Department of Agriculture hires Routt County rancher |

Department of Agriculture hires Routt County rancher

The Colorado Department of Agriculture hired two regional assistant commissioners of agriculture, one of whom is Routt County rancher Jo Stanko.

According to a news release, the positions were created in late 2022 to make it more feasible for working farmers and ranchers to get involved with the department. The assistant commissioners will help the department create and build relationships with agricultural communities.

“Agriculture, at its core, is about bringing people together to share our food and culture. Both Jo and George are respected community leaders who care deeply about preserving Colorado’s agricultural heritages while working proactively for the future,” said Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg. “As the first two Regional Assistant Commissioners, Jo and George will lead the way to ensuring there is a direct line of communication between CDA and agricultural communities across the state as we face great challenges but also great opportunities to build resilience, drive profitability and advance stewardship on behalf of Colorado agriculture.”

Stanko was born and raised in Colorado and married into a ranching family in 1966. She was a teacher and learned about ranching and agriculture, so when she retired from teaching, she used her skills to advocate for agriculture at the local, state and national levels. She’s held positions on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the Colorado Agricultural Commission and was the Chairperson of the state committee for the Farm Services Agency.

George Whitten, who resides in the San Luis Valley, was hired alongside Stanko as the first two of four potential regional assistant commissioners. The positions are part time and remote.

When hiring for the position, the department considers the makeup of the Agricultural Commission and seeks greater diversity in representation.

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