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Steamboat Living: 20 Under 40-Chayla Rowley

In her role as a civil engineer with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Routt County, Chayla Rowley, 27, enjoys the variety of her job. But there’s much more to Rowley’s life in the Yampa Valley than her profession.
Tom Ross





In her role as a civil engineer with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Routt County, Chayla Rowley, 27, enjoys the variety of her job. But there’s much more to Rowley’s life in the Yampa Valley than her profession.
Tom Ross

In her role as a civil engineer with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Routt County, Chayla Rowley, 27, enjoys the job’s variety.

“It changes with people’s needs,” she says. “One day I might help a rancher with irrigation and another I might work on stream bank protection.”

Rowley was born in Africa and spent most of her childhood there while her parents were missionaries. After earning her engineering degree from the University of Colorado, she moved to Steamboat three years ago, where she quickly found a strong interest in Steamboat’s young people through a church congregation.



“I emphasize finding a good church community,” she says. “It’s more about how they engage the community than their denomination.” 

Rowley was drawn to United Methodist Church after learning the church needed volunteers to help in its nursery. Today, she shares a supervisory role there, with an uncomplicated approach to young children.



“My motivation is that we don’t necessarily spend time reading religious quotes to infants,” she says. “We need to just be present. They feel loved there, and we make sure we’re interactive.”

Rowley’s work with youngsters doesn’t end there. She met Nancy Mucklow through her membership in the Routt County Agriculture Alliance and with her encouragement is now a fourth grade Girl Scout troop leader. She has stuck with that group of girls as they verge on adolescence and takes pride watching them prepare for adulthood.

“Middle school is prime time for determining if they’ll become confident young women, or deal with things they didn’t learn earlier,” she says.

Her own upbringing (her father is of Choctaw descent) instilled the critical need for reliable sources of potable water for tribal peoples. While studying at the University of Colorado, she was awarded a scholarship from the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation supporting her ambition to create training programs and infrastructure to give tribal people better access to clean water. Ultimately, she believes that’s the direction her career will take.


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