Every year, YVSC recognizes local businesses and community members for their efforts and work toward creating a more sustainable future. This year’s categories are Sustainable Business, Shining Star, Recycler of the Year, Sustainable Government Leader, Environmental Cairn, Partner of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Yampa Valley Connector, Educator of the Year, and Rising Leader.
Sustainable Business – Aspen Tree Service
It is with great pleasure that we present the 2022 Sustainable Business Award to Aspen Tree Service and Lightscapes of Steamboat. The Sustainable Business Award is awarded to those businesses that both define and advance sustainability through their ethos, products and process.
Aspen Tree Service came to the Yampa Valley through a 2021 merger with Steamboat Lightscapes, forming Aspen Tree Service and Lightscapes of Steamboat. The leadership team wanted to introduce itself to the Yampa Valley in a way as green as the spring leaf color of its namesake tree. Aspen, now SaveATree, is a growing team of certified arborists and passionate professionals dedicated to preserving the forest mountain environment that specializes in tree care, plant health, and holiday lighting. It was their work in holiday lighting that led them to YVSC’s Yampa Valley Recycles Depot, as they wanted to ensure that they were properly managing the waste that can be produced by this industry.
Dan Franz of Aspen Tree Service came to YVSC with a passion for sustainability across the waste diversion, energy, and transportation sectors and ideas on how they might start making improvements within their own operations.
The timing of this introduction was perfect, as in early June, YVSC had reached an agreement with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment ‘s Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability to initiate the process to launch our Yampa Valley Green Business Program, as part of the overall Colorado Green Business program.
Aspen Tree Service agreed to join on as our pilot company for the Yampa Valley Green Business Program. We had our first program meeting with Aspen in July of 2022, and we conducted an on-site facility review later that month to identify energy specific opportunities for improvements in their facility. Working with their team was instrumental in our successful launch of the Yampa Valley Green Business program last year.
In the short time they have been involved in the Green Business program, Aspen Tree Service diligently worked on their Colorado Green Business certification plan. They have acquired an EV, appropriately a Nissan Leaf, that they graciously shared at the last City of Steamboat Springs Ride-n-Drive event. They plan to purchase more Leafs and are waiting to receive several Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickups.
The business’s wood chip recycling program is close to keeping 100% of its wood waste out of the landfill. Local residents can set up an appointment to visit the business yard at 2645 Jacob Circle to pick up free wood chips after 9 a.m. on Fridays.
Aspen Tree Service is also working on energy improvements to their Steamboat facility, and they continue to work with YVSC’s Yampa Valley Recycles Depot to sponsor free holiday tree light recycling for the community.
Dan Franz has been given the title of Sustainability Coordinator, and he is perfect for this position. He has a degree in environmental resources from Virginia Tech and a passion for sustainability. Dan leads the business’s main objective in leading the industry forward with the best practices possible to cut down waste in the landfill, recycle and upcycle as much as they can, keep wiring and copper out of the landfill and use 100% LED lighting.
We look forward to our continued relationship with Aspen Tree Service as they work towards their Colorado Green Business Certification.
Shining Star – George O’Brien
This year’s Shining star award goes to George O’Brien. Our Shining Star award is awarded to those individuals who advance sustainability in impactful and unique ways. George’s knowledge and skills in recycling and his desire to help others reduce their impact makes him an excellent candidate for this award.
George O’Brien has been working at the Yampa Valley Recycle Depot since August of 2022. Since George has been working at the Depot, customers are greeted by his large smile as he promptly helps them bring recyclable materials inside or holds the door for them. He has great customer service and makes sure that the customers are welcomed as soon as they walk in the door. George’s attention to detail makes him such a vital component of our recycling program, especially when it comes to keeping materials sorted correctly. He goes above and beyond while at work by taking all of the batteries out of the electronics and sorting them to the correct bins. Customers are extremely grateful when it comes to having someone so committed to helping out others. He is very helpful when it comes to larger items that one person could not otherwise carry themselves. George makes sure that everyone lifts with their knees and helps others maintain correct form and posture.
