20 Under 40: Mitch Stypinski inspires youth through science, river education
For sixth-grade teacher Mitch Stypinski, his love of science and river ecosystems could not be more obvious because he wears it on his body.
On his left thigh is a large tattoo of his favorite scientist: Albert Einstein. Curving down his left arm is a colorful image of his favorite native fish and threatened species: a Colorado pikeminnow. A tattoo on his lower back depicts his favorite bird: a great blue heron.
That commitment to and love of science also is clear through the abundant energy and many hours he devotes to teaching and inspiring middle school students and teenage recreationalists in Routt County.
“I have found things that fuel me, and I have found ways to share that with young people in the community.” Stypinski said. “It was through exploring my passions that I found what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be.”
The 29-year-old teacher at Sleeping Giant School spent time this summer coaching for the local branch of The Cycle Effect, a nonprofit that inspires girls who identify as Latinx, Black or Indigenous through mountain biking. He also led a youth river camp, which he helped to establish in 2021 for Friends of the Yampa, where he serves as secretary on the nonprofit’s board.
“Giving back is in Mitch’s ethos,” said Steamboat Montessori teacher Cassady Roberts. “Mitch’s ability to engage and connect with his students is truly magical. He brings his background in watershed sciences into his classroom, leading engaging labs and relevant lectures.”
Team teaching partner Jennifer McCannon noted, “He’s fun and funny in the classroom, and the kids really like his energy.”
“He’s always on a quest for knowledge. He loves to learn. He’s really thoughtful in what he’s teaching and loves to make connections with his students and works hard to make connections with staff,” McCannon said.
What: 2022 20 Under 40 Celebration
When: 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 1
Where: Snow Bowl Steamboat, 2090 Snow Bowl Plaza
Growing up in Morrison, Stypinski developed a passion for exploring and learning about remote places around Colorado.
As a Colorado Mountain College-Steamboat student in biology and outdoor education, he discovered a passion for rivers as a recreationist that transformed into an academic interest in the Colorado River basin. He moved to Gunnison to pursue a bachelor’s degree in watershed sustainability at Western Colorado University and is remotely pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership from the school.
He has worked for government agencies and nonprofit organizations as a hydrology technician, fisheries technician, guide for river restoration, naturalist and water education specialist, and course director for the Colorado Outward Bound School.
“My journey follows a path that led to being an educator to inspire young people to find their passions,” he said. “I enjoy helping them explore who they want to be.”
Stypinski has found his calling.
“He puts his whole heart into everything he does. It’s not a common trait to give that much to your community at that age,” McCannon said.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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