Every year, YVSC recognizes local businesses and community members for their efforts and work toward creating a more sustainable future. While 2020 was a difficult year for all, we at YVSC are inspired by the work of individuals, businesses, and organizations who continued to move forward on sustainability action despite increased hardship. Thank you to this year’s award recipients for your commitment to improving the natural and cultural heritage of the Yampa Valley.
Sustainable Business – Snow Bowl
Snow Bowl is the recipient of the Sustainable Business award in recognition of their commitment to advancing social and environmental action on food waste amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Snow Bowl, Steamboat’s long-standing bowling alley, was recently reopened in 2019 by new owners, Joel and Meryl Meranski, after a large remodel. The upgrade included a new commercial kitchen and a revamped menu that locals have come to love.
However, at the start of the pandemic Snow Bowl found themselves in a situation that many other restaurants were also faced with. Required to close their doors to keep the community safe, Snow Bowl had a large amount of food that would soon go bad. This spurred the idea for “Family Bowl,” an initiative to provide free carry-out meals to service industry employees who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and to community members who could not afford a daily hot meal. Rather than throw away the food that remained in the kitchen, Snow Bowl wanted to utilize these ingredients to provide nourishment to those in need and to engage Routt County in the pursuit of a hunger-free community.
The “Family Bowl”program ran for 77 days, during which they served 21,698 meals. Family Bowl partnered with many local and sustainable food providers including, but not limited to 41North, Hayden Fresh Farms, Moon Hill Dairy, and Sand Hill Cattle. Family Bowl also partnered with Routt County United Way to provide free Thanksgiving meals to the community, and partnered with Steamboat Board of Realtors to provide free Holiday meals. Family Bowl will continue to find opportunities to partner with local organizations dedicated to similar missions while there remains a need in Routt County.
Shining Star – Yampa Valley Community Foundation
Yampa Valley Community Foundation (YVCF) is the recipient of the Shining Star award for their leadership and support of the nonprofit community during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the understanding that sustainability is not a singular outcome or enterprise, but rather a process of valuing and safeguarding the social, economic, cultural and environmental dimensions of a place, it is a pleasure to award YVCF this distinguished honor for their support of all of our community nonprofits throughout the pandemic.
In 2020, YVCF dispersed over $2 million through 51 grants, supporting 38 nonprofit organizations who provide our community with Childcare and Youth Services, PPE, Mental Health support, COVID testing, Emergency assistance, technology upgrades and environmental stewardship.
Beyond this generous amount of financial support and stability YVCF brought to our nonprofit community at a time-scale that was needed, YVCF leadership and staff played a vital support role for nonprofits who were suddenly struck by the strains associated with COVID precautions. Tim Wohlgenant joined YVCF as the new Executive Director during the shutdown and hit the ground running with a team of dedicated and impactful staff. In the months following the initial shutdown, Tim and Helen led the Chamber-tasked Nonprofit Working Group to identify strains, gaps and needs in the nonprofit community so they could advocate for our support. Through this, they and the YVCF team created educational trainings and targeted funding opportunities that helped nonprofits pivot to virtual services, fundraising and remote work environments. They forged new connections between donors and nonprofits through a new Donor Education Series, which featured talks from various nonprofit leaders from the Arts and Culture, Public Health and Environment sectors for a range of interested donors. These kinds of creative and impactful actions YVCF took in 2020 speak to the ways the foundation goes beyond the work day and any scope of required duties to ensure that philanthropy connects people, places and initiatives in ways that scale impact and foster collaboration.
We are all incredibly fortunate to have a community foundation that strives to both build and sustain the Yampa Valley we cherish through its programs, reach and tactical approaches. Thank you to everyone at YVCF for your dedication, creativity and lasting impacts on our work and the kinds of sustainable futures we can continue to create together.
Recycler of the Year – Innovative Regeneration Colorado
Innovative Regeneration Colorado (IRC) is the recipient of our Recycler of the Year award in recognition of the business’s leadership and efforts in increasing organics recycling in the Yampa Valley. IRC is a homegrown zero waste business intent on keeping materials with value from becoming waste. Business partners Mark Berkley and Winn Cowman started operations with a focus on food waste by collecting grocery store produce to feed swine at a local farm.