George’s humor radiates throughout the depot by his witty comments. He is quick to give a standing ovation when asked if you could have a hand. He is a gentleman and treats people with the utmost respect. He has the kindest heart, whether it be donating his own money at the Recycling Depot or making sure his co-workers have enough snacks to make it through the day.
When he’s not at the Recycling Depot, George helps the other people in his household understand the benefits of recycling. He is quick to educate others on the proper ways to recycle and brings his work into his personal life. George is very conscious of the decisions he makes when it comes to his impact on the planet. His goals are to share the information he has learned while working at the Yampa Valley Recycles Depot to all of his closest friends and colleagues to help them reduce their impact as well.
We are honored to have such an intelligent and enthusiastic co-worker working with us at the Recycling Depot. George has had such a positive impact on those around him and is someone we would consider a close and dear friend.
Recycler of the Year – Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation
YVSC is pleased to present the Recycler of the Year award to Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation (SSRC) for leading by example in performing deconstruction of their old gondola building. Deconstruction is a strategy not widely used in the Yampa Valley, but an important one because construction and demolition waste accounts for more than half of the materials going to landfills. It is especially challenging in our remote community to perform deconstruction because of the limited places to take used construction materials and long distances to end markets. Deconstruction typically takes longer than demolition and can add to costs, so it’s admirable that SSRC opted to take this route in spite of a tight timeline and a limited window of time for construction given Yampa Valley’s short building season.
To begin their project, SSRC picked a contractor in part based on their experience with deconstruction. SSRC employees were given the opportunity to take doors, windows, furniture, appliances and one employee even took the old glass garage door from the gondola entrance for reuse. SSRC reached out to community contacts and managed to reuse or recycle 1,400 old metal lockers. They removed all lightbulbs from the building and sent them for proper disposal and recycling. Truckloads of appliances and furniture were taken to Summit County’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore. As a result of SSRC’s efforts, less than 10% of the furniture and appliances from the old building were landfilled. As we all know from dealing with our own stuff, it is much easier to put these materials in the landfill than to take the time to find folks who can use the materials, or even to separate them out for recycling.
The end result of SSRC’s efforts are impressive, especially given that they’re the first to try deconstruction in the Yampa Valley. More than 50% of the loads of demolition debris were recycled or reused, meaning less than 50% was landfilled. This is because SSRC separated their materials at the job site, putting 70 loads of steel in dumpsters for recycling at Axis Steel in Craig, CO and 225 loads of old concrete were transported to the front range to a facility that will use it to make new concrete.
We are excited to present the Recycler of the Year award to SSRC for going above and beyond and setting the example for others in the Yampa Valley to follow. Thank you for leading the way and showing us what can be accomplished when you prioritize recycling and waste diversion in demolition and construction projects. This project is truly an inspiration that paves the path for others in the Yampa Valley region to follow.
Government Leadership in Sustainability – Melissa Dressen, USFS
This year’s Government Leadership in Sustainability award goes to Melissa Dressen, who is the Wildlife Program Leader for Region 2 with U.S. Forest Service. The Government Leadership in Sustainability award recognizes those who go above and beyond their position to advance sustainability and integrated solutions to sustainability challenges. Missy is an inspiring recipient of this year’s award given the ways she continually brings her lifelong passion for conservation and habitat restoration into the service of community building and climate solutions.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Missy obtained her B.S. in Wildlife Biology and MS in Ecology from CSU. Missy has lived in Steamboat Springs since 1998 when she began working as a student trainee for the Forest Service. Missy became a permanent employee of USFS in 2003 and has made immeasurable contributions to our landscapes and communities since.
Missy continuously looks for ways to connect USFS goals and initiatives to organizations and endeavors on the ground in ways that bolster both. In 2020, Missy connected YVSC’s ongoing Yampa River Forest Restoration Program with a USFS grant opportunity to integrate youth into urban reforestation. Since then, YVSC has engaged hundreds of youth in tree planting and stewardship.
