During the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s annual awards ceremony Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, Teacher Kristyl Boies, second from left, with Steamboat Springs Middle School eighth-graders, from left, Luke Bedell, Stella Crofts and Kat Kimble show their “The Product of Our Ignorance” educational sculpture that was displayed in the school cafeteria with statistics about waste and recycling.
The 13 winners recognized during the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council annual awards ceremony Wednesday, Jan. 12, were the most ever, and local environmental leaders say it’s an indication of the breadth and collaborative efforts of the environmental work that’s happening in the valley.
At the same time, the award-winners acknowledged, in particular, the wide variety of partnerships that helped move sustainable projects forward last year.
“When we work connected and collaboratively, we do great things,” said Sasha Nelson, a resident of Craig who won the Yampa Valley Connector award. “We are so lucky to have such amazing neighbors in the valley.”
Holly Kirkpatrick, public information and external affairs manager, accepted the Partner of the Year award for the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District.
“Collaboration on all these water issues here in the Yampa Valley is of the upmost importance in addressing these issues and making sure we have a sustainable future,” Kirkpatrick said.
YVSC Executive Director Michelle Stewart called the largest number of recipients for the 2021 awards “an inspiring reminder of how profoundly collaborative sustainability is and how fortunate we are to have such exceptional and committed people, businesses, organizations and initiatives in our community.”
She added that it indicates “a rising tide of interest in taking action together to protect and sustain the Yampa Valley.”
More than 50 people attended the online meeting to celebrate environmental accomplishments, leadership examples and inspiration in the community.
Many attendees expressed congratulations to lifetime achievement winners Geoff and Betsy Blakeslee, and C.J. Mucklow.
The Blakeslees, a married couple, are best known for their previous work for 23 years as stewards of The Nature Conservancy’s Carpenter Ranch east of Hayden. The couple managed the ranch as a place to show how ranching and conservation can work together.
They hosted thousands of visitors through the years, including school students, birders, and water and wildlife managers. They helped restore the ranch buildings and made them into a living museum and classroom.
“Well-deserved, thank you for showing us the way,” Nelson noted of the couple.
Mucklow is best known as the former longtime Colorado State University extension agent in Routt County, author of “A Guide to Rural Living and Small-Scale Agriculture” and as an advocate for preserving valuable views through maintaining agricultural land. He retired in 2021 after a 35-year career with CSU extension, including a regional director role.
“More acres of land in Northwest Colorado have been positively impacted by C.J. and his influence …….