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HOME on the RANGE ly the

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Free Range Kids Portal to the Past What Kids do Now Nurturing the Future Making the Best Better Overcoming Adversity

A u t h e n t i c L i fe

in the

A p r i l / M ay 2017,

W i l d & R e m ot e W e s t volume




w w w. H O M E o n t h e RA N G E LY. c o m

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Table of Contents

Free Range Kids...................................................6 Every Kid on a Horse..........................................8 Happening.......................................................... 14 Nurturing a New Generation....................... 16

about the cover

This month’s cover photo was taken by Janet Miller at Fossil Ridge Farmstead. It shows her daughter, Jade, holding a newborn goat kid. This baby is one of a set of triplets that were the first kids born on the Farmstead. Ray and Janet Miller, and their two youngest children, Drake and Jade, live at Fossil Ridge. Wanting a healthier alternative for her family than store bought milk, Janet invested last year, in ADGA purebred Nubian goats. The benefits of raw, hormone free milk are countless. The milk is sweet and has a high percentage of butterfat, making it perfect for cheese making as well. Nubian goats are very friendly and gentle, and are a perfect fit for first time goat owners. The goal for this family is to be as self-sufficient as possible by raising all of their family’s meat and a large amount of their produce. They enjoy a large garden every year, and a lot of the harvest is canned and / or frozen for use during the winter months. Other animals found roaming on their property are pigs, horses, meat rabbits, heritage breed turkeys, guineas, ducks, and a large flock of very happy hens. What they have in abundance, is made available for sale to the community. Janet is the author of our From the Farmstead column, partners with neighbor Kerissa Taylor of Wovoka Ranch, also one or our regular bloggers, to run 4H’s Horsin’ Around horse club. Above: Janet Miller milks one of her lactating goats. Right: Janet’s daughter Jade poses with one of their horses. Photos courtesy of Miller family.

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4-H: To Make the Best Better...................... 18 Overcoming Adversity.................................... 20

HOME on the RANGE ly

a magazine and blog dedicated to authentic life in the wild and remote west

about the magazine

Home on the Rangely is a magazine and blog dedicated to the culture, events, businesses and history of a certain tiny town situated on the high desert range in the northwest corner of Colorado. We are Rangely’s first monthly magazine & advertising venue created by, for, and about our community, our region, our businesses, and our citizens. We aim to keep our community and visitors informed on life in Northwestern Colorado, feature Northwest Colorado’s most comprehensive community and events calendar, display art & photography by locals, and engaging content about events, businesses, local lore, and history. Please give us grace as we stumble through this first year; we are learning as we go, and I invite you on the journey.... We’d love your contributions, photos, ideas, stories, anything you have to offer! Please correct us, gently, when we’re wrong, and we’ll gladly make corrections and bring to light other perspectives. We want to tell all our stories--the old and the new. Our only aim is to celebrate and honor our humble, yet marvelous, Home on the Owned, edited and published by Elizabeth Robinson Studio Llc., working with a dedicated team of local business owners and community contributors, the magazine aims to be beautiful, original, entertaining, celebratory, and informative. Thanks for Office: 514 East Main St. Rangely joining us! Mail: POB 514, Rangely, CO 81648 Elizabeth Phone / Text: (970) 274-1239 Robinson Email: Wiley Web:

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Tommy Collins first bike, his dad for riding to work

Exhilaration exemplified as a child bursts forth on a wild Shetlands pony during Little Buckaroos Rodeo, 1960s. Photo courtesy of Rangely Outdoor Museum

Kadence Wagner and Rylee Allred show off a great catch. Photo courtesy of Chris Allred

Tommy Collins first bike, shared by his aunt, and used by Emm his dad for riding to work. Photo courtesy of Collins family

Free Range Kids ...

