Rocky Mountain Youth Corps recognized

Group is one of three finalists for environmental work

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The El Pomar Foundation recognized Steamboat Springs-based Rocky Mountain Youth Corps on Thursday night for its work on behalf of environmental issues.

The foundation, which contributes about $20 million in grants and programs every year to Colorado nonprofit organizations, named RMYC one of three finalists for its annual Robert V. Menary Award for Environmental Issues.

Though the award was given to the Catamount Institute during El Pomar's annual awards presentation Thursday in Colorado Springs, the recognition was an honor for RMYC, RMYC program director Avrom Feinberg said Friday.

"It was great exposure for us," Feinberg said after returning from the awards ceremony, which was attended by 1,500 people. "It would have been great to win, but the competition was (stiff)."

Gretchen Van De Carr formed RMYC as a city program for teens in the early-90s. RMYC became an independent nonprofit organization in 1998, which allowed it to expand the scope of its programs. Like youth corps' across the country, RMYC provides paid employment for youths with an emphasis on environmental and conservation issues.

RMYC has expanded over the years, and its programs include a Ute Indian Conservation Corps, the Yampa Valley Science School, which is attended annually by hundreds of sixth-graders; a school-based mentor program by which trained mentors work in Routt County middle schools and its conservation corps program, which in the summer employed more than 70 youths in a variety of jobs, including fire-fuels reduction and trail maintenance.

El Pomar named RMYC's Ute program as a finalist for the environmental award last year; this year's nomination recognized the totality of RMYC programs, Feinberg said. A member of El Pomar's nominating committee nominated the youth corps.

According to an El Pomar press release, the environmental award is "for those organizations that have achieved excellence in their efforts to support the preservation of natural surroundings and promote environmental awareness and conservation."

"I do think it's a big deal for us," Feinberg said. "We're really proud of it."

RMYC received $5,000 in nondiscretionary funds for being one of three finalists. The money likely will go toward enhanced training for youth corps mentors and members. Catamount Institute received $15,000 for winning the award.

The El Pomar Foundation handed out 12 awards in a variety of categories Thursday. Thirt-three Colorado nonprofit organizations were finalists in different categories.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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