Missy has informed numerous public education campaigns that lessen wildlife-human conflicts and protect ecosystems undergoing change or pressure by human activity. In 2021, Missy helped create the Ski Corps-USFS Canada jay re-education campaign for skiers and riders using Steamboat Resorts Morningside lift. Skiers and riders using Morningside had developed a culture of hand feeding the jays their energy bars or other snacks, when jays would otherwise seek out and store mushrooms and dried seeds. “With climate change, they are shifting some of their habits, and we don’t want to interfere with that,” Dressen said. “We want them to nest on time, we want them to have the appropriate foods, and we shouldn’t be interfering.”
Missy’s expertise and ability to connect relevant science to action helped skiers and riders understand that feeding the Canada jays – one of the only bird species that does not migrate in winter – was harmful because the food was not always safe for the birds, didn’t store as well as seeds or fungi (their natural food sources) and had the potential to reduce their success with reproduction. Ski Corps signs and education has led to a successful outcome where riders no longer feed the birds.
Missy looks for relevant ways to advance conservation projects that address and build resilience to climate change. In 2021, Missy convened a group of stakeholders to evaluate wet meadow restoration potential in California Park, recognizing the important role wet meadows have in increasing regional resilience to climate change. Increasing water retention and restoring wet meadows bolster both resilience and carbon sequestration. Her efforts – which were joined by colleagues at USFS – led way to the now scaling wet meadow restoration projects slated for California Park in 2023 and moving forward.
Last, Missy’s buoyancy and ability to problem solve and connect with the community were assets during the region’s efforts to manage for the potential and real impacts of the 2022 Rainbow Family gathering in the sensitive California Park ecosystems. Missy and her team worked hours on end to evaluate how best to manage potential impacts to the sensitive habitat areas, to implement management strategies like road closures, and supported needed post-gathering restoration work.
In addition to this sustainability award, Missy’s extensive coordination with other state and federal agencies, and strong work ethic and professional demeanor, have earned her other recognitions such as the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region Wildlife Biologist of the Year in 2012. The award was given to Missy in recognition of her outstanding initiative, technical expertise, leadership and accomplishments as a wildlife biologist on the Routt National Forest.
In 2022 Missy was promoted from her previous position as South Zone Wildlife Biologist for Medicine-Bow Routt National Forest to her current position as the Rocky Mountain Region Wildlife Program Leader, which spans 11 National Forests and Grasslands in SD, WY, NE, KS, and CO. There is no doubt Missy will continue her legacy of connecting climate, conservation and communities through work at this larger scale, and we at YVSC use this award as a way to communicate to Missy just how impactful and valued her investments in our people and places in the region are and will continue to be.
Environmental Cairn – Integrated Water Management Plan
YVSC is pleased to recognize the Integrated Water Management Plan Committee and Work Groups as recipient of this year’s Environmental Cairn Award. The Environmental Cairn Award recognizes projects or initiatives that help chart a path forward for a sustainable future in the Yampa Valley. The Integrated Water Management Plan is helping to chart a path forward for a balanced and vibrant Yampa River for all.
The Yampa IWMP Committee is a group of volunteers selected by and reporting to the Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable, one of nine regional, grassroots water planning bodies established by the State of Colorado to ensure local communities have a voice in how water will be managed now and in the future. The IWMP committee and work group members represent a diverse range of interest groups including ranching operations, industry, environmental conservation organizations, local, state and federal government, water suppliers, fisheries, and recreation.
The IWMP project sought to identify and spur projects and strategies that benefit water users, the river environment and recreational users. These multi-benefit efforts cannot be accomplished by one entity alone; they require collaboration amongst water users, river adjacent landowners, nonprofit organizations, and local governments. By involving water users at a regional scale, it is easier to identify and fund projects and create collaborative strategies that benefit all user groups.
The final IWMP report includes detailed analysis of the physical and biological conditions of the Yampa River and its major tributaries. It also includes 20 recommendations and work plans for how to address the stressors to the river system and its users. The Basin Roundtable and all the entities involved in the development of the IWMP will work together in the coming years to advance the recommendations and work toward the vision of a river system that maintains balance into the future.
