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 

For our March 3rd Zoom meeting, local author, illustrator, and speaker Mark Ludy shared with us his insights into unleashing our own creative and social capabilities, breaking through years, if not decades, of hesitancy based on fear of what others will think and fear of not being good enough.  Through the course of his presentation, he made several generalizations (each supported by more specific illustrations). 
On Wednesday, March 3rd, at our evening meeting at 5:30, we are excited to welcome Michele Capots, owner of Dragonfly Path LLC. She is a mental wellness speaker, a mindset, along with a motivation and metal wellness coach. She has served as a peer support specialist and mentor for various organizations dedicated to extreme mental illness and addiction. Michele has published articles about her own mental health struggles in the Washington Post magazine, Marie Claire, and the Tribune Review newspapers in an effort to decrease the stigma associated with mental illness. Michele currently lives in Arlington, Virginia and has presented to a number of Rotary groups in the US. Please email info@rotarycluboffortcollins.org for Zoom link. 

Last week, Dr Melba Beals, one of the “Little Rock Nine”, shared her story with RCFC and many others - more than 327 were connected by Zoom for this special presentation.  Some of us are old enough to remember the TV images of the USA 101st Airborne escorting black students into Little Rock Central High School.  Now we know what it was like to be one of those students.  Dr. Beals provided a relaxed, conversational presentation reminding this writer of a family gathering where your most experienced family member was sharing her history.

January 13, nationally-recognized photographer John Fielder and author Jeri Norgren shared stories from their recent book, “Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming of the 14,000 Foot Peaks”.  The book was first proposed by Ms. Norgren following her research into the naming history of Colorado mountains.  After some initial hesitation having to do with availability of appropriate photos, Mr. Fielder became an enthusiastic participant, realizing he could use not only his own photos but also illustrations from the Hayden Surveys of Colorado (which have been digitized and available in the public domain), sketches and oil paintings of some of the mountains by Robert L Wogrin, as well as two more recent photos from Colorado mountain climber Jon Kedrowski.  If you missed or want to repeat the presentation, Click Here.

In a year when substitute teachers are in short supply, Rotary’s own designated hitter, Bob Meroney , “stepped up to the plate” at the very last minute and hit a home run (not many Neanderthal traits in this polymath).  After warning that the presentation is a historical review and may not be suitable for all audiences, Bob took us through the history of American humor from Benjamin Franklin, emphasized the impact of Thomas Nast’s cartoons on evolving American culture and finally, animated cartoons - all the way to “The Simpsons”.  Excerpts from Franklin’s published stories, Nast’s cartoons and videos of early animations kept us “glued” to the Zoom screen (Click Here to watch the video of this presentation.)
For our Rotary Zoom meeting on February 3, Dr. Richard Knight, professor of wildlife conservation at CSU, introduced many of the ways people on both sides of the Red/Blue (urban/rural; conservative/liberal) divide have common interests and needs, then discussed many of the organizations and processes that can help bridge those gaps.
January 6, Rotarian Ed King shared  his personal experience with Head and Neck Cancer, what he has learned about this group of cancers and what he is doing to message others so they can avoid, identify and get proper treatment if necessary. He began his talk by thanking our club members who helped  him get to his treatment at Anschutz in 2014.
What we all needed as the final message of this year was a humorous look at the dreaded 2020 saga - this was provided by former District 5440 Governor and Foothills Rotary Club member, Mike Forney.  Since the full entertainment value of this presentation cannot be captured by this writer in the absence of the hilarious pictures accompanying Mike’s comments, be sure to look at the video of this presentation by Clicking Here.

 
Last week Professor Emeritus Bob Lawrence shared his insights on the recent national election.  Bob, a self-described Democrat, started with a disclaimer regarding his possible speaker bias. The results of the election may be disturbing based on your party affiliation but should be disturbing to all Americans as they reveal the deep polarization currently in our country.  A recent report states that 78% of Republicans believe Biden “stole” the election and many believe in (sometimes absurd) conspiracy theories to support this claim. This level of distrust could be a factor in Biden’s ability to govern.  CLICK HERE to view Dr. Lawrence's presentation.

December 2, local photographer David Mayhew gave us a whirlwind introduction to the practice and art of photographing severe weather.  David started his professional life as a design engineer but an introduction to photography and meteorology at the College of DuPage (near Chicago) led to his current life as a fine-art photographer of weather phenomena.  In his career as a storm chaser, he has witnessed the two widest tornadoes on record at El Reno, Oklahoma, and Hallam, Nebraska.  He has been selected as a judge for the Weather Channel’s annual photography contest.   To view the meeting and presentation CLICK HERE.