In July of 2020 IRC, with encouragement from YVSC’s organics recycling task force, launched their Feed for Seed compost program. Residential subscribers of the program collect food waste in sealed buckets to bring to IRC’s drop-site at the Howelsen Rodeo Grounds each week. IRC also serves businesses, including a school, offices, and a café. In 2020, IRC recycled 48.5 tons of food waste and hopes to have their first batch of compost ready for distribution in summer of 2021.
IRC Is driven by the mission of keeping food waste out of landfills and recognizes it as a key climate strategy because landfilling organics generates methane, which is a highly potent greenhouse gas. IRC has exciting plans for the year ahead, including expanding the Feed for Seed program by adding drop-sites in neighborhoods and at local businesses, allowing for greater flexibility in drop-off days and times. IRC is also working on plans to recycle glass, pots from growers, and regenerate soil for local growers.
We are so excited to recognize IRC for their innovative work this year to bring back residential-scale composting in our area.
Sustainable Government Official – Kelly Romero-Heaney
Kelly is the recipient of the Sustainable Government Official award in recognition of her leadership and impact in integrated water management and conservation.
Kelly has endeavored to understand, protect, and enhance the health of the Yampa River Watershed throughout her 19-year career in watershed management, environmental compliance, and water supply planning. As the Water Resources Manager for the City of Steamboat Springs she strives to integrate the diverse water demands of a community that relies on the river for its municipal and recreational needs while supporting the unique ecosystem of a free-flowing river.
Some recent and important local plans that Kelly has been instrumental in leading are the 2020 Water Conservation Plan for the City of Steamboat Springs and Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District and the Fish Creek Watershed Wildfire Protection Plan of 2019.
As a sixth-generation Coloradoan, Kelly’s passion for western rivers stems from her hope to see her state move into a more resilient water future—one that provides for healthy streams amid growing communities.
We are so thrilled to recognize Kelly for her dedication to local water resources and making our community a leader in water management and conservation.
Environmental Cairn – Climate Action Plan Project Management Team
The Climate Action Plan (CAP) and the CAP Project Management Team (PMT) – Scott Cowman, Winnie DelliQuadri, John Bristol and Sarah Jones – are recipients of this year’s Environment Cairn Award. The Environmental Cairn Award honors those projects and initiatives that mark the path forward. As the effects of climate change continue to mount here in the Yampa Valley –increasing temperatures, drought, changing snowpack and wildfires – it is both with gratitude and honor that we bestow this award to the PMT for moving the CAP forward in 2020 at a time when so many other issues required immediate and full attention.
The creation of the CAP began in 2019, when Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law House Bill 1261 that committed the State to a series of greenhouse gas reductions, including a 26% reduction by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050 from 2005 levels. At that time Routt County was partnering with the City of Steamboat Springs and YVSC to update the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory. The new inventory compared data and trends between 2005 (the year data was collected for the former inventory) and 2018 and examined expected levels of GHG’s up to the year 2050. The overall intent was to help inform potential future climate action planning on the part of Routt County, Steamboat Springs, and other local stakeholders.
Recognizing that meeting state goals would require engagement of local government and stakeholders and in light of an updated GHG emissions inventory, the Project Management Team that was assembled to complete the GHG Study moved forward (with support from elected officials) with the development of a Climate Action Plan. Initially, the PMT included Sarah Jones (at that time ED of YVSC but now representing Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.), Alan Lind (City of Steamboat), and Scott Cowman (RC Director of EH). Winnie Delliquadri later replaced Alan as the city representative. This group along with John Bristol from the Steamboat Chamber teamed up to form the PMT for the Climate Action Plan; and also the City EV Readiness Plan and Tourism Adaptation Study.
Despite great odds and challenges, we are looking ahead to the completion of the CAP this spring. We are only at this place for the added hours of work, insights and dedication each of you have put into place and action during the pandemic to keep the CAP moving forward. It is because of you, and your steerage, that we can look ahead to implementing the CAP this year, at a time when so much political will and cross-scalar support for climate action is gaining.
Partner of the Year – Rocky Mountain Youth Corps
Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) is the recipient of our Partner of the Year award for their efforts to promote youth engagement with YVSC’s ReTree program through the COVID-19 pandemic. RMYC has been engaging youth in the outdoors since 1993. Their mission emphasizes not only service to the environment, but also to the community.
YVSC is pleased to have been able to engage Service Learning Crews from RMYC this past summer in stewardship of tree plantings at Rotary Park and the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area. The Service Learning Crew is a youth community service program that provides education and experience in citizenship, volunteerism, community service, and self-development for youth ages 11-13. In this past year, opportunities to be in nature and to continue education and social bonding, were incredibly important. RMYC showed great leadership in continuing their programs to bring young people into the outdoors for service projects in a safe manner.
