Yampatika given 2009 New Pioneer award for work in sustainability | SteamboatToday.com

Yampatika given 2009 New Pioneer award for work in sustainability

Margaret Hair

Accepting the award for Yampatika on Saturday night were, from left, naturalist Karen Vail, board member Sherry Benson and executive director Sonja Macys. Jamie Kingsbury, right, district ranger with the U.S. Forest Service, nominated Yampatika.

— At the end of the day, Yampatika is successful if it has created new environmental stewards.

"Environmental stewardship is just front and center what we do," said Sonja Macys, executive director for Yampatika.

The stewardship project was recognized as the 2009 New Pioneer of the Yampa Valley at a dinner and awards ceremony Saturday night at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. The Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley presents the New Pioneer honor annually to people or organizations that work toward sustainability. Saturday's event included multimedia presentations by New Pioneers nominators, a meal of locally grown food and a silent auction. Yampatika took home a plaque made from reclaimed items.

Yampatika reaches about 20,000 people each year with its educational programming. Efforts include school programs in the field and the classroom; Soup Session lectures on environmental topics; a gardening workshop series; and Ski with a Naturalist and other educational, outdoor tours for adults.

In June, the organization moved into its first dedicated facility, the Yampatika Environmental Learning Center at the city-owned Legacy Ranch. Since opening for invited groups, the Environmental Learning Center has hosted about 600 people on school field trips, service learning projects and collaborations with community groups, Macys said.

Yampatika, founded in 1992, also was nominated as a New Pioneer in 2008. Learn more about the organization at http://www.yampatika.org.

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Also recognized as finalists for the fourth annual New Pioneers awards were Noreen Moore, for her work with the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative; John Weibel, for his work in sustainable farming with Rockin J Cattle; and Angela Ashby, for her work with the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

Noreen Moore

Noreen Moore was honored with a people's choice award at Saturday's event and accepted her award with a note that any task the nominees had accomplished had hundreds of people behind it.

Moore started as the business resource director for the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative in 2003 and has worked on numerous projects to support entrepreneurs in the area.

Those efforts include helping with the beginning stages of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs; the Northwest Colorado Cu­­ltural Heritage Tourism Program; the Location Neutral Business Survey; "Ignite Steam­boat" sessions for tech-focused professionals; and the Routt County Livability Index.

For each project, Moore helped organize the people who would put in the work to get the organization off the ground.

Moore also helped identify a stimulus grant and gathered a group of locals to bring $1 million for beetle-kill mitigation in Routt County. Trent Jones, of More Lumber; CJ Mucklow, of the county's Colorado State University Extension Office; Winnie DelliQuadri, of the city of Steamboat Springs; and people from Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., Routt County government and other groups secured the grant, Moore said.

Moore will leave her position with RCEDC at the end of the year and plans to take some time off, she said. Learn more about RCEDC at http://yampa


John Weibel

John Weibel went full time with his sustainable beef production operation at Rockin J Cattle in 2005 and devotes as many as 16 hours a day to selling the beef produced on a farm in Moffat County's Little Snake River Valley, he said.

Rotational grazing, grass feeding and other methods help the company encourage forage growth and reduce its use of land and petrochemical fertilizers, Weibel said. In a presentation at Saturday's event, Weibel highlighted Rockin J's efforts toward economic, environmental and social sustainability, including with local families for farming and using solar energy for the operation.

Rockin J beef is available at local outlets including Sweet Pea Market, Freshies Restaurant, Bear River Bar & Grill and Healthy Solutions. To learn more about the company, visit http://www.rockinjcattle.com.

Angela Ashby

In the past four years, the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council has grown from an incarnation of a city-led Green Team project to a grass-roots group with hundreds of numbers.

YVSC strives to collaborate with like-minded groups to put together a more powerful program, create awareness of sustainability issues and create programs to address those issues, said Angela Ashby, chairwoman for the nine-member, all-volunteer YVSC board.

"I think it's just important to think about what we have here now and keeping it for future generations," Ashby said.

The Sustainability Council is responsible for introducing the Zero Waste Initiative, a project started last summer to change habits and reduce waste; bringing three Governor's Energy Office programs to Routt County; hosting an annual Sustainability Summit; and hosting occasional "Talking Green" community events to discuss green building and other environmental topics.

"I just try to keep my ear to the ground as to what our community can take advantage of," Ashby said. She credited her nomination as a New Pioneer to her fellow board members and the board members who preceded them. Learn more about YVSC at http://www.yvsc.org.

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