Last week, Dr. Steven Schuster, Medical Director of Oncology Research at UC Health, presented a primer on clinical cancer research focusing on targeted therapy including cancer genetics and immunotherapy.  One of the primary goals of cancer therapy research is to eliminate, or at least diminish, the role of traditional chemotherapy.
Last week, FCRC member and self-described polymath Bob Meroney presented, “James Pierson Beckwourth: Black Mountain Man; Gaudy Liar?” (Spoiler alert - much of the content of his “tall tales” may be true).
 
Mountain men of the expanding West (think the lands of the Louisiana Purchase and later beyond) tended to be colorful characters, often with a picturesque appearance and sometimes famous for their storytelling.  After all, they were often alone in sparsely-inhabited places, so who could refute their tales?
 
On July 3, in recognition of the upcoming 4th of July celebration, RCFC member Henry Weisser presented a review of the American Revolution that pointed out many background aspects of the conflict and results of the conflict that put Britain in a much better light than we normally see in our history books. 
 
Last week we were “wowed’ and informed by engineer and NASA ambassador, Jim Paradise, with a talk entitled “Space Exploration: Going Where No Man Has Before”. Jim reported on NASA’s recent achievements – highlighting Mars exploration, contact with an asteroid, as well as recent discoveries about Jupiter and Pluto.  Photos and videos were gorgeous and breathtaking.  We saw findings from the Kepler telescope  and heard expectations from future telescopes. Finally, Jim described future NASA missions.
 
Newer findings about Mars were given the most attention.  Mars' thin and decreasing atmosphere, low gravity and many findings indicate the presence of water in the past.  NASA travels to Mars every 2 years because of the close proximity of our planets at that interval.  First, USA vehicles orbited and took pictures with ever increasing resolution eventually allowing for complete mapping of the planet and providing  safe landing sites.  Mars rovers, starting with Spirit, then Opportunity ( water evidence), next Curiosity (further evidence of water in the past) and Insight (2018) have been able to sample surface and below the surface.  Each Mars rover has had mechanical (e.g., heavier payload and bigger wheels) and technological improvements.  The 2020 rover (Curiosity 2)  will be equipped with a small helicopter.  Moving further out in our solar system, investigation of the asteroid belt has shown that some asteroids have small moons.  Osiris Rex (after a 7 year journey) will mine and deliver back a sample from  an asteroid’s surface!
 
In other recent discoveries, Jupiter has massive constant cyclones at both poles; Pluto has at least five moons; There is a second asteroid belt beyond Pluto and a cloud consisting of thousands of comets.  We recently landed on a comet!  Next was a lesson in perspective - illustrations showing the relative size of the planets, our sun and our galaxy. The Kepler telescope looks at stars in our galaxy, notes minute changes in light from the star and extrapolates the presence of orbiting planets.  So far, 7,589 planets have been identified in our galaxy; many in a zone compatible with the development of life. Given the estimate of 2 trillion galaxies there should be 500 billion planets; in the  “habitable” zone.  Can we be alone?
 
NASA’s expectations for the near future include a return to the moon by 2024, a residence there in 10 years and astronauts on Mars in 15 years.  What an age we live in!
At our meeting June 12, Dr. Stephen Smith, founder and former CEO of Aqua Engineering, outlined for us the background, organization, and goals of the Irrigation Innovation Consortium (IIC).  IIC was founded some 15 months ago as a joint initiative by a collection of private, public, and university organizations to address growing water scarcity in the western US and worldwide, addressing both agricultural and landscaping needs.  Some of the organizations included are the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR), the Irrigation Foundation, Colorado State, Texas A&M, Fresno State, and Kansas State universities. 
Last week our speakers were Kristin Candella, CEO of Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity and Bruce Hendee, project manager, describing a unique “Habitat” project under construction at the SE corner of Taft Hill and Harmony Roads. The introduction was by Mara Johnson, the Philanthropy Director at Habitat.
Mara introduced the two main speakers by way of a clever quiz comparing Rotary and “Habitat”. Kristan described the acquisition of the site by Habitat, it’s transfer to a new management company, Harmony Limited, LLC and the identification of the tasks involved in the initial development of this site. She briefly described Habitat’s multiple roles - homebuilder, mortgage lender and retail store.
Last week we heard a truly amazing personal story (his cancer journey) from Dr Steve Kramer, retired Ft Collins dentist.  Also participating was his wife, Janey, and his Oncologist from Mongolia, Dr Aldar Bourinbayar.  The emphasis on Dr Kramer’s personal search for effective treatment is apparent in the title of his presentation-“Finding an Atom on a Needle in a Haystack”.
 
In February 2014, as he was retiring, Steve began to feel very ill, and was shortly thereafter diagnosed with a primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).  This is a common disease in Mongolia and usually associated with chronic infections of the liver (hepatitis C and B) or cirrhosis. Steve had no identifiable predisposing conditions.
 
