Donna Mae Hoots is a fourth-generation Routt County resident, her grandmother homesteaded next to Sleeping Giant, and the home where she lives with her husband and two daughters is built on the family ranch still worked by her brother, Larry Monger.
But for a short time after college, the fashion merchandising degree-holder was an intern in Los Angeles.
“I thought I wanted to be a city girl,” Hoots says. She hated it. “It was just an internship,” she says. “It was definitely a finite time. I could say I’ve done that.”
All told, she says she’s spent about eight years away from Routt County. The rest of the time, she’s been here. She married Steve Hoots in 1991, and they have two daughters: Mariah, 16, and Mallory, 19. She takes in the outdoors, gives back in multiple ways and always shares Yampa Valley hospitality.
Bridget Ross remembers when she met Hoots in 2001. It was the first day of second grade at Strawberry Park Elementary School for her oldest daughter, and Ross and her family had just moved to Steamboat.
“I was new,” Ross says. “She was kind, warm and welcoming. That was my first impression of the Yampa Valley.”
Each has two daughters of similar ages, Ross says, and they’ve helped each other through the process of being mothers. “She’s an awesome friend,” Ross says.
Last summer, she adds, a group of their friends participated in the Ride the Rockies cycling event. “We laughed and almost cried when we saw some of the passes we had to go over,” Ross says. “She made the whole journey fun.”
When not biking, camping or skiing, Hoots is a real estate agent with Colorado Group Realty and is president of the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors this year.
She also has a bookkeeping company and is involved in property management. She’s on the board of directors for Old Town Hot Springs and has been a leader in 4-H since her daughters got started. Both of her daughters still participate, and they raise about four pigs per year, Hoots says.
“That’s a great organization because it really takes a lot of family and parental involvement,” she says.
Ross says Hoots is a “quiet achiever.”
“I think she’s a combination of all that is wonderful about the residents of the Yampa Valley,” she says. “She brings light to people’s life. She’s a happy person. There’s kind of a sparkle about her.”