20 Under 40: Bethany Karulak-Baker devotes her life to saving the bees
Editor’s note: This story was corrected at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The list of subjects Bethany Karulak-Baker plans to study keeps growing.
Karulak-Baker, 37, wears many hats as a life coach, beekeeper and researcher in the Yampa Valley.
She’s being recognized as a 20 Under 40 award winner for her work boosting honeybee populations and helping young athletes as a sports psychologist.
Karulak-Baker found her way to the Valley after years of hopping around the world. She grew up in Boerne, Texas, and after serving six years in the U.S. Army National Guard, she established Denver as her home base as she spent the winter months as a snowboard bum and the summer months traveling to other countries for a month at a time. As a life coach, she could work from anywhere, connecting to clients over Skype.
“I was able to work on the road, so I did whatever, and any country I went to I would stay for as long as I could so I could meet with the locals and ask questions,” she said. “I studied the language, so I speak a little bit of a lot of different languages.”
Name: Bethany Karulak-Baker
Profession: Owner and beekeeper at Outlaw Apiaries
Education: Bachelor’s in psychology, University of Texas; Master’s and doctorate in sport and performance psychology, University of the Rockies
She was traveling so much that she gave up having a house and started living out of her car. After learning to snowboard at age 27, she started racing snowboard cross for the Aspen Winter Sports Club. She met some Brazilian snowboarders, which in turn landed her a job in Brazil coaching the Olympic snowboard cross team. She bought a one-way ticket, sold her car and moved to South America.
Four years later, feeling burned out and with aching knees, she was figuring out her next move when she met and quickly fell in love with her husband, Perry Baker.
She moved in with him to a ranch near Hayden in 2016. In 2017, they started their own honey company, Outlaw Apiaries. Together, she and her husband care for 500 beehives.
Earlier this year, she started Bee the Future, an organization that aims to educate children and teens about beekeeping and the importance of honeybees. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators, including honeybees and native bees, to reproduce.
“My hopes are to, through the Bee the Futures project, get involved with any school-aged child in Routt County — through their school, through their parents — who expresses a desire to learn more about bees, work with bees or to have bees on their property,” she said.
That includes a 10-frame beehive built into the wall of her home, which allows children who might be afraid or allergic to bees to see them from a safe vantage point.
In the time between managing the business, teaching others about bees and caring for her own kids, Karulak-Baker is wrapping up her doctorate in sport performance psychology. She’s completed her coursework and is now working to complete her dissertation.
In completing that, she’s studying how fear affects performance in youth athletes and determining what contributes to fear. She hopes this project will benefit young athletes participating in school or club sports teams, such as the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
Though 10 years ago Karulak-Baker wanted only to travel and avoid putting down roots, she’s proud of where she’s landed and the roots she’s grown.
“To have my degree almost completed, 100% behind me, and to have a farm and to be able to provide for the children in the community with the nonprofit, Bee the Future — I’m so proud of all of it because it’s just things that I dreamed of, that I never thought would come true,” she said.
But there’s still more to do and more to learn. She’s reading to learn how to raise queen bees, still studying Spanish, and she still wants to master the histories of the exotic chicken breeds in her chicken coop.
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