Partner of the Year – City of Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation
The City of Steamboat Springs has been a leader in promoting a healthier riparian corridor along the Yampa River. They were instrumental in initiating the Yampa River Forest Restoration Program (YRFRP) in 2018, and have been a full partner with YVSC in our riparian tree planting projects since then. We are proud to announce that this year’s Partner of the Year award goes to the City of Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Department for their outstanding effort in helping to implement the Yampa River Forest Restoration Program in 2022. This award recognizes those entities or individuals whose collaborative approach leverages the successes of many to build impacts of scale for our broader community.
The Parks and Rec Department, with Jenny Carey, Open Space and Trails Supervisor, as project lead, has helped YVSC achieve numerous goals over the duration of the YRFRP. In 2022, their efforts included project preparation, tree planting, beaver mitigation, and irrigation installment, work that is important for the success of the YRFRP, which seeks to revive a riparian forest along the Yampa River to cool rising water temperatures.
Prior to this year’s ReTree event at Hitchens Island, Parks and Rec crew members put in multiple days of work to prepare for the event that saw 100 community volunteers come together to plant 300 trees. They assisted in carrying loads of fencing supplies, hauling soil and mulch, and drilling the tree holes, all of which made for a smooth and quick event day for our volunteers. Post-project, they also installed irrigation systems and placed tree guards around all 300 cottonwood seedlings to protect them from winter foraging.
To help protect existing cottonwood trees, open space technician Andy Pryor worked with YVSC on numerous beaver mitigation projects with youth from Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and local schools. This led to the protection of over 400 trees, which translates to nearly 4,000 feet of shaded river.
Finally, the Parks and Rec Department joined us to plant trees at a different site along the Yampa in early October, where we completed an entire planting project in a single day. This included planting and mulching 131 cottonwood seedlings, constructing fencing to protect the trees, and installing irrigation.
We are very grateful to have such a wonderful support team like the City of Steamboat Springs’ Parks and Recreation Department to help us implement these projects, and we look forward to working with them in the years to come.
Partner of the Year – Frank Alfone
We are honored to present our Partner of the Year Award to Frank Alfone, General Manager of Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District in recognition of his progressive approach to partner collaborations with water resources in the Yampa Valley. Our Partner of the Year award recognizes those entities and individuals whose collaborative approach leverages the successes of many to build impacts of scale for our broader community.
Frank joined Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District as General Manager in May 2015. Throughout his career, Frank has been the Project Manager for many large-scale, multi-million-dollar capital projects including constructing new water source supply, water treatment plant infrastructure upgrades with state-of-the-art monitoring and equipment automation and sanitation collection and treatment plant improvements. Across all of his efforts, Frank goes out of his way to move forward innovative projects with a collaborative approach that help address local water challenges. He seeks out ways to bolster projects that benefit the entire community.
Frank has been involved in multiple partnered water planning efforts for the community including the Fish Creek Watershed Wildfire Protection Plan which looks before, during, and after a wildfire to protect the critical drinking water supply and infrastructure as well as overall watershed health. Frank was also involved in the 2020 Water Conservation Plan for the District and the City of Steamboat Springs (City). This plan was established to help the District and City prepare for changes to supply and demand, to implement strategies that promote water supply resiliency by preparing for growth, planning for drought and wildfire, planning for a Colorado River Compact Call, implementing water conservation, and developing a redundant supply.
He has also shown leadership by serving on a broad range of water-related boards including the Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable – of which he serves an additional role as the Vice Chair of the Grants Committee. The Roundtable is a grassroots water policy group working to develop locally-driven collaborative solutions to water supply challenges. Frank also serves on the Board and Steering Committee for the Yampa River Fund, established in 2019 as a collaborative community-based organization dedicated to identifying and funding activities that protect the water supply, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities provided to us by the Yampa River. He is a Technical Committee Member on the Upper Yampa River Watershed Group, which works to maintain and improve the chemical, physical and biological health of the upper Yampa River and its tributaries through the creation and implementation of a non-regulatory Plan that informs decision-making and increases local capacity to protect and enhance water quality, promote water conservation, and sustain the health of the Watershed.