Spring is here, and as is typical for Colorado we are seeing blue skies, warm weather, hail, flowers, snow, weeds, crabapple blossoms and leafed out trees blowing around on days when the wind is gusty and howling. A slew of warm nights have tricked trees into budding out,and morning frosts remind us winter is giving up the ghost reluctantly. But yet, spring persists, marching steadily forward. Daffodils and tulips push through just greening grass, or mud, showing off their bright blooms; garter snakes slither through garden patches waiting to be planted. Farm babies are everywhere- horses, goats, pigs and calves are shown off on Facebook feeds daily as they start new life amidst the alternating warmth and chill. Families stock campers and head to the hills, despite cold nights, anxious to get outdoors. Among all this life bursting forth children rush outdoors like bear cubs from a den, finally free of the

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ins first bike, shared by his aunt, and used by iding to work. Photo courtesy of Collins family

sed by Emma Taylor takes a break from helping with life on the family A girl jumps forward amidst the greening hills at a spring track Fifth generation ranch kids ride double on the Hill Ranch, the oldest family homestead. Photo courtesy of Kerissa Taylor meet. Photo courtesy of Sarah Wagner. family owned and operated ranch in Colorado. Photo: Jen Hill

.. then & Now

by Elizabeth Robinson Wiley

confines of winter and anxious to shake off the routines of school. Even on the chilliest days grubs are unearthed while exploring mountains of dirt, forts built, and cars now share the road with bicycles and off road vehicles heading for the hills. Fishing poles are brought out and tended to, new places discovered, and track meets gather half the town, parents and siblings sit bundled up in the morning and bare armed in the afternoon on almost green grass watching youth run and jump within the discipline of sport. It’s good to be a kid in a rural community. Always has been, and, Lord willing, always will be. We hope you enjoy this issue’s celebration of childhood on the range. And don’t be misled...the adults are having plenty of fun too!

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portal to the Every Kid on a Horse

Junior Saddle Club, Little Buckaroos, and Gymkhanas by Heather Zadra

Since the 1940s, the Rangely Saddle Club had given men and women a way to sharpen their roping skills, families a place to share the day’s news, and the community an event to rally around in the Rangely Days Rodeo. For the children darting through and around the legs of adults at a Saddle Club steak fry, it was only natural that some branch of the Club would evolve for them. Through the 1950s, parent leaders and kids gathered for trail rides downriver or overnight stays up Chase Draw, where even the youngest riders could reach their destination. “All the kids rode at that time,” says longtime Rangely local Patty Powell, whose four children grew up into what would become the Junior Saddle Club. “When my folks (Mossie and Ray Percifield) owned the Ace Hi, kids would ride up to the kitchen window, holler at Mom, tell her they wanted a hamburger and she’d pass it through the window.” Though the Junior Saddle Club wouldn’t exist by that name for years or always be directly affiliated with the adults’ organization, the group planted roots early on to explore the surrounding country, give kids hands-on experience with horses and, above all, have fun. As it evolved, Junior Saddle Club drew anywhere from 25 to 40 children from kindergarten through high school. For ranch kids, it was a natural extension of home life minus all the chores. For town kids, it was a way to ride horses without having to own one. And from the adults’ perspective, it kept everyone out of trouble. Janet Mackay (Steele) joined Junior Saddle Club in late elementary school, when her family moved from Bonanza to their ranch just northeast of Rangely, and stayed involved through early high school. While the Club didn’t see much wintertime activity, tubing parties weren’t uncommon during the snowy months. Even better were those days when Mackay’s parents, Ben and Irma Steele—longtime supporters of both Saddle Club and its junior counterpart—invited Club kids to their 200plus acres of hay fields. “Dad and Ben would get them old car hoods and you’d tie a couple of lariats together,” says Dennis Slaugh, whose father Clyde and stepmother Sonny ran Junior Saddle Club from 1967 to 1977. “You’d tie those to the car hood, kids would jump on and the horse would take off. It was smooth going all around those fields.” Mackay remembers car hoods flying over irrigation ditches, launching children skyward as often as makeshift sleds floated, but whatever the case, as the weather warmed, Mackay and brother Callie would ride the short jaunt across the river to weekly club gatherings at the old rodeo grounds. There, kids, leaders and parents planned summertime gymkhanas, a word that, in English-speaking countries, came to describe riders on horseback competing in timed and speed-based events. Scheduled around regional horse shows, trail rides and a muchanticipated summer sojourn to the Kenney family’s cabin in East Spring Creek, gymkhanas happened many weekends throughout the summer. “It was a learning experience, plus it gave the kids something to do with the parents involved,” says Jacki Kenney, who grew up in Junior Saddle Club with brother Dirk. “I think it helped bond families and give them more time together, more fun activities everyone could do.” Gymkhana events ran the gamut from intense to ridiculous. There was the hangman’s race, where children grabbed a rope and hung,

