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  • Difference Maker: James Dilzell

    Where do we often meet people who are top influencers of our community? A professional development training? Local board meetings? Color Coffee? When I realized how impactful James Dilzell is, I was his punching dummy in a Kickboxing class. The guy has a great jab and the flexibility makes for a limber opponent… but the new Executive Director of Eagle River Watershed Council has a stoke for water that goes beyond a striking first impression. James’ home state of Ohio is neighboring one of the Great Lakes (Erie) making it the land of 'much water’ and easy access to recreational water… but not always drinkable. A member the kayaking club in Alabama, James remembers a course in one location where they were told “if you flip, don’t open your mouth”. The local chicken processing plant was upstream and drained directly into the river filling it with thriving toxic bacteria. Additionally, his field ecology class in high school included a 2-week summer program to explore Lake Erie and the ecology, ecosystems, and environment inside of this body of water. Dissecting fish, learning more about the bugs, seeing the ecosystem up close and evaluating were some fond memories. He attributed these experiences and memories to his love of water and passion to care for (and inherently restore) the environment, but most specifically freshwater ecosystems. James found his college home at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!). The University was recruiting for engineering degrees, and James found himself in the mechanical engineering program. Junior year came around, and James felt like there was more in the world than mechanical engineering. After some deep searching, he discovered the newly-established environmental engineering degree in the university’s programs. While not the ‘claim-to-fame’ major at U of A, James’ passion and interest in this field propelled him into the environmental workforce. Starting his career by exploring in one of the most beautiful places in the world, James found a job with the Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) and traveled up to Northwest Montana. Finding this job was a quick process, as he got a call, interviewed, and traveled to Kalispell in just over a week. Overall development of youth was his focus with MCC as James led groups of youth (sophomore-senior in High School) to do trail work, campsite maintenance, etc. as well as leadership development. This position allowed James to highlight different careers and opportunities for growth in the environmental field, and the smile on his face showed his excitement to spread awareness about the area he’s so passionate about. That being said, this job wasn’t his career high-point (obviously), but certainly a launching point. Walking Mountains brought James to the Eagle Valley, and he’s been here in the land of ‘limited water’ for 5 years. James has been with the Eagle River Watershed Council for just over 3 years. Serving as the Education and Outreach Coordinator from 2019 until Spring of 2022 allowed a space for him to build skill paths overlapping educational and technical aspects. Blasting into the Executive Director position this spring (at the age of 27), James admits this is a dream job of his. It’s not ever what he would have envisioned at this point in his life, but this is the field, capacity, and location where he belongs. How did this 27-year-old land an ED position? “Put your hat in the ring”, Dilzell encourages others to not limit their potential. Now stepping into huge roles surrounding technical aspects, policy work, community representation, and advocacy for local water, James' career is right where he wants it to be. James encourages all to “just try something!! You might hate it, but it’ll get you somewhere nonetheless.” The state of water in Eagle County and the West is ‘unpredictable’. Our local water supply relies so much on changing snowpack , that our use and management of water is essential. Eagle County is responsible for about 3% of the total flow of the Colorado River. “Collaboration is key” claims Dilzell, encouraging ideas, learning, and discussion. Conversations with the county, town(s), partners, neighbors, and friends are how awareness gets raised and how the watershed reaches its greatest potential. Water connects all of our lives and we should all be connected to water. James is happy to chat with anyone, in order to better serve the watershed, and he can be reached at dilzell@erwc.org. Written by Cameron Dole, Youth Engagement Manager at Mountain Youth, cdole@mountainyouth.org

