Elisa Shackelton: Things I hope you will do when I am gone


— I was told recently that I am considered the "Northwest Colorado Worry Wart," always trying to make sure that all of you are aware of the hazards lurking around us, and how to make healthier lifestyle choices.

I always have strived to walk my talk, which hasn't been an easy task, since some of you gaze into my grocery cart and wonder how I justify the potato chips.

Remember, they say that if 90 percent of your diet is healthy and you exercise regularly, the other 10 percent of your diet can be fun stuff such as chips and dark chocolate (i.e. the new dark chocolate M&M's recently spotted in my cart).

So, I guess it will come as no surprise that as I prepare to leave for a new position in Fort Collins, I am now worried that you will all forget all the lessons I have taught you through the past 8 1/2 years. Here's a summary of the things I hope you will start doing or continue doing without me here to remind (nag) you:

• Test your home and/or office for radon and get them fixed if you have elevated levels.

Why? I don't want you to die of lung cancer, and neither do your friends and family members. The Extension Office still has free radon test kits.

• Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

Why? They can protect your from diseases such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, etc. Not only will you feel better, but you will probably look better, too. Sailors that didn't eat fresh fruit for months eventually got scurvy. This would be a good year to grow a garden, given the gas prices and rising costs of food. If you don't have time or space, be sure to support local farmers' markets.

• Deep water your trees on a regular basis.

Why? Water delivered to your lawn isn't usually enough to support a tree, and typically doesn't go deep enough to reach the tree's roots. Your trees not only contribute to the aesthetics of your property, but also decrease summer cooling needs, as well as add to the property value. Plant some new ones so there will be plenty here in 30 years, too.

• Go play disc golf at Loudy-Simpson Park.

Why? It's a great sport for people of any fitness level. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and a disc or two. The rules and score cards are in the box on the kiosk. My dream is to visit Craig some day and find that the course has been expanded to 18 holes! Thanks to the original 10 business sponsors in town that believed in this obesity prevention project and to the Moffat County Parks and Recreation staff that have helped groom and make improvements to the course. The old docks will soon become much-needed bridges, thanks to the resourcefulness of Director Tammy Seela!

• Eat more whole grain foods.

Why? They are good for your nervous system, skin, hair and brain. They also keep your digestive system regular and can reduce blood cholesterol levels. Studies show they help control our appetite, making us feel full longer. Eat your oats!

• Enter something in this year's Moffat County Fair.

Why? The annual county fair is a great place for everyone in the community to share their creativity and bounty. Bring in your best photograph, enter the salsa contest, grow the biggest zucchini, or just come and look at all the neat things your friends, family, and neighbors have been making or growing all year!

• Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Why? We all need to do our part to join the "green" movement. (I read that some people are starting to suffer from "green guilt" because they want to do something to help the environment but aren't sure what :)

Try to decrease your carbon imprint on the planet by taking cloth bags to the store, walking or riding a bike when you can and taking recyclables to the Craig Recycling Center on north Yampa. How about refilling your own water bottles this summer instead of buying cases of bottled water or sports drinks and throwing away the plastic bottles. They say we all are consuming too much plastic, so maybe you can buy the family some nice new metal water bottles for the summer.

• Correct moisture problems in and around your home in order to control mold growth.

Why? Excess moisture not only weakens the structural components of your home, but also creates poor indoor air conditions and increases allergy and asthma risks for the home's occupants. Be sure the soil around your home slopes away from it so that melting snow and rain water don't drain into the house. Vent bathrooms and kitchens every time hot, steamy water is being generated. Wipe out the shower if you have time to, to avoid mold growth on shower curtains, tiles, etc. Replace aluminum windows (that are covered with condensation all winter and become moldy on the sills) with better-quality, insulated windows. You'll realize some savings on your home heating and cooling costs by doing so, as well.

For more information, contact Elisa at the CSU Moffat County Extension Office, 539 Barclay, 824-9180.


bearscout 8 years, 10 months ago

I wish Elisa all the best in Ft. Collins. I'm afraid she won't be able to make as large an impact in that community as she did here. Afterall, the folks on the front range are a lot smarter and healthier than we are. I didn't know how important she was until I read the list she made in this article. I do commend some of her pet projects...free radon test kits for one. However, she shouldn't count the disc golf course at Loudy Simpson as a crowning achievement. It is rarely used and is already in disrepair from trucks running over it. I further dispute the fact that it fights obesity. The only people I ever see playing disc golf are lugging around small coolers of 'beverages'. The disc golf course is a thorn in my side and I hope it is NEVER expanded to 18 holes. Since I go to Loudy almost everday and get to see the disc course winter, spring, summer and fall, I for one will always remember Elisa.


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