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As it evolved, Junior Saddle Club drew anywhere from 25 to 40 children from kindergarten through high school. For ranch kids, it was a natural extension of home life minus all the chores. For town kids, it was a way to ride horses without having to own one. And from the adults’ perspective, it kept everyone out of trouble.

he past

Below, from left: Clyde Slaugh, Cally Steele and Jake Thomlinson assist youngsters in a Mutton Busting competition. Photo courtesy of Rangely Outdoor Museum .

suspended, until partners ran horses underneath for the “hangmen” to drop onto. Clothes and boots races had kids racing horses to a pile of garments or kickers, finding a matching set and sprinting their mounts back across the finish line (one year, Clyde Slaugh and parent helper Kenneth Kenney reportedly tied the arms and legs of blouses and jeans together, making for extra confusion and hilarity). Other events like the dollar bill race involved both children and parents. Participants had to walk, trot and run their horses while keeping dollar bills secured between their knees and the horses’ flanks. “Parents didn’t bother us kids, but they’d really go after each other trying to get the other adults to drop their dollars,” says Jacki Kenney. “Most of those folks ended up on the ground before the end of the race.” Many gymkhana contests permitted in Junior Saddle Club days have been nixed in modern-day competitions, though some folks would argue kids were only the stronger for the challenge. In the egg race, contestants balanced a raw egg in their mouths while riding the length of the grounds and back (rarely, Kenney adds, did anyone cross the finish line with egg intact). Another race challenged riders to haul a lariat-laced cowhide—on top of which clung a child determined to hang on tight—to the finish line. Though injuries weren’t standard gymkhana fare, they did happen. During one race, a Shetland pony bucked Casey Kenney off so hard that the impact, Jacki Kenney says, “snapped the top part of his arm in half.” While Casey’s parents took him to the emergency room, the next race proved nearly as risky for Jacki and partner Ty Neiburger. “Ty said, ‘Run down there and act like I’m a barrel. Swing around me and I’ll grab the saddle horn,’” recalls

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The Junior Saddle Club paused during one of its epic overnight rides on August 8, 1969 and “were met with watermelon and cold pop along the way, just the thing to cool us off. Also Evert Jones was there to take pictures and we thank him very much.” according to a Rangely Times article published August 21,1969. To view the original article from the Rangely Times written by a Junior Saddle Club member, please visit our blog at You can read about the original Saddle Club to see where these kids got their sense of adventure and fun loving spirit in our March/April 2017 issue, also online. Photo courtesy of Slaugh family. Club members we could identify above, with much help, include: 1. Callie Steele, 2. Janet Steele, 15. Kurt Steele, 26. Linda Hall, 17. Dirk Kenney, 28. Kenneth Kenney, 29 Jacki Kenney, 30. Terri Coy, 31. Gary Broome, 32. Sonny Slaugh, 33. Clyde Slaugh, 21. Dennis Slaugh, 19. Ronny Rassmusen,13. Mike Rassmusen, 12. Glenda Hall, 10. Kay Nickson, 9. Gillian Nickson, 8. Janalee Nickson, 14. Doug Dembowski, 24. Lori Coy, 23. Kurt Dembowski

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Please let us know of any mistakes, misspellings or inaccuracies as we go about retelling and recording these bits of local history. We appreciate the enormous amount of help we’ve had and invite you to participate!

Kenney. “His arm got tangled up in the reins, but my horse was already running full-speed and didn’t stop at the finish quick enough. We broke the top rail on the arena and Ty went flying over the fence. Neither of us got hurt, but everyone was freaking out since Casey had just gone to the hospital.” Still, parents’ general feeling was that kids could take reasonable risks and benefit from the experience. This was no less true when it came to money. Junior Saddle Club members recall hoarding up a dime per event to place into the fairground’s coffee can to enter a gymkhana race, hoping they’d be crowned champion and claim the collected profits. A natural extension of gymkhanas and the most anticipated event of the summer among small fry was the Little Buckaroo Rodeo, a kids’ circuit rodeo out of Tremonton, Utah. While the event wasn’t directly associated with Junior Saddle Club, it was considered “our rodeo” by most of its members. Shetland ponies and calves comprised its stock, with pint-sized versions of traditional rodeo events and extra fun thrown in the mix. Kids and parents alike competed at broom polo, cow patty tosses, goat-tying and pony-racing, with extra-ornery Shetlands reserved exclusively for adults. Mackay recalls mother Irma Steele’s horse getting hitched backward to a one-seat cart, then watching Steele guide it bum-first through an obstacle course. Clyde Slaugh, Ben Steele and longtime local Buddy Jean Tomlinson acted the part as clowns while mothers

