Community Ag Alliance: Giving thanks is also about responsibility |

Community Ag Alliance: Giving thanks is also about responsibility

The opportunity to be outdoors is one of the things that makes the Yampa Valley a special place to live. Every day, as I drive from Hayden to the office, I give thanks for the opportunity to work and live in such a beautiful place with all of the great opportunities afforded us to be outside. From hiking to skiing and hunting to biking, being outside and having access to our public lands is truly a blessing. This week, with the opening of ski season we have another reminder of why I give thanks for living in the Yampa Valley.

These opportunities, however, should not be taken for granted or assumed to always be available. The availability of these lands remains possible only because of our willingness to be stewards of the lands we enjoy. The Yampa Valley has some great organizations dedicated to supporting the environment. Some organizations do it through conservation easements like the Yampa Valley Land Trust. The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council promotes sustainability in all its many forms and the Community Ag Alliance works with local ranchers and farmers to promote local agriculture.

At Yampatika, our focus is on quality environmental education presented in a variety of ways. We work in the schools to promote environmental stewardship. We take locals and visitors into nature through summer and winter programs and we offer camps and other opportunities at Legacy Ranch. Last year, thousands of people benefited from Yampatika programs.

There are a variety of ways you can support nature and the environment. You can support Yampatika financially. Colorado Gives Day is coming up on Tuesday, Dec. 5 and is a great opportunity to support Yampatika. You can even go online today and schedule your gift for Dec. 5. You can donate your time by volunteering. At Yampatika, we are looking for volunteers to help support our seasonal programs. You can also donate stuff such as craft and office supplies. If you already give in one of these ways, thank you!

Another important way to support the environment, and specifically our public lands, is to be an advocate. Advocacy takes many forms, from participating in local city council meetings to contacting your federal elected officials. It all first starts with you willing to do something!

We live in a special place where we are given the opportunity to be active participants in the country we live in. One thing I have been reminded of recently is that every vote (and voice) counts. That was made perfectly clear in the recent Hayden School Bond vote, which ended in a tie. Advocating for the environment is also important. Do not abdicate your voice on topics that will impact many generations!

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to you and your family. In addition to giving thanks for what we have, take a moment to commit yourself to doing something to ensure that what we have available today will also be available to the next generation of Yampa Valley residents.

For more information about Yampatika programs and ensuring that we are all environmental stewards, please visit


Joe Haines is executive director of Yampatika.

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