Lori Jazwick: The Agricultural Alliance - 10 years strong


— The Community Agricultural Alliance was established in 1998 because concerned citizens saw that there was a huge communication gap between the development, tourist, resort, business and agricultural industries. This disconnect was a big concern because all of these industries utilize one another to help promote and create business opportunities. The best example is the classic Steamboat Ski Area promotional poster with two cowboys on horses with skis riding from the famous More Barn in a field of snow that reached the horses' bellies.

The picture is timeless and helped set the stage for the Steamboat resort industry. It made us different than any other resort because of the tie to Routt County's heritage and working landscapes. Thus, the Ag Alliance's motto: "Committed to the Yampa Valley's agriculture heritage through bridging our agriculture, business, community and resort interests."

To accomplish our mission, a unique board of executives and advisors was asked to participate in the nonprofit organization. Every industry was represented - from established ranchers to Realtors, ski resort employees and local business owners. To work together to bridge this gap, all groups needed to be represented and heard. Each member was asked to serve a two-year term as a board member or a one-year term as an adviser. The Ag Alliance probably has one of the biggest Routt County nonprofit boards; there currently are 16 board members, 15 advisers and one extremely overworked - but very talented - executive director. The Ag Alliance felt that it was important that more than one voice from a group be heard, and having that many people and talents also helped to get this nonprofit group off the ground and running.

The Ag Alliance's goal is to "preserve the agricultural heritage of the Yampa Valley by initiating, supporting and encouraging actions, programs and policies that mutually benefit and connect agricultural producers and consumers." The Ag Alliance tries to accomplish this feat by having three major programs, the Land Stewardship Network, the Promotion of Value-added Products and Community Relations.

The Land Stewardship Network was designed to help educate new landowners by introducing them to their next-door neighbors and by providing contacts and resources they would need to help manage their land. Land Stewardship classes were developed to help educate new and old landowners about regulations and management techniques. These informative classes cover everything from water and fence law to identifying noxious weeds and how to control them.

Promotion of Value-added Products helps connect a buyer to the local supplier of foods, crafts and services.

Finally, the Community Relations Program covers everything from the Ag Alliance's involvement in the Cowboy Downhill, to Ranch Rendezvous, to its annual fundraiser, The Cayuse Classic, and the Northwest Colorado Bull Sale (April 18). Visit our Web site at http://communityagalliance.org to see some of other projects and activities.

The Ag Alliance feels that preserving our sense of community is just as important as preserving the working landscapes and makes sure that an agricultural perspective is heard at many local meetings that might have a direct impact on the working landscape. If we don't speak up, who will?

The Ag Alliance always is looking for talented, active people who think outside the box. If you're interested in volunteering, call Executive Director Marsha Daughenbaugh at 879-4370.

The Ag Alliance continues to be the voice of agriculture, but this is only made possible by private donations, a membership drive and grants. We all want to leave this place a little bit better than we found it, and try to preserve as much of the landscape as we can so that future generations may enjoy it just as much as we do. Please mail any donations to: Routt County Community Agricultural Alliance, P.O. BOX 774134, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477.


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