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helped with trophies and score-keeping and the Saddle Club ran concessions. “This community’s always been very supportive of groups and helping the organizations out,” says Mackay. “I remember the local support that came to those events. Everybody came.” Though Junior Saddle Club ranch kids tended to have their own horses, it wasn’t a prerequisite for involvement. Plenty of town kids joined who didn’t Dirk Kenney keeps cool while staying astride a wild Shetlands have tack or a saddle, let alone a horse, so most pony at a Little Buckaroo Rodeo. Photo courtesy of Rangely Outdoor Museum. simply doubled up or shared rides. Some kids were given wild horses broken by folks who had caught them from sagebrush country near Maybell or in Wyoming’s Red Desert. Before government regulations changed how horses could be rounded up and by whom, horse-wrangling was a regular pastime for many Rangely locals, and while it was more lucrative to sell horses than to break them, several children gained rides in this fashion. In June, the annual trail ride to the Kenneys’ property up East Spring Creek brought together all that was good about Junior Saddle Club. Kids rode horses or the backs of pickup trucks up Gillam Draw to the cabin and bunkhouse, where they relished a day or two of swimming, riding, eating and exploring nearby attractions, including a waterfall and socalled “lost cabin.” “We heard stories the cabin was one of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s hideouts, but I don’t know if that was true,” Jacki Kenney says. “It was built on a hillside—you could walk right on top of it and not see it.” Clyde Slaugh says the children of Junior Saddle

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Club were the “best bunch of kids you ever seen” but insists he backed his pickup against the boys’ cabin door at bedtime, passing a bucket through the crack for necessities. Slaugh, Kenney, Kay Nickson, and Bob and Cleo Broom all accompanied trips in those years, usually to the Kenneys’ place but occasionally to the Hefleys’ cabin at West Spring Creek or the Bobcat Ranch on Cathedral Bluff. One year, a rattlesnake on the trail caused a half-hour delay until a chaperone removed it; another time, grownups staged a “snipe hunt,” several of them encouraging kids to search out the elusive prize while others waited among the sagebrush in ambush. On the way home, the caravan honored tradition by stopping for a watermelon break, thereby savoring Clyde Slaugh and Buddy Jean Thomlinson assist Dennis Slaugh (Clyde’s son) as he the journey a few minutes more. As attempts to stay astride a wild Shetlands pony. Photo courtesy of Slaugh family. children recounted the weekend’s exploits and adults anticipated a night asleep in their own beds, a summer’s worth of gatherings still lay before them. While Junior Saddle Club would eventually fade out, 4-H and Little Buckaroos Rodeo taking its place, those who remain keep the memory—and the feeling of those days—close at hand. “Kids knew what they could and couldn’t do,” says Powell. “For the most part, they kept busy, so there wasn’t time to get in trouble. They got along, and there was a close camaraderie they all felt toward each other.”

Clyde Slaugh says the children of Junior Saddle Club were the “best bunch of kids you ever seen” but insists he backed his pickup against the boys’ cabin door at bedtime, passing a bucket through the crack for necessities.

A huge thank you to Janet Mackay, Jacki Kenney, Margaret and Dennis Slaugh, Clyde Slaugh, Judy Raley, Patty Powell, and Beckey Hume for their invaluable help with this article with interviews, providing photos, and identifying people in photos. This history could not be written without the people who lived it!

Ike Slaugh (Clyde’s son) holds on for dear life Riding Bronc on a Shetlands pony while adults (left to right) Bill Buckner, Marty Elder, Roy Steele and Clyde Slaugh observe. Jacki Kenney is the young girl between Roy and Clyde. Photo courtesy of Rangely Outdoor Museum

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the TANK center for Sonic Arts 5/14-6/26, R angely

CNCC Tank Days, Open Saturdays, Sound Circle Concert Dinner, Concert and Aerial Sculptures outside at The TANK followed by “Ring the Bells That Can Still Ring,” Roomful of Teeth Concert Visit for more info!

