Elisa Shackelton reflects on years at Moffat County Extension Office

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— Elisa Shackelton took some time Wednesday, her last day in the office at Moffat County Extension, to reflect on her 8 1/2 years in Craig.

She chuckled when she said that she was Y2K arrival to Craig because she came here Jan. 1, 2000. At that time, she was the new Family and Consumer Service Agent at the county extension office. Later, she became director of the Colorado State University Moffat County Extension.

"Extension is an incredible resource," Shackelton said. "It has really been fun working with Moffat County groups."

"This area has a reputation for people working together. They're good partners working toward common goals."

During the time Shackelton has been working with Moffat County Extension, she's helped community residents find resources to solve various problems, and thousands of dollars in grants have been used for various programs.

Shackelton talked about a few of the programs that stand out for her. One is the RAD After School Program for Moffat County students.

In 2001, Shackelton was at ground level getting the after school activities started. Participants in RAD get to choose from a variety of activities, including rocketry, scrapbooking, baby-sitter training, a Harry Potter club and more.

"I was glad that I could help facilitate RAD," she said.

According to Shackelton, RAD helped the community realize child safety is a priority and also that the Moffat County School District couldn't solve all of the problems. Other agencies were needed to help. So, in 2005, RAD evolved into the Boys & Girls Club of Craig.

Another program she is proud of is the Healthy People Program. Funded by a $150 grant, the program has helped fuel healthy school lunches and is responsible for helping adults learn to eat healthy, too.

From 2003 to 2006, Healthy Lunch for Grown-Ups was hosted at the Extension Office. Attendees helped cook meals, tried new recipes and learned to plan healthier menus.

Eat Well on $5 a Day is another part of the Healthy People Program. In this case, people are given $5 a day to buy food. The concept is to work with low-income people so they better utilize the food dollar.

Still another component of the program is disc golf, hosted at the Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig. Participants exercise by throwing and retrieving discs. And related to disc golf is the Dog Walking Challenge during which time people keep track of steps taken while walking their dogs.

"Moffat County beat the pants off Estes Park in two different challenges," Shackelton said, referring to the competition part of the program.

Another of her projects related to health is Healthy Housing. Its purpose is to raise awareness of health issues that can result from "sick" houses and work spaces. Through the program, people can learn about mold, carbon monoxide, radon and other conditions and what they can do about them.

And she has been involved in a whole lot more during her time in Moffat County.

She summed it up this way:

"I've had a blast," Shackelton said. "I love to teach and help people help themselves. I see a need, figure a way to create a solution and find resources for the solution."

Her new position will take her to the CSU campus in Fort Collins, but she'll still be working with Moffat County.

She explained that CSU always has had a person who worked with Denver and out-of-state alumni, but there has never been a person specifically designated to working with the rest of Colorado - until now.

Although Shackelton will not begin her new job until Monday, she thinks she'll be working with extension experiment stations, distance learning and other outreach arms of CSU. She will find alumni, including those in Moffat County, to work with the outreach arms.

Helping rural communities better access CSU also will be part of Shackelton's job. In other words, she will be a liaison between CSU and Colorado communities.

"I get to continue helping Moffat County residents from a new angle," she said. "I'm so excited. It's going to be a whole new journey."

Copyright Diane Prather, 2008. All rights reserved.

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