to turn away students.
For our September 7 in-person Rotary meeting, long-time Rotarian Mike Sollenberger, along with Lori French, gave us an overview of the DMA Plaza and The Remington high-rise senior-living facility on Remington Street at Olive in downtown Fort Collins.  The DMA (previously the Downtown Marketing Association) is a non-profit organization that includes the DMA Plaza and The Remington under its wing.  Mike, a long-time member of our club, is the President of the Board of the DMA Plaza and Lori is the Executive Director of The Remington. 
Last week our featured speaker was Dr Dominik Stecula, Assistant Professor of Political Science at CSU. His talk was entitled Responsible Digital Citizenship in the Age of Information Disorder. What commonly is referred to as “fake news” is better described by the term Information Disorder. Based on the number of google searches the peak activity for disinformation was in 2015-2016, corresponding with the presidential election cycle. It has declined since. Today, the term “fake news” has become a partisan insult and has been appropriately replaced by terms such as “disinformation”.
Each year, our Rotary Club gives scholarships to a small number of students who are graduating from the Poudre School District and will be attending either Front Range Community College or Colorado State University.  For our in-person noon meeting on August 10th 2022, Robin Steele, Chair of our club’s Scholarship Committee (which includes 12 club members), summarized for us the criteria for selection of the students to be honored, the nature of the scholarships to be awarded, and the process of evaluating the potential recipients.  This was followed by a brief introduction of the scholarship recipients, several of whom attended the meeting. 
Club member (and resident advocate for peaceful relations) Bill Timpson, for our in-person meeting on August 3, presented detailed information about the UN-established University for Peace in Costa Rica and used that information as a base for talking about efforts toward peaceful relations in several other countries around the world as well as with ourselves, friends and colleagues.