DENVER — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper recognized United Way of Weld County AmeriCorps VISTA Roxanne Bumgardner as one of the recipients of the 2018 Governor’s Service Awards at a ceremony held annually in their honor on Sept. 4.

The awards were presented in recognition and appreciation to individuals, community/civic leaders, nonprofit organizations, SeniorCorps volunteers, and AmeriCorps members that have positively impacted Colorado communities through their service and volunteerism.
Bumgardner, 24, was selected Outstanding AmeriCorps VISTA Member for her year-long service at the Poudre Learning Center. Bumgardner serves as a resource to Poudre Learning Center’s other VISTAs, volunteers, and interns. She helps with grant writing (totaling about $60,000 in grants funding), program development, and volunteer coordination in support of programming that encourages early exposure to science through hands-on activities. She has recruited, engaged, and retained dozens of volunteers for the organization’s Families Investigating Science at Home (FISH) program, summer camps, and a local triathlon.

Bumgardner, a native of West Virginia, said her VISTA experience has been great.
“I feel like I made an impact, especially on the FISH program. It’s gotten to a place of sustainability,” she said.

Bumgardner is the second United Way of Weld County AmeriCorps VISTA in three years to receive the Outstanding VISTA award. Grace Fullmer won the award in 2016, and also did her service at the Poudre Learning Center. “The AmeriCorps VISTA program leaves a lot of room for growth and opportunity, and it’s a really great way to get involved in your community,” Bumgardner said. “I felt more community involvement here than I have ever felt in my entire life. It feels like you’re a part of something.”

Hannah Hostak, AmeriCorps VISTA project coordinator at United Way of Weld County, said when she and the VISTA staff heard that Roxanne had received the Outstanding VISTA Member award out of the hundreds of VISTA members serving around the state of Colorado, they were overwhelmed with joy.

“Not only has Roxanne been a pleasure to work with, she has made a tangible impact on the lives of children in Weld County through her fundraising and STEM programming efforts for the Poudre Learning Center,” Hostak said. “Thanks to Roxanne’s fundraising, low-income youth received scholarships to attend PLC’s summer camps. She has also created program opportunities for youth and their families to learn more about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through the Families Investigating Science at Home (FISH) program. We already knew that Roxanne and all of our VISTAs in service make real meaningful change in our community, but it is so special for us to see her hard work be recognized by the State Commission for National Service and the Office of Governor Hickenlooper. We are so lucky to live in a state that recognizes the value of commitment and service to others.”

Poudre Learning Center Executive Director Ray Tschillard said Bumgardner has done a great job of taking on projects throughout the year. “She’s taken on all our outreach programs and made them sustainable. She’s got record numbers of students and families coming out to the fish events. She’s brought in more diverse groups of families. She brings a lot of expertise,” Tschillard said. “It’s a good example of a person from the east that says, ‘ I want to be in Colorado. I want to be a geologist.’ She’s not going to work in this field, but really has given 100 percent of her efforts to do the job and be very impactful with it.”

Gov. Hickenlooper said the award winners all deserve special thanks. “These volunteers inspire hope. They are making people’s lives better and creating positive change in our communities,” Hickenlooper said. “We owe them a special thanks as they build and support our love of place.”

The Governor’s Service Awards are presented by Serve Colorado, the Governor’s Commission on Community Service. Serve Colorado promotes community service throughout the state to build a culture of citizenship, service, and individual responsibility. Colorado Governors, current and past, recognize the importance of all Coloradans in solving statewide issues, and for the past 20 years have honored volunteers who have made profound change in their communities.