  • Youth Spotlight: Rylee Sharkey

    Rylee Sharkey has a sure way of energizing you with her call for action! “Once you enter the world of sustainability, you see it applies to everything, it factors into every aspect of life and impacts everyone. Get involved! See the behind the scenes of the process!” Rylee speaks passionately about how we cannot ignore the environmental aspect and how humans aren’t separate but very much part of it. It reminded me of this quote by Lady Bird Johnson: “The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” Rylee was a key organizer and promoter of the Sustainable Splash, an event culminating her efforts on an environmental awareness project with Valley's Voice (VV). Rylee saw the biggest goals of the event being about accessible outdoor recreation and sustainability, fun and safe river activities for all levels, and collaboration with local partners like Vail Health, Timberline Tours, and The Watershed Council. Sustainable Splash and Rylee are showing us that being environmentally conscious is first of all lots of fun! Learning about it is fun, participating is great fun, connecting with others who are interested is super fun! Rylee appreciates the opportunities of Valley’s Voice where young people focus on their passion projects. She values the fact that VV opens up resources to her and to the community as a whole. Rylee enjoys VV because everyone is eager to be involved and so enthusiastic and it feels good to be a part of an animated team. It is also a great atmosphere for learning and taking on leadership roles. Rylee is currently a Junior at EVHS and last year she got involved in an initiative by Walking Mountains called the Youth Environmental Leadership Council. The participants hosted clean ups around the valley and a clothing swap outside of the Youth Closet. These are such simple and powerful ways to help protect the Earth: reduce, reuse and recycle, shop wisely and dedicate efforts to community clean ups. Have you seen the green tents with the Recycle, Compost and Trash compartments at local events like the Block Party, Youthapalooza, and the Rodeo? They are there thanks to the Zero Waste Team with Walking Mountains and Rylee works on sorting throughout the events and after. Yet another way she role models that taking action is necessary and very doable. The Eagle Valley High School Green Team is fortunate to have Rylee as its president. The team advocated for and obtained larger size recycling bins thus expanding the school capacity to hold more recycling. They have goals to train teachers, custodians and students about recycling as well as make it easy for everyone. Rylee and the team track differences and educate about commercial versus residential recycling, and make the single stream and dual stream recycling requirements understandable. Rylee and the team share a vision of expanding the Green Team with more volunteer opportunities, recognition at graduation for the members, and starting a tree planting project. She also thinks about the big picture collaboration of the Green Team, the Zero Waste Team and the Valley’s Voice Passion Project about the Environment, because combining efforts means larger impact inside of school and outside of school. Rylee is committed to obtaining an Associates Degree in Science with emphasis on Environmental Studies by the time she finishes High School. She also has an Internship with Eagle River Watershed Council where she learns about water quality, restorations, and general education about river health. We all need this reminder from her, “Water is complicated, there are intricate laws about it and everyone needs it and should care deeply about it!” If up to now you missed the part that Rylee is fierce and extremely versatile, let me tell you she has been dancing for the last 5 years and now has chosen rugby as her fall sport! If you are curious to know how she got to advocate so successfully and accomplish so much it is due to simple truths. It doesn’t feel like work to her, all she does is so true to who she is. She focuses on what she enjoys (sustainability), meeting new people, having meaningful experiences, building things, trying a variety of new things! Her message for her peers of all ages is: “When in doubt, just try something different! A focus group, a project, a new sport. You might surprise yourself!” Written by: Tsveti Fuentes, Community Mobilizer at Mountain Youth, tfuentes@mountainyouth.org