Each Friday morning between June 12 and August 1, approximately 20 RMYC Service Learning Crew participants and leaders joined YVSC at our planting sites to engage in stewardship and site maintenance activities such as weeding and tree survival counts. Not only was it incredibly heartwarming to be with the Service Learning Crews on site, but it was particularly impactful to see them socializing in nature in safe and fulfilling ways. One young woman left the site and said that she had had the best day of the summer with us. Her statement is both a testament to the struggles our youth are experiencing in these days of remote learning and a reflection on just how important and rewarding it is to get young people involved in conservation.
Volunteer of the Year – Brian Ashley
Brian Ashley is the recipient of Volunteer of the Year award in recognition of his leadership and support with advancing organics recycling in the Yampa Valley. Brian moved from Indiana, to Routt County in 1992. He and his wife own and live in a 115-year-old house in Yampa. He has three boys, two dogs, one cat, and three to four pigs each summer. The pigs are raised by his children for 4H and led him to develop an interest in composting about ten years ago, which has since grown into one of his passions.
He received his bachelor’s degree in High School Math Education from Indiana State University and has worked as a carpenter for 19-years in and around Steamboat. He started with the City of Steamboat Springs in 2012 as a lift operator, and worked his way up to Facilities Manager.
He has had a long-standing interest in environmental issues and has served on the Organics Recycling Task Force since its inception. Brian also serves on the Routt County Climate Action Plan Oversight Committee and is excited to see what good things come from the plan.
We are so pleased to recognize, Brian, for his hard work and continued support of increased organics recycling in the valley.
Volunteer of the Year – Meredith Rose
Meredith is the recipient of the Volunteer of the Year award in recognition of her leadership and support with advancing organics recycling in the Yampa Valley.
Meredith passionately supports local agriculture in Steamboat Springs. She also believes that there is a better use for food waste than sending it to the landfill. These values have driven her to work for the Community Agriculture Alliance as the CAA Market & Program Coordinator. She also serves on the Organics Recycling Task Force and strives to come up with creative solutions to reducing and recycling food waste in the Yampa Valley. Driven by a desire to connect more people to their food, Meredith is a Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Fellow and is part of the Northwest Colorado Food Coalition.
Meredith holds a B.A. in Geography with an emphasis in Community and Environmental Planning from the University of Montana. She has lived in Steamboat for six years, passionately values the community and believes that these collaborative efforts, such as the Organics Recycling Task Force, are what make this town truly special.
We are so excited to recognize Meredith for her work supporting and creating opportunities for further organics recycling in the valley.
Sustainable Community Leader – Community Agriculture Alliance
Community Agriculture Alliance (CAA) is the recipient of the Sustainable Community Leader award in recognition of their commitment to increasing support and connection to our Yampa Valley food producers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
CAA is a local nonprofit whose mission 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. CAA accomplishes this through their many different programs, including their online market, microloans, educational classes, and ranch tours.
In 2020, CAA saw sales through their Market triple from $110,000 in 2019 to $330,00 this past year, and more than 700 new customers joined the CAA Market, which helped provide a direct economic impact for local farmers and ranchers, during a time of need. Five new producers began selling local meat, three local farms joined the CAA Market offering seasonal fresh produce, and seven 4-H and FFA youth listed and sold private treaty animals. The increased activity led CAA to expand in person shopping hours, add part time staff, and now offer contactless pickup and delivery. CAA Market also expanded on-site storage with two additional donated coolers and three freezers.
The biggest challenge for CAA has been remaining flexible and adaptive in the face of rapid growth with reduced special event fundraising. Their next focus is on storage and distribution of local food, specifically freezer storage for local meat. They are working with Leadership Steamboat on cooperative storage options, things like tractor trailer units converted into freezer storage that can be centrally housed for meat storage. Long-term, their goal is to support a resilient, adaptive local food system.
Exceptional Dedication and Commitment – Scott Conner
This year’s recipient of the Exceptional Dedication and Commitment Award is Scott Conner. As many of you might know, Scott Conner has been a valued member of the YVSC Board since 2015 and served as the Board Chair from 2018-2019. In September 2019, Scott transitioned from Board President to Interim ED, to support and stabilize YVSC when Sarah Jones transitioned from her ED position at YVSC to her current position as Sustainability and Community Engagement Director at Ski Corps. Scott served as the Interim ED at YVSC from September 2019 until March 2020.