Fishing Derby 6/3-4, R angely

During Colorado’s Free Fishing Weekend. Campsites are free for the weekend and there are competitions for kids and families to participate including spear fishing, bow fishing, tiniest fish, biggest carp and more! For more information visit

College for Kids J ,R une


Courses in Karate, Kids Outdoor Leadership Series, Beginner Horse classes, Art Camp and Junior Rangers- Dino Dig. Classes may be multiple weeks or one day. For more information contact Angie Miller at 970-675-3227, angela., or online at

Rangely Rec Center

APRIL 24: Swim Team practice begins MAY / JUNE Kids’ Activities: Tball, Cooking, Art, trips to Glenwood Caverns, Moab, and more! JULY 1: A Day In the Park! Inflatables, a Rib Cook-off, Color Run and Dinner with a Concert in the park round out the events. JULY 4: FIREWORKS over Kenney Reservoir! Visit for more info & activities!

Meekerpalooza 6/3, M eeker

Fun for the whole family! Meekerpalooza will showcase all aspects of dance, singing, music, visual and culinary arts. Events include live music performances, workshops & demonstrations, interactive kid art zone, Arts & Craft Fair and Taste of Meeker.

History in our Backyard J ,M une


History In our Backyard- Family History Camp brought to you by Heritage Culture Center and the Meeker Recreation District. Learn about blacksmithing, role play as a town founder, check out how old newspapers were printed and go on an adventure to some of the rural schools that existed at the turn of the century. For more information check out or

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happening Living in the remote and wild west doesn’t mean there’s not a lot for kids to do, adults either for that matter! HOME on the RANGELY has the most comprehensive and complete community and events calendar for Northwest Colorado is at WWW.HOMEONTHERANGELY.COM Here is a sampling...

Renaissance Faire

5/12-14, Grand Junction

Travel back in time to when knights were noble, maids were merry and turkey legs were titanic. Pay heed to the exploits of sword fighting, roam the village marketplace for unique crafts, feast on delicious food and drinks, and delight in comedy, music, magic and more! Go to for more information


Yoga for Kids Class Tuesdays in June, 1:00-1:30 w/ Tarrah Patch @ Rangely Rec Yoga-Belly Dance class at CNCC May 9-27 Tuesdays 6:30-7:30 pm Register online at & Kids Yoga! Details: contact Ann Renée Graham at 970-759-5446

Wagon Wheel OHV Rendezvous 7/13-15, M OHV Adventure Rally 8/10-13, R

Rangely Outdoor Museum Opening Celebration Campfire

Rangely Outdoor Museum campfire western music and storytelling Saturday May 6 7:30pm. Bring folding chairs, snacks, water and friends and enjoy an evening under the stars listening to music and storytelling about the old west!

Range Call 7/1-4, M


More info at



Meeker Range Call is the oldest continuous annual rodeo in Colorado! Event includes the Plein Air Art auction, the CPRA Rodeo, Live Concerts with Little Texas and Lonestar, MotoX, Marathons and more. For more information go to

Weekly Rodeo Series 6/1 - 8/31 7 , M pm


Every Thursday Night Family Fun Rodeo Action for all ages! FB @meeker2017summerrodeoseries

Museum of Western Colorado J /A ,G J une




The Museum of Western Colorado offers several digs and events for kids and adults all summer long. To find out more and information on how to sign up go to

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Caring for the Future.. Giant Step Preschool & Childcare Nurturing a new generation by Jasmine DeFreitas