  • Youth Spotlight: Armando "Mando" Fuentes

    We recommend getting to know Mando if you haven’t already, since he wants to get to know you! Mando’s outgoing, approachable, and generous nature make him a great addition to our team at Mountain Youth. Although he doesn't have an official title, we know he can be relied upon to help and contribute creative ideas and positive energy to any task he undertakes. His responsibilities include serving on the High School Valley's Voice Board and the Communities that Care Media and Data Teams. Mando helps brainstorm the areas or risk factors that we could improve upon. He also helps determine how we go about making positive changes and promoting protective factors for our local youth. When there are other opportunities to jump in and help, he is on it and comes in with his dimpled smile, contagious laugh, and excellent attitude. Being a true "day one" Vail Valley native, Mando appreciates the people in his community, as well as, the beautiful surroundings. Although he loves his home, he embraces the opportunity to learn about the world through travel. Both of his parents are immigrants to the United States and have an appreciation for learning about other peoples’ cultures and experiences. They have encouraged Mando through out his travels. His passion for traveling stems from the fact that he has been able to learn more from his explorations and adventures in the nine countries he has visited, than he could have learned in a classroom. During his travels and explorations, he finds value in serving the communities he visits. His favorite activity has been volunteering as an educator. His passion for education is evident in his work with organizations in Eagle County and in his own life. He looks forward to continuing his world-travels, but is working to save up to buy a car. Having his own vehicle would make it easier for him to get around and explore the rest of Colorado and other states as well. Mando's attitude towards life is admirable, and many of us could learn from him. "Be here now" is one of the many mottos he lives by. While he sees his peers spending their time scrolling on their phones, he would rather be outside, being creative, or meeting new people. He enjoys many of the same activities as others do in our Valley. A few of the things you can find him doing include, snowboarding, mountain biking, trail running, and creating art in the art room at his high school. In addition to working for Mountain Youth, he is also a volunteer for the Children's Global Alliance, SOS, and the Community Market in his spare time. He shares that he believes in the importance of giving and helping others. Regardless of how fortunate you are, there is something that we can all learn from each other. There are a few things that he thinks you should do or be to embrace life: Be selfless; Be humble; Be yourself. And, don’t be afraid to take risks. These are the demands he tries to live by, but also, have fun! Cameron Dole, the Youth Engagement Coordinator for Mountain Youth, works closely with Mando and shares, “Armando Fuentes is an outstanding young man who uses an array of experiences to communicate, challenge, and conversate with peers, younger youth, and 'adults'. His charismatic presence provides an essential vibe for every situation. His willingness to hop on board is always present, and his bonds built with those he interacts with are impressive. I am so lucky to work with Mando, and his smile, stoke, and service for the community are unmatched!” Mando is going into his Junior year at Eagle Valley High School. He is still figuring out what he would like to do after high school, but we know that whatever he gets into, he will thrive and be a confident and influential individual that you would be lucky to know. We look forward to continuing to have the privilege of working with him. Written By: Grace Meinberg, Mountain Youth Manager of Safe Driving Efforts

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  • Calendar | Mountain Youth

    Constructive Conversations (Offered In Spanish) Sep 27, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM Edwards, 150 Miller Ranch Rd, Edwards, CO 81632, USA Constructive Conversations: Together as youth and adults, learn to work through tough topics and big emotions. RSVP Climb & Flip! Sep 27, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Edwards Field House, 450 Miller Ranch Rd, Edwards, CO 81632, USA Valley’s Voice invites you to Climb and Flip! Boulder and climb on the walls, then dodge and flip on the trampolines! Dinner and snacks provided. Free to all MS & HS! Limited to 30 participants, please RSVP. +5 more RSVP Graduated Driver's License Panel - Edwards Sep 28, 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM MDT Battle Mountain High School, 151 Miller Ranch Rd, Edwards, CO 81632, USA You Will Learn: How to get a permit and license Consequences of not following restrictions How to set expectations How to protect your new driver and vehicle Dinner and childcare provided! RSVP Graduated Driver's License Panel - Gypsum Sep 29, 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM Gypsum Recreation Center, 52 Lundgren Blvd, Gypsum, CO 81637, USA You Will Learn: How to get a permit and license Consequences of not following restrictions How to set expectations How to protect your new driver and vehicle Dinner and childcare provided! RSVP Constructive Conversations (Offered In English) Oct 05, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM Edwards, 150 Miller Ranch Rd, Edwards, CO 81632, USA Constructive Conversations: Together as youth and adults, learn to work through tough topics and big emotions. RSVP

