Gretchen Van De Carr, 2020 Hazie Werner Award winner, embodies pioneer’s spirit
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Michelle Petix said her friend and mentor, Gretchen Van De Carr, has followed a path that embodies what the Steamboat Resort’s prestigious Hazie Werner Award is all about.
“Gretchen, to me, is that pioneer spirit because she moved here, and if she saw that there was a need, she rolled up her sleeves and said, ‘How do we get this done?’” said Petix, who serves as executive director of Partners of Routt County and was among those who nominated Van De Carr for the award. “She’s got a lot of honors, but this one means a lot.”
Steamboat Resort presents the Hazie Werner Award annually to a female community member who represents Werner’s legacy through volunteer work, community commitment and support of local organizations. Werner is remembered for her inspirational dedication, gracious and caring philosophy of giving and tireless commitment.
The 2020 recipient is Van De Carr, who founded the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in Steamboat Springs in 1993. The resort also announced that Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and Advocates of Routt County will receive Snowball Community Grants in the amount of $10,000 to each organization.
Van De Carr will be the 32nd winner of the award since its inception in 1989. Previous recipients include Skeeter Werner Walker, Katy Rodolph Wyatt, Eleanor Bliss, Carol Baily, Lucile Bogue, Criss Fetcher, Dorothy Wither, Sureva Towler, Rita Valentine, Geneva Taylor, Carol Schaffer, Gloria Gossard, Jayne Hill, Elaine Gay, Millie Beall, Arianthe Stettner, Wanda Redmond, Margi Briggs-Casson, Margaret ”Poogie” Dawes, Nancy Stahoviak, Carol Booth Fox, Diane Moore, Susan Birch, Christine Painter, Marsha Daughenbaugh, Sarah Floyd, Nancy Kramer, Deb Werner, Jane Howell, Betse Grassby and Jan Fritz.
“The thing is there are so many just crazy awesome women in this town,” Van De Carr said. “I thought, well, maybe when I’m 70 or something — if I keep doing great things or whatever — I might win this award. I didn’t think I would get this award anytime soon, so it means a lot. I mean the Werners are ‘the’ family in this valley.”
Van De Carr, who earned a masters in environmental engineering from the University of New Hampshire, came to Steamboat in 1990. She worked as a preschool teacher, got her commercial driver’s license and drove school buses and started a teen center for the city.
But she always saw a bigger need, and in 1993, she teamed up with the city to create Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, a program dedicated to engaging young people in the outdoors and inspiring them to use their strengths and potential to lead healthy, productive lives.
What: Hazie Werner Awards
When: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20
Where: Haymaker Golf Course, 34855 U.S. Highway 40
Cost: Free and open to the public
Under Van De Carr’s leadership, the Steamboat-based program has flourished with growing numbers and a wider reach that now includes nine rural counties. Rocky Mountain Youth Corps served 500 participants last year.
Youth Corps programs, including Service Learning Crews, Community Youth Corps and Regional Youth Corps, serve youth ages 11 to 18. The organization also offers Conservation Corps for those 18 and older and internships for those between 16 and 30.
Each fall, the Youth Corps hosts the Yampa Valley Science School where sixth-grade students from Routt County take part in a one-week, overnight science camp.
But Van De Carr’s commitment to the community reaches beyond the Youth Corps. She was a founding member of the Routt County Youth Services Coalition, Partners in Routt County, the Community Evaluation Team, Grand Futures Prevention Coalition and the Routt County Family and Adolescence Resource Council. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Chhiring Foundation, Yampa River System Legacy Project, Routt County Youth Services Coalition, Communities That Care Coalition, Routt County Human Resources Coalition and the Northwest Colorado Rural Philanthropy Days Interim Committee.
Van De Carr is a 2005 graduate of El Pomar’s Nonprofit Executive Leadership Program and a 1995 graduate of the Community Resource Center’s Grassroots Leadership Program. In 2009, Van De Carr was recognized by the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation as a Livingston Fellow, and in 2007, she received the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley’s New Pioneers of the Yampa Valley award.
In her free time, Van De Carr volunteers with the Youth Hockey Association, skis, plays in a local band and spends time with her family raising pigs.
“I am so very honored and humbled by this prestigious award, which aligns with the great Hazie Werner,” Van De Carr said. “Thanks to all my friends, family and colleagues who have been by my side for 30 years in the Yampa Valley.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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