Paint, dirty pants, mud-splashed shirts are the hallmark of a child whose developmental growth and learning is stimulated by active play in a structured but nonrestrictive environment. It’s a sight parents of Giant Step Preschool and Child Care Center both recognize and treasure. Giant Step, conceived in 1979, began offering childcare services in August of 1980, and a year later, opened its preschool. Originally located at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, it was moved to the old Masons building on Main Street in 1997, where it remains. Preschool-age is where early child developmental growth is most critical and why so many states, Colorado included, offer state-funded Preschool programs. Children enrolled in developmentally-appropriate early childhood education programs show significant growth in social and emotional skills, which prime them for academic success down the road. “It has been proven that children advancing out of a childcare/ preschool have a clear advantage in learning,” comments Giant Step Director Ingrid Reed. “Personally, I consider social and emotional development the most important aspect for attending Crimson preschool….Social and emotional growth is started at home, but Wolgamott gives a that initial foundation often needs the larger extended setting of a doll a bath on a warm center group to continue developing.” spring day Giant Step Board member and parent Caitlan Moore adds that, socially speaking, early childhood education has repeatedly proven itself a resource communities need. Prime among its benefits are reinforcing and extending children’s innate and intuitive love of learning. “Young children learn the most through playing, so I really appreciate that Giant Step has a structured routine, so their students know what to expect,” says Moore. “At the same time, kids still have plenty of freedom to explore and be kids, all while learning skills such as self-awareness, socializing, art, math, science and reading.” For Giant Step staff, children are the most rewarding aspect of their jobs. “The smiles when they see us, the hugs they give us, the interest they show in learning about new topics, the recall when their memories engage” are just a few of the joys Reed lists off. Children and parents alike love Giant Step, which speaks to the value its programs, staff and resources provide. While Moore’s two-year-old is happy to see her at day’s end, by the time he reaches the building’s front gate, he’s turned around in hopes for more “School! School!” Her four-year-old is equally enthusiastic come Monday. “The fact that they both love attending Giant Step despite, even at very different developmental stages, really speaks to the program’s successes,” states Moore. Giant Step has a Level 2 rating with Colorado Shines, the quality rating & improvement system implemented by the State of Colorado for licensed childcare centers and family childcare homes, including preschool programs. This means that the staff have completed all required training courses, and that Giant Step continues to focus on its strengths and improve its research-based program standards. The organization has applied for Level 3, which means the facility will also be rated based on qualities like family partnerships, learning environment and child health. Which begs the question, why do many parents choose not to invest in childcare? One factor is economic hardship. Childcare eats up a substantial portion of parental income. In Colorado,

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childcare averages $14,950 per year for one child, nearly one-third above the annual cost for college tuition in the state. Rangely parents, however, get a break. Because Giant Step is a non-profit organization with access to grants, donations and other resources to pay some of the overhead costs, childcare and tuition averages $8,320 for full-time attendance. Half-day rates and adjustable schedules offer further price reductions. The value of such a program is hard to emphasize. “While I fully recognize that I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom, it is still really hard to leave my kids in someone else’s care while I go to work,” says Moore. “The only thing that makes continuing to work possible for me is having access to reliable, trustworthy and compassionate childcare.” Giant Step also offers programs for two and three-year-olds, well before children can attend the public preschool or kindergarten. “Sending a child to preschool because you’re trying to enable your child to learn skills is a commitment,” says Reed. “The cost is an investment into your child’s future.” For organizations that rely on the generosity and commitment of others, economically dry periods can result in needs that are difficult to meet. For instance, Giant Step can’t always cover travel or course costs to ensure staff meet their required 15 hours of training per year. The nonprofit organization also relies on additional resources to pay expenses not covered by tuition. Many times, board members or Reed will ask if supplies or time can be donated instead of purchased, which can provide a tax deduction for the donating entity. “Big monetary donations are hard to find,” Reed states. “For example, we have been trying to find a donor for playground bark…for over a year. We have not been able to play on the slide structure side for two years now because of the low volume on the ground, which is a safety issue.” The federal government mandates such rules, and to meet this particular guideline, Giant Step needs over $1,000 for supply costs alone. To ameliorate these struggles, Rangely’s community can be the key factor in keeping Giant Step open and thriving. Currently, the board is only three members but needs five—a shortfall that makes it difficult to apply for additional grants for funding. Board membership is open to anyone in the community interested in education and helping children, and someone with fundraising and grant-writing skills would be particularly welcome. Like any board, some commitment and time is required, but the payoff is well worth it. Reed notes that the organization could not have come as far it has without all of its past and present board members. Childcare services, along with K-12 schooling options, factor significantly into whether potential employees and businesses will join a rural community. As the only such facility in Rangely, Giant Step offers an important resource to existing businesses seeking to bring in skilled work. “We have cut costs as much as we can and are happy and grateful for any amount raised through fundraisers and donations,” says Reed. Additionally, Giant Step maintains a wish-list of small A group of boys is in kind donations, such as tissues, dish soap, and other small items which when donated both playing and can go a long way to stretching limited funds. cleaning toys at this fun water table A grant last year allowed Giant Step to continue offering childcare services to local families through the summer months. This summer, Giant Step can keep its doors open thanks to families whose children will be attending full-time. With the commitment and aid of Board members, parents volunteers, and the community, Giant Step continues to be a tremendous resource for education, early development and quality care for Rangely’s children. RESOURCES (also available on blog.) Preschool@-The-Most-Important-Grade.aspx

