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LOCAL HERO Kateryna Lapina

Shortly after arriving at the University of Colorado in 2011 to pursue research in air quality modeling, outdoor environmentalist and self-professed “Mountain Kat,” Kateryna Lapina (@colorado_mountain_kat), a native of Kharkiv, Ukraine, worked with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to co-found Colorado Ozone Gardens to educate the general public on the effects of ozone pollution in the state.

Ozone-sensitive plants, such as the cutleaf coneflower, develop visible symptoms on their leaves that indicate high levels of ozone are present in the air.

“Ozone is invisible, but by looking at plants, we make this invisible problem visible,” Lapina says. “One of the goals of this project was to encourage Colorado residents to modify their lifestyles in order to mitigate ozone.”

Today, the Berthoud resident is a data scientist working for an online education company, and in her spare time, she’s a Fjallraven brand ambassador. Lapina organizes hikes for the Boulder store and for the Ukrainian community. She’s a member of the all-volunteer group Coloradans for Ukraine who raise money for the defense of their native land.

“The purpose is to build community and support each other during the war in Ukraine, but anyone interested in the outdoors is invited to join us,” she says.

“We’re using the outdoors, and Dance for Ukraine events in Boulder, to build community and exchange great vibes during tough times.” For more information visit:

—Jeff Blumenfeld

Sharing the Outdoors With Fellow Ukrainians and Everyone Else

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