He first underwent a 60% resection of his liver. He next had surgery for a brain metastasis.  The response to treatment is monitored by a blood test (alpha fetoprotein) and CT imaging.  In spite of these surgeries and chemotherapy Steve was found to have recurrent extensive disease and was expected to survive no longer than 3-6 months. Future treatment (UC Health Oncology) had little to offer.
 
So, Steve and his supportive family began a search i.e., they “Googled it”.  They found a small published study from Mongolia that showed a remarkable treatment response  to an immunotherapy pill called V5.  Dr Aldar Bourinbayer had been studying this drug as a treatment for chronic viral hepatitis  and noticed that in some patients with Hepatocellular carcinoma and hepatitis the tumors were shrinking. He subsequently targeted this treatment to patients with this cancer (as well as others types) and published the results.
 
Steve travelled to Mongolia to meet Dr Bourinbayar . Steve has been taking this pill daily ever since -he has experienced no side effects and  imaging has showed resolution of tumor and his blood tumor marker has normalized.  His stated goals now are to ski with all his grandchildren (almost there) and get this drug approved by the FDA.  The later has been a frustrating process and  apparently  is a long way off.
 
There were many comments and questions after the talk. Dr Aldar Bourinbayar emphasized that only one in eight liver cancer  patients treated respond like Steve and this is not a panacea for all difficult-to-treat cancers.  Steve is a former member of Foothills Rotary and a talented sculptor and photographer. We are happy to have him with us and expect a followup talk in 5 years!
On May 15, RCFC member Bill West moderated a discussion by the Larimer County Commissioners (John Kefalas, Tom Donnelly, and Steve Johnson) on a number of county government issues. 
 
What is the level of civility in county government? 
Kefalas: He gets great support in his learning curve as the newest member of the Commission.
Donnelly: There is no aisle to cross; they work together to decide on pragmatic choices. 
Johnson: The members don’t have to agree but do respect the diversity & differences of opinion.  Always do what is right. 
 
How are those attitudes filtering down to the departments in county government?
Johnson: The current strategic plan emphasizes collaboration between departments as well as collaboration with the community. 
Donnelly: They are also emphasizing collaboration between counties in both government and work force.  This recognizes that 50% of Fort Collins workers and 75% of Loveland workers leave town to work every day. 
 
What about the recently released property valuations and the computer program used? 
Donnelly: The commissioners hire the department heads and give them budgets, from which the heads do their business.  Valuation is different from tax assessed.  Various tax credits so may provide some relief for those with increased valuations. 
Johnson: The county must have valuations for some 150,000 properties plus equipment; valuations must rely on computer programs that follow State guidelines.  Of taxes collected, 75% goes elsewhere (e.g., the State); county wide, there has been a 17% rise in valuations; revenue is up 12.8% (approximately 6% per year). 
Kefalas: There have been some 5500 protests to date and there is still time to lodge a protest.  For many seniors (55+), there is the possibility of a senior discount.  Although valuations may be up, the actual mil levy applied will be adjusted in November to provide the income needed. 
 
What is the status of the Thornton pipeline issue? 
Kefalas: The issue is in litigation so comments must be limited. 
Johnson: Courts have historically shown deference to local governments. 
Donnelly: The county actively participates in a number of regional bodies. 
Kefalas: There is a current effort to update the master plan for watershed and natural resources and comments may be submitted to the end of May. 
 
What is happening with the money recently approved for a Mental Health Facility? 
Johnson: The $16 – 17 million per year will mostly be used initially to build a debt-free facility between Fort Collins and Loveland to be run by a provider (with a diverse advising group) who is expected to participate in the design.  Initially, some $1 million will be used to address suicide prevention ($400K), substance abuse ($400K), public education ($100K), and small grants ($100K). 
Last week, Roy Otto, Greeley City Manager and Water Board Member spoke to FCRC about Northern Colorado Water Issues.  He reminded us how frequently we interact with water, noting  that water is NOCO’s most important resource and something we must keep in  our region; but also learn to manage collaboratively.
Historically, we had water wars (eg, Ft Collins vs Greeley) which led to our current water law.  The future of water in our region demands collaboration instead.  Current management involves multiple players not always working together-multiple municipal providers, agriculture ditch companies, conservation districts, multiple Poudre River diversions and multiple planned reservoirs( currently in the permitting phase).  Thus far, management and administration of all these players has been like “herding cats”
The mandate for future success is collaboration instead of the “mine, mine” mindset, (competition) and water wars.  The “buy and dry” approach is not acceptable because it removes this essential resource (water) for all time.  An example of past cooperation is the Colorado-Big Thompson Project but the western slope is not likely to share more of it’s water with the fast growing Front Range.
Future pathways to collaboration may (must?) involve shared infrastructure, common legislative and advocacy efforts, education of civilians, regional planning (and authority) as well as good partnerships with Agriculture providing alternatives to “buy and dry”.
Excellent questions from Rotarians added to the discussion.