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Growing For Good

Updated: Feb 2, 2020

Quality, evidence-based programs can transform a young person’s life. Mountain Youth provides such programs—whether it’s We Hear U, Botvin LifeSkills, Valley’s Voice or safe driving education. In order to provide the hundreds of hours of education, Mountain Youth has expanded our staff team.

“We are excited and deeply grateful to be able to grow and fill gaps with both in-school programs and out-of-school experiences,” says Michelle Stecher, executive director of Mountain Youth. “We strive to be the go-to organization that empowers young people to transform their lives and leverage their voice, and humbled about the expertise and passion we are adding to our team.”

Amy Baker, Andrea Glass and Betsy Van Beek have joined the team as LifeSkills educators. In 2019, 1,641 students were part of this program that focuses on substance abuse prevention, decision-making, conflict resolution and self-esteem through healthy dialogue and real-life scenarios.

Baker brings her passion as a mentor, teacher, yogi and coach to Mountain Youth. Her main philosophy with coaching rests in the belief that everyone has the answers and clarity inside. She believes that the children are the future and loves sharing these tools with our "mountain youth.” Amy has been teaching yoga, meditation and mindfulness for over 2 decades, has a degree in Exercise Science and is pursing a graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health.

Glass has worked with Mountain Youth’s in-school programs on a contract basis since 2018. She is passionate about the importance of Mountain Youth's programming, and the valuable information provided to students. She thoroughly enjoys spending time with, and supporting, our community’s young people.

Betsy Van Beek joined Mountain Youth in 2018 contractually and is now a part-time staff member, using a variety of activity-based lessons to engage students. Betsy has lived in the valley since 2007 and taught English and ESL in the Eagle County School District for 10 years. Prior to Colorado, she taught in Honduras for four years where she acquired a passion for teaching cross-culturally.

Madison Partridge joined Mountain Youth as the administrative associate. Her positive attitude has already transformed the workings of the office, and brought much-needed support to our operations. Madison has been eager to immerse in the community through Family Leadership Training Institute and other programs.

Flor Vasquez brings the youth voice and perspective as Valley’s Voice youth advisor; listening, engaging and creating community for young people. An Eagle Valley High School 2019 graduate, she has a passion for community engagement and was in the inaugural class of CareerX students.

Under the safe and sober events umbrella, we are excited to welcome Tara van Dernoot as the NamaStay Sober coordinator, where she will help expand sober events around the Vail Valley. She has lived in the area since 1994 and has worked in the school district, piloting a healthy snack program that then led to the development of the Fresh Approach lunch program. Over the years the van Dernoot family has lived in Mexico, motored down the eastern seaboard and traveled for an extended time in Asia. She is excited to share mindfulness and yoga as way to build community and offer tools for those seeking alternative sober activities.

Fernando Almanza volunteered with Mountain Youth for several years before he signed on as Graduated Driver Licensing Education Coordinator. Almanza is involved in all facets of our community: as an Eagle County 911 Dispatcher and hostage negotiator, a volunteer with Bright Future Foundation's Buddy Mentor Program, Communities that Care, No DUI Steering Committee member, Family Leadership Training Institute 2017, Red Ribbon Project, Special Olympics Polar Plunge and Bright Future’s Crisis Hotline, and he serves on the Eagle County Schools Board of Education. Fernando graduated from Battle Mountain High School and brings enthusiasm, experience and connection to the young people he works with.

Mountain Youth was founded in 2001 and has grown over the decades. The demand for programs increases every year: in 2019, Mountain Youth engaged 15,377 residents, creating a safe place for conversation, giving young people a voice, providing accurate information and creating a community where all youth thrive.

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