? Did youG knS ow P

p reschool te t n ia to Your donation 50% TAX CREDIT! a is eligible for

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Carving out the Future... 4-H To make the best better

by Kerissa Taylor

In 1902, a man had an idea which has currently grown to reach almost six million youth and their families. He created a youth agricultural program called the Tomato or Corn Growers Club. In that same year, county fairs and other agriculture after-school clubs began showing up. The idea spread, and by 1912, 4-H was an official, nationwide club. Today 4-H is in every county across the United States and even around the world, run via cooperative extension through universities. 4-H, with its motto of “Making the Best Better,” is a world of learning, growing and leadership. Part of that world began right here in Rangely, Colorado in 1935. Eighty-two years later, it is still an active and fun group with 50 enrolled members developing skills from sewing and shooting guns and bows to the well-known livestock raising. The Rangely and Meeker 4-H program is overseen by Colorado State University extension agent for Rio Blanco County--Bill Ekstrom. Ekstrom has spent 30 years working in Rio Blanco County assisting youth and their parents with the many opportunities available. He is the County Extension Director (Agriculture, 4-H Youth Development) overseeing all things 4-H in both Meeker and Rangely. A part-time Participants show their rabbits to the fair coordinator in Rangely works with him and also directly with the 4-H judge for evaluation. youth of Rangely. The coordinator is “go-to person” for all Rangely 4-H related events or questions. Ekstrom recounts some of the fluxes Rangely 4-H has experienced over the years. “In 1988, we had 18 youth in the Rangely 4-H when I moved there,” he said. “The next year, we had 26 youth in Horse and 20 youth in Rabbit, more than doubling the program. The next major increase in 4-H numbers was due to the construction of the 4-H community pens. In this case, town kids could raise a market project. Over time, we saw the number of youth in Rangely raise to 80-plus...Today..The overall number of youth enrolled in Rio Blanco County is 211.” Over time, 4-H has begun to add programs beyond typical projects. Ekstrom said that CSU has recently emphasized STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Over the last year, 4-H has hosted STEM events for local youth, including sessions at the Night at Hogwarts fundraiser and lessons on Earth Cycles and Basic Electricity for fourth- and fifth-graders. Educators, parents and youth leaders can contact Ekstrom and Witherell about how to coordinate STEM activities into their programs. Ekstrom also shares the important role that 4-H plays in its members’ lives and why it is an important consideration for any family. “4-H empowers youth to reach their full potential through youthadult partnerships and research-based experiences,” he said. Priorities include youth seeing themselves as powerful members and partners in society; as participants in lifelong learning; as caring about diversity and having a social conscience; and as constantly striving for their best. Many youth and alumni adults who have participated in 4-H attest to its strong influence in their lives for the better. Whether there is interest in livestock, art, civics, or robotics, there is a place for them to grow, connect, and develop life skills that will take them above and beyond. To learn how to get involved in 4-H programs in RBC visit To learn more about 4-H visit

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Katye Allred showing her 4-H lamb at the county fair


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Carving out the Future... R angely Wrestling Overcoming adversity by Jasmine DeFreitas

Wrestling, as much as oil rigs and coal mines, is in Rangely’s blood. It’s about fullbody contact, cradles, turns, half nelsons and pins, and even with practice, kids can still take a thumping on the mat. Parents chew their bottom lip or sit back with a confident smile, eying the match. “There is nothing in this world that is ever just given to you,” Pee-Wee Wrestling Coach Brielle Smuts states. “Wrestling teaches you to work hard, rely on and trust yourself. There’s no one else out there on that mat that can help you. It’s all on you.” Rangely offers three wrestling programs; Pee-Wee is where many begin the sport and covers ages three to 14. This program is funded through the Rangely Wrestling Club and relies on volunteers for the annual tournament and coaching. Parent Cami Fielder has many positive comments about the program. “The coaches are amazing and the program is great,” she says. “This is Cooper’s first year wrestling; he has learned self-confidence and communication with his coaches. I like that it is teaching him to step out of his comfort zone and believe in himself.” For six-year-old Cooper, his first year has been an overall success. In his last tournament, he not only got his first pin but also placed third. “Watching them succeed and how excited they get over winning or getting just a pin,” Smuts explained, is a favorite aspect of being involved with the program. “The older kids are great with the younger ones and will sit on their mat and cheer them on or work with them in practice. It’s amazing to watch those relationships grow as well.” The Pee-Wee program benefits from the experience of Head Coach Michael Chism, who wrestled in Rangely from age 12 through high school. “Wrestling was definitely a highlight growing up,” Chism said. Working with some of the youngest can be challenging, but Chism adds, “It provides a different way... to refine their motor skills.” Smuts believes wrestling also hones kids’ coping skills and elevates situational awareness. She has two children in the program. “They both learn to work hard and always try their best,” she says. “They learn that only you are responsible for the outcome. You can only depend on yourself to win.” However, despite the confidence and skills the kids learn on the mat, they don’t always succeed. Both Chism and Smuts find this to be the most difficult aspect of coaching, though it lays the foundation for learning perseverance in other struggles. “You watch them work so hard, and to sometimes come up short is killer,” Smuts says. “They always bounce back and work harder the next time, but it’s still hard to see the disappointment they feel .... This teaches the kids to become confident and know that when they succeed, they did it themselves.”