While Scott has shown commitment and dedication to our community, YVSC and sustainability action throughout the past 6 years, here we would like to mark and honor his dedication and commitment shown to YVSC and our community during his time as Interim ED. Not only is it an incredibly generous and selfless act to agree to transition from the Board of Directors to the Interim ED role, but Scott did a fantastic job during his time of leadership and steerage at YVSC. We continue to find his notes and systems that he put in place at the organization during his six months of service, and we know that staff and members of the community still value him as a colleague, local energy expert, friend and resource.
Few others than Scott Conner could likely step into Sarah Jones’ enormous footsteps and manage to maintain everything she initiated and led during her time as ED at YVSC. Scott stepped into the position with energy and his usual thoughtful and strategic approach. Scott came to the role with a wealth of professional leadership experience, with 22 years of Federal Government service underway before his retirement from the General Services Administration (GSA), Public Buildings Service in 2013. While at GSA, Scott held several leadership positions including, Acting Rocky Mountain Regional Commissioner, Deputy Regional Commissioner, National Chief Greening Officer, Director Denver Federal Center, Director Organizational Resources, and Chief Engineer. He was responsible for the overall operations of the Rocky Mountain Region including 325 people and a portfolio of buildings totaling 16 million square feet of office, laboratory, courthouse and warehouse space across six states. In his role as National Chief Greening Officer, Scott put in place a network of regional Sustainability Professionals to instill best practices within federal buildings across the county. Prior to GSA, Scott worked as a design engineer and construction supervisor for the National Park Service for 8 years with projects located from the White House in Washington DC to Wrangle St. Elias National Park in Alaska. Scott’s passion for sustainability has spanned his entire career and is a foundational personal value, making him the ultimate Interim ED for YVSC.
Scott took it upon himself to utilize the transition period as a time to connect YVSC with community perspective, and identify new areas of opportunity and growth. Scott and YVSC staff initiated a community survey that solicited community perspectives on how YVSC ought to develop and grow our programs. From that, we learned that climate change, energy and water were key issues of concern. Scott also created a Transition Advisory Council to bring community leadership and perspective into the shaping of the ED position and the organization’s growth beyond. All the while, Scott developed friendships with staff and lasting professional connections with our community leaders.
Scott transitioned back to the Board of Directors in May 2020 and stepped off the Board in December 2020. Though he continues to offer support, time and expertise to YVSC, may he always know that the time, effort and tenacity he invested in YVSC and in our community will endure and long be valued.
Sustainable Home of the Year – 311 Pearl St, designed and built by workshopL
Erik Lobeck, Scott Kemp, and Benjamin Schutt of workshopL and owners, Jane and David Blanford are this year’s recipients of the Sustainable Home of the Year for their project at 311 Pearl Street. workshopL is a valued local leader in sustainability and innovation in our design and construction community and has been recognized by YVSC in the past.
workshopL is a design driven firm striving to combine aesthetics, craftsmanship and building performance. They tailor each project to the demands of the site and couple that with the personality of the owners to deliver a unique creative vision rooted in a rigorous and iterative design process.
The urban infill site, .14 acres in size, dictated a compact three level design with a small footprint, laying the groundwork for a simple rectangular form. A positive consequence of the form is an optimized surface to area ratio that minimizes thermal heat transfer to the exterior. The home’s central location makes walking to downtown enjoyable and puts public transportation in close proximity.
The house holds 2000 square feet of living space with an attached 500 square foot garage, inside are 3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms, a mudroom, an office nook, living and kitchen areas. The R-28 wall panels and R-49 roof panels are all triple sealed for maximum airtightness. The Blower Door Test came in at 1.73 ACH including the attached garage, which is well under the required code limit. The windows are cost-effective quad pane Alpen Window units with an average R-Value of 7, doubling the Energy Star threshold. An EPA clean burning STUV Scandinavian wood stove is capable of heating the home, but also adds a cozy factor when desired. Fresh air is handled by an extremely efficient 84% efficient Zehnder ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator) ensuring a steady flow of fresh and filtered air to the occupants. LED lighting fixtures and a high efficiency NTI combo gas boiler supplying radiant floor heat throughout round out the energy efficiency spectrum.