Yampa Valley Sustainability Council hands out top awards in virtual format | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa Valley Sustainability Council hands out top awards in virtual format

Michelle Meyer, executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance, stands with her award. (Photo courtesy of Yampa Valley Sustainability Council)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The annual Yampa Valley Sustainability Council awards felt a bit different for Michelle Stewart, the council’s executive director.

What is normally an indoor gathering filled with clapping, hugs and handshakes was a virtual celebration held over Zoom, with award recipients accepting their awards from their houses.

“I think the greatest missing part of the virtual connection is the lack of applause and those genuine in-person connections,” Stewart said. “There’s just so much we benefit from when we gather together to celebrate.”

Wednesday’s virtual celebration was still a success. Stewart said the 50 people in attendance was a larger crowd than previous in-person events, and the awkward silence she expected was filled with acceptance speeches from recipients and supportive words from their associates.

“There was still such a wonderful sense of connection and community,” Stewart said.

The council has hosted the award ceremony since 2011 as a way to recognize environmental stewards in the community and promote sustainability initiatives.

This year, awards were presented to:

  • Snow Bowl, Sustainable Business of the Year
  • The Yampa Valley Community Foundation, “Shining Star”
  • Innovative Regeneration Colorado, Recycler of the Year
  • Kelly Romero Heaney, Steamboat water resources manager, Sustainable Government Official
  • Scott Cowman, Routt County environmental health director, Sarah Jones, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. director of sustainability and community engagement, John Bristol, director of economic development for the Steamboat Springs Chamber, and Winnie DelliQuadri, special projects/intergovernmental services manager for the city of Steamboat Springs, the Environmental Cairn Award
  • Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Partner of the Year
  • Brian Ashley and Meredith Rose, Volunteers of the Year
  • Community Agriculture Alliance, Sustainable Community Leader
  • Scott Conner, president of the council’s board of directors, Exceptional Dedication and Commitment Award
  • 311 Pearl St., Sustainable Home of the Year

Romero-Heaney said receiving the award was an honor, because she appreciates the council’s partnership with the city in achieving sustainable goals.

“Working with Yampa Valley Sustainability Council has been so great,” Romero-Heaney said. “They have done a great job of enabling what’s strong in this community rather than just showing up and trying to fix what’s wrong.

“They really focus on supporting the champions of this community and I think the ceremony really highlighted that,” she added.

Tim Wohlgenant, executive director of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, said his organization really appreciated the award because it tried to step up and support the community throughout COVID-19, providing grants to local nonprofits and support to those struggling.

“I feel like our work and the work of the Sustainability Council is really aligned with a vision of a healthy and sustainable community,” Wohlgenant said. “It was meaningful to me to be recognized by a group in the area that thinks about sustainability all the time and calls on the foundation as an important part of that.”

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