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Jim Clark: Great job, Leadership Steamboat

I’ve had the privilege over the years of working with people who will craft the future. Each of those experiences — from being a Boy Scout leader to working with interns and teaching at Colorado State — had its own rewards … and occasional frustrations. But every time I engaged with young people, I witnessed the exuberance and optimism of youth. And in young adults, I saw the desire to contribute and make a difference.

Leadership Steamboat is a program we conduct through the Chamber and Colorado Mountain College; it is modeled after similar programs chambers of commerce execute around the nation and world. For nine months, a select group of community members spend one day a month learning about the workings and aspects of the community, including business, government, human services, culture and other key areas in Steamboat. The class is required to design and execute a project of its choosing that benefits the town and the area.

The theme of this year’s class, “Catch the Drift,” had this mission: Fostering stewardship locally and statewide by cultivating education within the community and users of the Yampa River, resulting in a well-respected and protected Yampa River. Part of the project is still underway: educational signage along the river locally to encourage respect and efforts to keep the river clean and healthy.



The major event for Catch the Drift was a kickoff to the Yampa River Festival on May 30 in partnership with Friends of the Yampa. I thought I knew a lot about the Yampa River and Western Slope water issues. Boy, was I wrong. We heard from Kent Vertrees, who is active in many river-related companies and boards here in town. Kelly Herney, water resources manager for the city of Steamboat Springs (did you know your tap water is sourced right here in town?) gave me an education on water sources and use. Liz Schnackenberg, from the U.S. Forest Service, and Tildon Jones, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also presented, educating us on why the Yampa is such valuable resource as a wild river and the rare and unique species of fish that inhabit its lower reaches past Craig.

Being somewhat new to this side of the state, I’ve never visited Dinosaur National Monument. That trip is definitely on my list for next spring. I can’t imagine anyone who saw this presentation missing the opportunity to experience the Yampa through Dinosaur. This lightly visited area is a true gem and one that must be preserved.



If you’d like to be part of Catch the Drift, you can purchase a river stewardship kit from the Leadership class, complete with a mesh bag to hold your trash (and trash left behind by others) and a water bottle to help keep plastic off the river during your trips. Proceeds help fund the signage projects the class is undertaking. You can pick one up a Backdoor Sports or on the Catch the Drift web page.

And a hearty congratulations to members of our 2014-15 Leadership Class, who graduated last week. They are: Alexis Wolf, Ashely Hoover, Beth Melton, Helen Brown, Jaime Cowgill, Kate Bauer, Kelly McElfish, Laura Tamucci, Linda Curzon, Maren McCutchan, Sarah Metcalf, Stephany Traylor, Tina Kyprios, Emily Conjura, Adam Alspach, Chad Stewart, Cole Hewitt, Dan Hughes, George M. Eck III, Jason Peasley, Ryan Fleming, Sam Huff, Scott Harrell and Scott Parker.

Keep an eye out for these folks. They are a great group of smart, accomplished and caring individuals who are our continuing and future leaders. If you see them, congratulate them on their commitment and accomplishment to make Steamboat Springs an even better community.

Great job, class of 2014-15.

Jim Clark is the CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.


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