Steamboat Springs — The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council reserves its first monthly meeting of the New Year for the purpose of recognizing community partners who have given of themselves to help the residents of the region to enjoy a more energy-efficient, less-wasteful lifestyle.
On Wednesday, YVSC honored six individuals and one Northwest Colorado institution.
“These awards have been given since 2010 and are dedicated to the time, energy, and even, entire careers of these heroes who have been the inspiration for our organization and a reminder to us of why we do what we do,” YVSC Executive Director Sarah Jones said.
Among the recipients, who were presented with handsome plaques in the form of cross sections of logs, were Lifetime Achievement recipient and one of the founders of Yampa Valley Recycles Catherine Carson, Yampa Valley Electric Association and forester Carolina Manriquez of the Colorado State Forest Service.
City of Steamboat Springs government program manager Winnie DelliQuadri was honored, as were Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist Billy Atkinson, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. assistant supervisor of base area services Garrett Smith and Yampa Valley Medical Center accountant Ben McGowan.
Yampa Valley Recycles administrator Emily Rogers praised Carson for her unbounded energy and positive attitude.
“You are an inspiration to all of us,” she said.
Carson has been a vocal champion of the “reduce, reuse and recycle” mantra since joining Yampa Valley Recycles in the 1990s. And she never misses a chance to advocate for reusable shopping bags.
DelliQuadri, who plays many roles at the city of Steamboat and has been instrumental in helping the city access grant funds to acquire open space parcels, received the Government Partner Award. Jones praised her for her role in helping Steamboat become recognized as one of two certified STAR communities in Colorado for scoring points in numerous sustainability categories.
Manriquez, a native of Santiago, Chile, was given the Sustainable Educator Award for her work in elevating the sophistication of the Sustainability Council’s ReTree program and serving as the council’s sustainable schools advisor.
“Carolina has stepped in, and since 2011, provided technical knowledge and passion,” Jones said.
Under Manriquez’s influence, ReTree has learned to emphasize the quality of the trees it plants over quantity, Jones said.
In the same vein, Atkinson, who was given the inaugural Partner of the Year Award, was praised for pairing ReTree with his ongoing efforts to improve the riparian environment along the Yampa River.
“Billy is so passionate about rivers and river restoration and has been an incredible partner in the evolution of our project,” Jones said.
Smith was praised for his significant role in pulling off YVSC’s annual recycling drop-off event but also won high praise for his role in establishing 22 permanent recycling containers along Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat.
“Garrett has been involved in Yampa Valley Recycles since he joined the Ski Corp. in 2006 and spearheaded installation of permanent recycling containers in our community,” YVSC program and development director Anne Mudgett said. “Think of the impression that makes on visitors.”
McGowan, an accountant for Yampa Valley Medical Center, went home with the Shining Star Award. He was recognized for championing the Council’s Zero Waste program at community events.
“Ben was our rock star of zero waste,” YVSC’s waste diversion director Cameron Hawkins said.
Yampa Valley Electric Association was praised for its recent efforts to promote renewable energy, including a renewable portfolio that generates 18 percent of the rural electric cooperative’s wholesale power. That portfolio includes the GRID Alternatives Community Solar Array, which offsets electricity bills for income qualified families.
“This year we wanted to recognize YVEA, not only for its partnership with (the council),” Jones said, “but also for their strong community engagement and internal practices in all areas of sustainability.”
“We’ve come a long way in a short term,” YVEA General Manager Diane Johnson said. “I don’t know if we’d have been seen in this light a few years ago.”