It is no wonder that wrestling is part of Rangely’s blood. From the work ethic to the determination and triumph, wrestling shines in an arena that thrives on adversity.

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The second level of wrestling for youth is through Rangely Junior High School, where Head Coach Jeff LeBleu, who has also helped with the PeeWee Program, has persevered through almost three decades of coaching at all levels. LeBleu also headed up the high school program where he ultimately coached current Rangely High School Head Coach Travis Witherell to a state championship. This year, he sent students to the state competition, where Zane Varner, a 7th grader placed sixth. “Summer wrestlers make winter champions,” says LeBleu, quoting a wrestling phrase. He notes the connection between wrestlers and self-confidence but adds Braden Lucas struggles to pin his opponent and a recent tournament, that some competitors can lose that Photo by Mandy Lucas confidence. “To learn how to win, you have to learn how to lose,” LeBleu says. His own son is learning not to wrestle “scared” because, in sixth grade, he is pitted against eighth graders who are his size but who have more experience. Next, LeBleu says, is “getting over the mental block. You learn to take your lumps.” Two of LeBleu’s wrestlers performed particularly well this year: Dante Pierce with a 13-1 record and Varner, who remained undefeated. The Colorado High School Athletics Association (CHSAA) is developing a girl’s wrestling season, which may be a year or two out but which LeBleu is excited to see. Almost two decades of experience coaching enables Witherell to be a strong head coach for Rangely High School’s wrestling team. Witherell has been involved in wrestling from the age of four, from student to coach. He recalls many kids his age wrestled growing up... the love of the sport runs deep through Rangely. Witherell culminated his student wrestling career with a state championship during his senior year, previously earning fourth during his freshman year, then second in his sophomore and junior years. Now, as he hones wrestlers for their own try at state, he focuses on more than physical ability. “We as coaches try to develop a relationship with our athletes as soon as possible,” he says. “I’ll always try to help (with the pee-wee wrestling program) when I can and get to know many of those youth wrestlers. Because they’ll know me from pee wee and all those years up, hopefully they will develop that relationship and want to participate in the high school program.” “The hardest part of coaching, in my experience, has been patience. I will get so frustrated because an athlete isn’t working hard or is struggling to understand a technique, when there are really so many different factors that go into play.” Witherell understands that young adults face other stressors in their lives, including school, relationship, and personal issues. Luckily, he has two assistant coaches, Claude Rose and J.C. Chumacero, who help him deal with the relational aspects that are also integral to growing the program. Like Smuts and Chism, Witherell points out that individual accountability and discipline in wrestling are different than in other sports. “It is a constant grind that wears you down and tries to defeat you every second of the day,” he says. “You learn to fight against it, to rise up and be strong for yourself. You are accountable for whether you give up and let it wear you down…or if you stand up and work your hardest to be better.” It is no wonder that wrestling is part of Rangely’s blood. From the work ethic to the determination and triumph, wrestling shines in an arena that thrives on adversity. Axle Koenig, whose mother grew up in Rangely and whose grandmother still lives here, took home top honors at the recent Rangely Tournament.

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Postal Customer

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Elizabeth Robinson Studio Llc POB 514 Rangely, CO 81648

The KID Issue: Home on the Rangely April / May 2017  

Authentic Life in the Wild and Remote West

The KID Issue: Home on the Rangely April / May 2017  

Authentic Life in the Wild and Remote West