Nancy Kramer: Rance Moon earns Ann Copeland award in inaugural year

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— The inaugural Ann Copeland Emerging Producer Award was given to Rance Moon, of Craig, in mid-May. Moon maintains a small flock of sheep at his ranch north of Craig for market and fiber production and distribution.

Moon started in the National FFA Organization raising lambs for market. In the past couple years, he had ventured into fiber sheep. He now sells yarn made by Cormo sheep.

Like Copeland, Moon has a passion for agriculture and its preservation as part of the rich heritage of the Yampa Valley. Moon and Copeland shared a mutual interest in the fiber market. Moon is quick to note how Copeland was keenly aware of the increasing consumer market for fiber, something he used as a lead for diversifying his production.

The intent of the Ann Cope­land Emerging Producer Award is to recognize an individual who exhibits innovation, good business practices and the entrepreneurial spirit in his or her approach to designing, developing, marketing and distributing a product that originates in Northwest Colorado.

Copeland and her husband ran the Pyramid Llama Ranch near Rio Blanco County. Cope­land died July 9, 2009, after a four-wheeler accident. She helped lead the effort to start the Hay­den Marketplace, where she sold homemade jewelry under the name Annie’s Antics. She also served on the Hayden Cham­ber of Commerce Board of Direc­tors and worked to promote cultural heritage tourism in the area.

Moon will receive editorial and marketing assistance and business planning support through Northwest Colorado Part­ners and its partners.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to network and learn from other small, local business owners through NWCP,” Moon said.

The Northwest Colorado Pro­ducts program, an initiative of the Com­munity Agriculture Alli­ance, continues to increase the number of local producers participating in the program. The inaugural year for the award yielded five nominations. The following producers all attended the May annual meeting and were recognized for their efforts in expanding local production.

■ Julie Spitzley, of Storm Mountain Coffee Roasters, offers custom coffee roasting, JOGO candy, Ski Face coffee-infused skin care products and a patent-pending coffee brewer.

■ Mary Kaye Schoeneman, of Steamboat Stitchery, creates one-of-a-kind aprons, kitchen towels and children’s denim clothing.

■ Erica Olsen and Greg Smith, of Capris Farm, produce goat meat, turkeys and meat rabbits.

■ Sandy Morris, of Rising Sun Ranch Creations, makes all-natural bath and beauty products that use indigenous herbs with natural healing properties.

In recognizing Moon, Ann Copeland’s indelible passion, innovation and community engagement will live on through this young producer. NWCP urges residents to continue to support Moon, the other award nominees and local producers. For more information about the NWCP program, call Nancy Kramer at 970-879-4370 or visit www.nwcproducts.org.

Nancy Kramer is the project coordinator for Northwest Colorado Products.

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