Experiential education expert joins CSU Spur team

Denver, Colo. — Kathryn Venzor joins the Colorado State University Spur team today as the Director of Education, bringing more than 17 years of experience in curriculum and program development, environmental conservation, and community engagement.

“I couldn’t ask for a better setting to bring learning to life than the new CSU Spur campus,” said Venzor, who has built a career engaging K-12 audiences and local and statewide communities in conservation science, most recently at the Denver Zoo and the Butterfly Pavilion.

CSU Spur, an open-to-the-public campus focused on experiential learning, is “museum meets science lab” – and a year-round opportunity for learners of all ages to engage with the intersectionality of water, food, and health, and see science in action.

Christie Vilsack has served as a special advisor on education for the CSU Spur project since 2017, and traveled Colorado visiting with formal and informal educators, seeking input on what the future CSU Spur could do to serve educational needs in urban and rural communities across the state.

“Now we’re ready for our first Education director, Kathryn Venzor, to turn that visioning process into an opening day a year from now that welcomes all Colorado students, their teachers, and families to learn about food, water, and health through experiences that connect them directly to people working on the cutting edge of these fields and virtually to other students and professionals engaged with water, animals and food science to create a better, safer future,” Vilsack said.

Plans have been intentional to use CSU Spur as a channel to inspire the next generation, which is why the Education director is such a critical role, said Jocelyn Hittle, assistant vice chancellor of CSU Spur and Special Projects at the CSU System.

“Kathryn brings a wealth of expertise in educational programming at cultural institutions. With the opening of our first facility just over a year away, we are excited to have her working with partners, teachers, schools and educators to launch our K-12 educational programs at Spur,” Hittle said.

In past roles, Venzor has raised awareness for the importance of biodiversity, promoted action toward protecting lands and habitats, worked with community partners in the STEM fields, and engaged students from all backgrounds in the sciences and art. Now, she’ll build a team to bring the CSU Spur campus to life.

CSU Spur will open two of its three buildings in January 2022, and is the educational anchor for the future National Western Center campus in Denver. The campus offers a rare opportunity to bring the offerings of the CSU System’s three higher education institutions – CSU, CSU Pueblo, and CSU Global – to the public through K-12 field trips, families and tourists, as well as community members for formal and informal educational offerings.

“I am so excited to join this team and begin building programs that not only spark ideas and action, but that also bridge our youth and communities throughout Colorado together,” she said. “There will be opportunities for engagement for learners of all ages and from all backgrounds at Spur. And, together, we’ll work toward a better tomorrow.”

Kathryn Venzor Bio

Kathryn Venzor (she/ella) serves as the CSU Spur Director of Education, creating and implementing formal and informal educational programs inspiring youth and the larger community to tackle problems around food, water and health at the new Spur campus. For over 17 years, Kathryn has been working in program development for K-12 and early childhood students and educators, environmental conservation and community engagement.

Kathryn began her professional career developing educational programs and curriculum, and interpretive resources and exhibits in museums and cultural facilities in New York and Philadelphia. Originally from the Southwest, Kathryn moved back to New Mexico where she worked as the Curator of Education at the City of Albuquerque’s four BioPark sites (Zoo, Aquarium, Botanic Garden and recreational area, Tingley Beach), engaging K-12 audiences, and local and statewide communities in conservation science. Kathryn also served on the Board of Directors for the Environmental Education Association of New Mexico, and worked with community partners in the STEM fields on multiple projects to engage students from all backgrounds in the sciences and art.

After moving to Colorado, Kathryn served as the Director of School Programs & Interpretation at Butterfly Pavilion, working to raise awareness for the importance of biodiversity and promote action toward protecting lands and habitats. Most recently, Kathryn was the Guest Engagement Programs Manager at Denver Zoo, developing exhibits and programs connecting the community to wildlife and the zoo’s conservation and research efforts.

Kathryn holds a Masters in Anthropology and Museum Studies from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. She grew up exploring the desert mountains in El Paso, Texas, and that love of nature and exploration continues in Colorado. She enjoys taking in the beauty of colorful Colorado while hiking (or snowshoeing) with her husband, Jeff, and their dog, Yoda.

About CSU Spur In 2022, the CSU System will open CSU Spur, where innovative ideas and unforgettable experiences come to life at the future National Western Center in north Denver. CSU Spur’s three buildings will ignite and fuel new ideas around water, food and health and their impact on our lives and our world. Spur is where learning is open and accessible to all. Where researchers tackle the world’s most pressing problems around water, food and health. Where art and culture challenge and surround you. Where rural and urban, local and global intersect. Learn more at csuspur.org.

By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.