Frank is also a Board Member of the Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Council – of which he serves an additional role as Chair of the Council’s Values at Risk Mitigation Committee. The Council works to create resilient fire-adapted communities to minimize potential impacts of wildfire. Lastly, Frank is a Steering Committee Member developing the 2023 Routt County Community Wildfire Protection Plan. This plan’s goal is to guide the future of Routt County’s wildfire preparedness and identify strategies for wildfire resilience and mitigation across our community. Frank’s widespread involvement across these efforts demonstrates his dedication to the Valley at large and his commitment to action that promotes a sustainable and resilient Yampa Valley.
Frank was born and raised in Pennsylvania before moving to Colorado in the late eighties. He’s married with two daughters and a son and enjoys skiing, mountain biking, and playing ice hockey.
We are pleased to present Frank with our Partner of the Year award for his thoughtful approach to partnering and catalyzing impactful water solutions for the Yampa Valley.
Volunteer of the Year – Suzy Sayle
This year’s volunteer of the year award goes to Suzy Sayle, Steamboat resident and sustainability advocate. The Volunteer of the Year award recognizes those individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of service to advance sustainability in the community.
Suzy is deserving of this award because her service in Steamboat Springs and elsewhere throughout her life demonstrates how she approaches service and volunteerism as an integral component of place-making and community-building where she lives.
YVSC proudly recognizes Suzy with this year’s award due to her longstanding commitment to volunteering with YVSC, and specifically to her commitment to supporting our community’s zero waste efforts and successes in 2022. In 2022 alone, Suzy volunteered at our zero waste stations during four farmer’s markets and educated numerous visitors and residents about the benefits and practices of recycling and composting correctly. As she communicated to others, the types of materials that can be composted or recycled successfully varies considerably across geographic locations; Suzy was a friendly and accurate source of information to farmer’s market visitors about what materials can be successfully recycled and composted in the Yampa Valley. Her efforts helped the farmer’s market zero waste stations divert 1,774 lbs. of materials from the landfill in 2022.
In addition to the number of volunteer hours Suzy invests in actions on the ground, Suzy demonstrates what it is to integrate service and voluntarism into a way of living and connecting. She acts as an ambassador of sustainability and continues to find ways to bring her passion for climate action into her various roles and pursuits. For example, as Chair of Yampa Valley Women, Suzy hosted a meeting focused on the Routt County Climate Action Plan and invited YVSC in to provide an overview of the plan and efforts underway to implement it, including the creation of the Routt County Climate Action Plan Collaborative.
Throughout her life, Suzy has taken on community organizing and leadership roles. When she lived and worked in MA, Suzy served for 15 years on the Town of Dover (MA) Planning Board and was instrumental in developing the town’s Environmental Master Plan and initiated a collaborative meeting of all town boards to ensure everyone was aware of the Environmental Master Plan. She also served on the town’s Conservation Commission for 15 years, 12 of those as its Chair. The main focus of this organization was preserving wetlands and open space. She even talked the police department into giving the Conservation Commission members police badges so they could go onto private property to investigate possible violations of environmental regulations, like clear cutting trees! She also volunteered her time with the town’s Open Space Committee.
Suzy’s dedication to the message and the actions that move climate action forward in our community make her a well-deserving recipient of this award. Volunteers, like Suzy, play a pivotal role in not only adding capacity to YVSC’s programs and on-the-ground efforts, but they also put a face to and give a voice to the reasons that we are so passionate about our work.
I am pleased to give this award to Chris Godfrey on Suzy’s behalf while she attends virtually.
Yampa Valley Connector – Jennifer Holloway, Craig Chamber
This year’s Yampa Valley Connector award goes to Jennifer Holloway, Executive Director of the Craig Chamber. The Yampa Valley Connector award recognizes those individuals who bring the Yampa Valley region’s people and places together through their work and legacies.