  • Safe Driving

    Safe Driving REGISTER FOR YOUNG DRIVER Q&A PANEL HERE! Protecting Our Community by Protecting Our Roadways Mountain Youth is focused on educating young drivers about the perils of impaired and distracted driving and promotes Driving Sober & Alert. Through education presentations, community messaging, improving transportation systems, and pursuing strategies that prevent youth access to substances, Mountain Youth reminds young people to choose sober, safe and healthy behaviors. Through a five-year grant provided by the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health and three-year grant funds provided by Colorado Department of Transportation, Mountain Youth will collaborate with local community partners to reduce and prevent impaired and distracted driving through Eagle County. Mountain Youth engages community partners from a variety of professions and experiences to be a part of our Safe Driving Steering Committee. Interested in being involved? Please contact Grace Meinberg, Safe Driving Manager ​ BARS & RESTURANTS BUS ROUTES ​​Safe Ride Program OUR MESSAGE Mountain Youth and ECO Transit teamed up to create the Safe Ride program, which provides people with a free ride home from a safe driver after a night out on the town. We recognize that indulging in things like alcohol and cannabis will occur, but the decision that follows is crucial. One of our top concerns is to keep yourself and others safe by not getting behind the wheel. As a result, we're giving away free rides to a bus stop near you. Just ask your bartender about a free, sober, and safe ride Graduated Driver's License (GDL) Graduated Driving Licensing Presentations Mountain Youth and Colorado Young Driver Alliance collaborated to create a GDL toolkit to direct young drivers and their parents/guardians to resources that explain Graduated Drivers License laws and regulations. EXPLORE TOOLKIT COMING SOON! Mountain Youth has spent the last few months creating a phone application to help guide youth, parents, and caregivers. The app is called CO GDL. When it becomes live, you can download it to your phone. You will have the chance to be quizzed on Graduated Driver's Licensing laws and restrictions, navigate a step-by-step walk-through on how to get your license depending on age, and explore additional resources. We will keep you posted on its progress!

  • All Youth Thrive | Mountain Youth | Edwards,CO

    youth /yo͞oTH/ noun: youth; plural noun: youths the period between childhood and adult age; anyone between the ages of 9 and 25. About Us Mountain Youth continues to make a positive impact on young people’s lives. Learn about the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey the largest data assessment effort administered biennially to middle and high school students, and the "Be Your Best U." Social Norms campaign. Are you a young person passionate about making change? Learn more about Valley's Voice . Parents, caregivers and trusted adults are invited to join the conversation through Eat Chat Parent . Take a minute to learn how we all work together, because you are not alone. Need to know more about Graduated Drivers Licensing Laws in English and Spanish, watch our GDL presentations on our Safe Driving Page . ​ All of our work embodies empowering youth to thrive! UPCOMING EVENTS UPCOMING EVENTS Constructive Conversations (Offered In Spanish) Tue, Sep 27 Edwards Sep 27, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM Edwards, 150 Miller Ranch Rd, Edwards, CO 81632, USA Constructive Conversations: Together as youth and adults, learn to work through tough topics and big emotions. RSVP Climb & Flip! Tue, Sep 27 Edwards Field House Sep 27, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Edwards Field House, 450 Miller Ranch Rd, Edwards, CO 81632, USA Valley’s Voice invites you to Climb and Flip! Boulder and climb on the walls, then dodge and flip on the trampolines! Dinner and snacks provided. Free to all MS & HS! Limited to 30 participants, please RSVP. +5 more RSVP Graduated Driver's License Panel - Edwards Wed, Sep 28 Battle Mountain High School Sep 28, 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM MDT Battle Mountain High School, 151 Miller Ranch Rd, Edwards, CO 81632, USA You Will Learn: How to get a permit and license Consequences of not following restrictions How to set expectations How to protect your new driver and vehicle Dinner and childcare provided! RSVP Graduated Driver's License Panel - Gypsum Thu, Sep 29 Gypsum Recreation Center Sep 29, 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM Gypsum Recreation Center, 52 Lundgren Blvd, Gypsum, CO 81637, USA You Will Learn: How to get a permit and license Consequences of not following restrictions How to set expectations How to protect your new driver and vehicle Dinner and childcare provided! RSVP Constructive Conversations (Offered In English) Wed, Oct 05 Edwards Oct 05, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM Edwards, 150 Miller Ranch Rd, Edwards, CO 81632, USA Constructive Conversations: Together as youth and adults, learn to work through tough topics and big emotions. RSVP

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