Photo by Tom Ross
Judy Green, of rural Hayden, receives the Leckenby Pioneer Award on Monday night from Jim Stanko, of the Leckenby and Larson Awards Committee associated with the Tread of Pioneers Museum.
Steamboat Springs Judy Green told a packed dinner crowd in the United Methodist Church on Monday night that the work ethic of the generations who came before her on Crags Ranch south of Hayden inspired her to preserve their legacies.
“I married into a ranching family that inspired me to tell their story and how hard they worked. Those people put in fence lines that are still on the ranch after 125 years,” Green said. “We work hard, but they didn’t have hydraulics on their tractors. They didn’t have tractors. We’re tired at the end of the day, but I think they were more tired.”
Green, a member of the board of directors at the Hayden Heritage Center since 1989, received the 2011 Leckenby Pioneer Award from the Tread of Pioneers Museum.
Also honored during the ceremony, which drew 70 people, was the late Bill Meek, the longtime superintendent of the South Routt School District. He received the annual Stanley L. Larson Award for going beyond his professional responsibilities to respond to broader community needs, inspire youths and demonstrate personal integrity.
Meek’s lasting impact
Meek was with the school district from 1961 to 1994 and helped to accomplish the merger of the Oak Creek and Yampa schools.
Throughout the years, he gained the trust of teachers, backing them up in difficult classroom situations and leveling with them on issues of teacher salaries and class sizes.
Master of ceremonies Jim Stanko said Meek was the kind of man who showed up unexpectedly on a South Routt cattle ranch to help brand calves or put up hay. And although his role at the school district always was demanding — sometimes requiring him to play multiple roles as superintendent and principal, wrestling coach or even bus driver — he also found time to volunteer as an emergency medical technician.
“He was a friend to just about anybody in South Routt,” Stanko said. “Very seldom does a man like that come along, but when he does, he has a lasting impact on a community.”
Meek’s competitive nature surfaced when he went fishing, seeking to catch more trout — and bigger trout— than anyone in his party.
“He was Routt County all the way,” said Meek’s widow, Sally Meek. “I never dreamed we would live here for 40 years, and it’s always nice to come back to Routt County. It always will be.”
Bill Meek died earlier this year.
Life on a historic ranch
Green grew up on a wheat farm near Strasbourg and went on to attend Colorado State University, where she earned a degree in biology and a teaching certificate while showing off her rodeo skills by twice qualifying for the College National Finals Rodeo. In the process, she caught the eye of Jerry Green, her future husband. They taught together in the public schools in Grover before moving back to Jerry’s hometown of Hayden to take over the ranch begun by his great-grandfather in 1895.
Stanko described the Green family as a living part of the history of the Routt County ranching community. The Colorado Historical Society recognized Crags Ranch in 1995 as a Centennial Ranch.
She was a founding member of Historic Routt County’s barn preservation program, and she received the preservation award from Historic Routt County in 2001. A longtime member of the Routt County CattleWomen, she was named CattleWoman of the Year in 1999. Judy and Jerry Green were recognized in 2008 for the efforts to preserve Western heritage by the Community Agricultural Alliance.
Stanko said Judy Green has taken a new direction in her community work.
“She’s a go-getter on the Solandt Hospital Board (in Hayden) and working to preserve the history of that building while keeping it an important asset to the community,” he said. “Thanks to Judy Green, a lot of the history of West Routt has been preserved.”
– To reach Tom Ross, call (970) 871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com