Jennifer is a proud mother of three and lives in Craig with her husband, Israel Holloway, whose western-themed watercolors capture the hardworking agricultural and western lifestyles of the Yampa Valley people. Jennifer is a Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) alum with an associate of arts degree in political science; holds a BS in Public Management from CSU; and a MS in Leadership and Organizational Communication from Northeastern University.
Through her work and personal manner of making everyone feel valued, Jennifer uses her voice, vision and leadership to bring the Yampa Valley region together through initiatives that advance community, economic vibrance and stewardship. Jennifer regularly serves as an important spokesperson and ambassador for our region, communicating to state leaders and organizations why our region is unique and worth supporting and investing in.
Jennifer was selected for a Boettcher Foundation 2022 Doers & Difference Makers Fellowship, a distinguished appointment that she holds with a cohort of 9 other Boettcher fellows who are dedicated to making positive things happen in their communities and across the state. The fellowship brings together 10 individuals who are dedicated to making positive things happen in their communities and across the state. The focus of the program is to connect with others in the state and learn to share resources and experiences.
In addition to her work with the Craig Chamber, Jennifer is elected to the Yampa-White-Green Roundtable Board, and Moffat County Affiliated Junior College District Board of Control. She is also a member of the Strategic Council for the Denver Museum’s Institute of Science & Policy and was one of the interviewed leaders in the Museum’s recent podcast series describing Moffat County’s energy transition away from coal, called “Coal at Sunset.” Recently, Jennifer was elected to the Board of CNCC where she will strategically guide the college’s next steps. Prior to joining the Chamber as Executive Director, Jennifer served as Director of Student Support at CNCC, where her wide-ranging responsibilities included everything from academic advising and campus safety to career and transfer counseling and advising student government.
We at YVSC are delighted to have Jennifer join our Board, where she will play an important role in connecting Routt and Moffat County through sustainability impacts.
We at YVSC are delighted to have recently had Jennifer join our board, where she is already playing an important role in connecting Routt and Moffat County through sustainability impacts. Jennifer demonstrates strong leadership in the ways that she is able to build strong value and linkages across these communities.
Educator of the Year – Yampatika
We are honored to present our Educator of the Year award to Yampatika. Our Educator of the Year award recognizes those educators in our community who go above and beyond to bring sustainability alive for our community’s students.
Yampatika is a leading nonprofit organization in providing a continuum of environmental education opportunities to youth and adults across Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco, and Jackson counties with programs spanning water, natural history, environmental literacy, and more.
Yampatika is guided by the mission to inspire environmental stewardship through education. Over the past 30 years, they have accomplished this through their in-school programming, naturalist tours, camp programs, and special events. During the 2021-2022 school year alone, Yampatika had a total of 6,805 student attendees and reached 2,579 unique students with 60 different programs across the four-county area, which is more than 37% of the entire student population of these counties. These programs included in-depth water programs for high school students involving local field trips, expert speakers on water issues, and career exploration; multi-session investigations into land-use planning, community wildfire resilience, water cycle modeling, and water quality sampling for middle schoolers; and a three-part Environmental Literacy Program available for every student PreK-5th grade.
Over the past year, Yampatika has continued to grow through expanded partnerships with the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District to execute the inaugural Yampa Youth Water Festival for all 5th grade students across Routt and Moffat Counties; Rocky Mountain Youth Corps to expand curriculum for the Yampa Valley Science School; and with YVSC’s waste diversion education, new Earth Day event, and Yampatika’s annual Fall Festival. Additionally, the organization has expanded their Yampa White Green Basin Roundtable-funded Water Education programming through increased partnerships with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation, Trout Unlimited, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Mt Werner Water, the City of Steamboat Springs, Friends of the Yampa, Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, private ranch owners, and more.
