Alumni Recognition Award Winner: Cindy Gay

Boettcher Foundation Press Release

Boettcher Scholar Year: 1978
Hometown: Steamboat Springs
College(s), Degree(s): University of Colorado Boulder, Bachelors Degree, Environmental Conservation; University of Colorado Boulder, Masters, Biology

Cindy Gay is a 2022 recipient of the Boettcher Foundation’s Alumni Recognition Award. Boettcher’s Alumni Recognition Awards program aims to celebrate Boettcher Scholar Alumni who embody the Foundation’s ethos of service, leadership, and giving back to others. The Foundation gives the Outstanding Alumni Award to two individuals each year. Cindy’s leadership in advancing post-secondary science education, promoting teacher professional development, and her commitment to embedding equity and inclusion into the pedagogy and lesson plans she has developed for others has so clearly demonstrated Boettcher’s commitment to giving back, community leadership, and service.

Cindy Gay received the Boettcher Scholarship in 1978 and earned a B.S. cum laude in Biology and Environmental Conservation and Conservation Ecology from the University of Colorado, with a concentration in arctic and alpine vegetation ecology. Her M.A. in Biology, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, focused on photosynthetic measurements of C3 and C4 plants.

Cindy served for 34 years as a National Board-certified science faculty member with several Colorado middle and high schools, most recently at Steamboat Springs High School where she taught AP Biology, General Biology, Human Anatomy & Physiology, and Biology for Emerging Multilingual Learners. She also served as an adjunct biology professor at Colorado Mountain College.

Throughout her teaching career, Cindy has consulted with educational and professional organizations including, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Center for Biomolecular Modeling, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Genetics Science Learning Center and the College Board. She has also served in leadership roles for the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Science Teachers Association and their state affiliates. Cindy is a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Cindy joined BSCS in July 2016. As a Senior Science Educator, she works in the areas of leadership development and teacher professional development, helping to design and lead projects that help teachers enhance their pedagogy and science content. Cindy is currently PI for a NOAA grant, developing a middle school unit that explores the intersection of traditional and scientific ways of knowing in the restoration of Hawaiian fishponds. She is leading the design and implementation of professional development for the new high school biology textbook, BSCS Biology: Understanding for Life.

She lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado where she enjoys hiking, skiing, and biking. She’s happiest spending time with her husband, children Jeffrey and Jamie (2009 Boettcher Scholar), son-in-law Jonathan, and grandson Peter.

How has being a Boettcher Scholar played into what you have done, where you are now, and what you hope to accomplish in the future?

Being a Boettcher Scholar helped me learn about learning – and understand the difference between being a student and a Scholar. It introduced me to a network on incredible mentors and ignited my passion for education. I have worked in education for the past 40 years, primarily as a HS Biology teacher.

Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation?

In 2016 I left the classroom and joined BSCS Science Learning to leave a larger footprint in science education. As a Senior Science Educator, I design and lead professional learning for teachers and education leaders and design instructional materials. I recently co-lead the development of a new HS Biology textbook. My greatest joy is helping teachers transform their teaching practice knowing that they will impact hundreds of their students.

What does community service, leadership, and giving back to others mean for you? What is your advice on how folks can get more involved in their own communities?   

These are the most important activities one can do in their lifetime. It is through service and leadership (and often leadership without a title or position) that one learns, grows, and makes connections. Getting involved in your community can be as simple as listening to neighbors, reading local publications, and asking questions. There is always work to be done and needs unmet.

What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for Boettcher Scholars who will graduate this year?

Stay involved with the Boettcher Foundation and other powerful and forward thinking organizations that you’ve interacted with! These organizations are doing great work with incredible people – so many connections and opportunities to learn! Network and meet people, learn about them and their interests and passions!

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