Over summer of 2022, Yampatika had 179 unique campers with 1,595 total camper days, that is one day that an individual attended camp. The organization has increased their reach through camps by 50% by offering camp each week for 9-11-year-olds, increasing staff capacity, and by maintaining and growing partnerships to offer their kids hands-on experiential learning opportunities.
Across their 2021/22 winter season, Yampatika’s adult programming served 646 people through their naturalist tours, while their summer 2022 season saw upwards of 8400 individuals through their tours and programs. This winter, the organization met with more than 300 of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation’s employees to discuss ecology relevant to the resort.
The organization looks forward to continued growth across their programming with Blues Break Camp on the horizon, summer staffing opportunities, and ongoing adult winter program and in-school programming.
Rising Leader – Margaux Shea
We are pleased to announce Margaux Shea as a recipient of the Rising Leader Award. The Rising Leader Award recognizes young members of the Yampa Valley community who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to local climate action and sustainability initiatives. Margaux is being recognized for her outstanding leadership and dedication to serving as a voice for local youth on climate action.
Margaux Shea is 17 years old and a senior at Steamboat Springs High School (SSHS) where she serves as Co-President of the SSHS Eco Club. In this role, she helps the club lead community initiatives that advance climate action in the community. Some of her highlights from her involvement with the club include organizing a community tree planting event to symbolically offset the school’s paper usage and starting a Homecoming clothing swap to reduce the consumption of fast fashion. The Eco Club is currently working to adopt a highway along Highway 131 in Oak Creek Canyon as a long-term stewardship project. Margaux also helps organize the local chapter of Friday’s for the Future: School Strike on Climate, a global protest that calls attention to climate change and the importance of taking action on a local and global level.
Margaux has served as a Youth Board Member for Yampa Valley Sustainability Council since January of 2020, where she sits on the Advocacy Committee. In this position, she serves as a voice for local youth in YVSC’s decisions related to the public discourse and engagement. During her time on YVSC’s Board she has activated student peers to write letters to City Council officials to advocate in support of critical actions and decisions related to sustainability. Margaux has also taken on a leadership role in educating youth on the Routt County Climate Action Plan and its significance. She has personally participated in and encouraged youth participation in YVSC events, like the Yampa Valley Climate Crew. Margaux will graduate from high school this spring. After graduation she will embark on a service trip to Tanzania for three weeks, working with communities in Zanzibar. She has plans to go to college to study biology and pursue a career in the medical field. Thank you, Margaux, for your service, leadership, and impact on the YVSC Board and in the greater community.
Rising Leader – Thomas Cooper
We are honored to present Thomas Cooper as a recipient of the Rising Leader Award. The Rising Leader Award recognizes young members of the Yampa Valley community who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to local climate action and sustainability initiatives. Thomas is being recognized for his exceptional leadership and dedication to youth climate activism in the community.
Thomas Cooper is 17 years old and a senior at Steamboat Springs High School. He is Co-President for the SSHS Eco Club, where he helps coordinate with a diverse group of students to increase sustainability at the high school and throughout the community. This includes organizing projects and events that empower students and community members to advance local actions that align with sustainability. On Fridays, you can find Thomas outside of the Routt County Court House as a part of the Friday’s for the Future: School Strike on Climate Change. Thomas is one of the organizers for the Steamboat chapter of the global protest that calls attention to climate change.
Thomas has participated in two terms with the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council Internship Program, where he led projects focused on increasing youth engagement with the organization. In this role, he managed the Rising Leaders in Sustainability Initiative, which aims to increase youth participation in climate action through education, events, and other engagement activities. During his time with the program, Thomas produced a 5-year programmatic plan for the Rising Leaders in Sustainability Program, he authored the Next Generation Newsletter, a monthly youth-focused newsletter, and hosted multiple youth focused events including a Yampa Valley Climate Crew event and a climate documentary screening and panel discussion. Thomas is set to graduate from high school this Spring. After graduation he has plans to go to college to pursue a degree in political science. YVSC would like to thank Thomas for his inspiring leadership and dedication to supporting youth engagement in climate action in the community.