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Student nurses wow Memorial Regional Health providers

During the eighth annual poster presentation held recently at The Memorial Hospital, second-year nursing students from Colorado Northwestern Community College spoke to providers about their research and ideas to improve medical care.

“For the Peoples Choice, and most thought-provoking poster, the winner was Tiffany Ford, with her poster on genetic testing for choosing anti-depressants,” CNCC nursing faculty Julie Alkema wrote in an email. Alkema added that the recognition for the poster with “the Evidence-Based Practice you (providers) are most likely to incorporate” was a tie between Ford and Makala Sheridan. Sheridan’s research explored the use of clean versus sterile dressings.

At least two students provided ideas about affordable, non-opioid options for pain treatment, such as the use of a TENS device — a small, portable, and powerful electrotherapy unit — which student Amy Nielson believes would provide relief for some patients. Student Taylor Schmidt, who said she’d like to be an obstetrician-gynecologist, presented her research on using nitrous oxide instead of epidurals during childbirth. Student Natasha Goncalves presented on the pain-relieving power of yoga.

Some students used their posters to present population intervention comparison and outcomes. Student Allie Herring considered what is safer, eight or 12-hour nursing shifts, and concluded eight-hour shifts result in fewer nursing mistakes. The relationship between antibiotics and the development of food allergies was the topic of student nurse Megan Gerloff’s poster.

Student nurse Tessa Briggs took a look at the benefits of on-site daycare for hospital staff, while Kylee Rodriguez looked at the role of oral care in preventing “device infections,” which can lead to pneumonia. Sadye Morgan described patients’ increased propensity to bath when given the choice to use chlorhexidine wipes, and Yunira Gomez presented her finding on reducing “alarm fatigue.”

Alkema began the poster program eight years ago as a penultimate project for student nurses planning to graduate her advanced medical-surgical program for the care of acutely ill adults.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

Ground breaks on Hayden’s new school

HAYDEN — Construction began Wednesday on Hayden’s new pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade campus, with the doors anticipated to open at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

In addition to a state-of-the-art new school for the district's 435 students, many of whom attended the groundbreaking ceremony, the new school will also provide space for the community and will be the "heart of our town,” according to Superintendent Christy Sinner.

A few things had to happen to “make a dream become a reality,” Sinner said. First, the district needed public support in the form of the passage of a $22.9 million bond in 2017.

By the numbers

The cost estimate breakdown for Hayden's new school is as follows.

• $5 million: Design and consulting fees

• $2 million: Permitting and utilities

• $1 million: Asbestos abatement

• $1.5 million: Furniture and technology

• $50.5 million: Construction

• $1 million: Demolition

Passage of the bond issue was close — the vote deadlocked on election night at 427 to 427, but victory was confirmed after a recount found a two-vote margin in favor.

Then came the application for the state BEST — Building Excellent Schools Today — grant, which would give Hayden the matching money needed to fund construction.

The 2017 application was denied, “but we learned a lot,” said board member Kevin Lind at Wednesday's ceremony.

In May, the district found out it had finally been awarded a $38.8 BEST grant.

The Colorado State Board of Education approved $275 million in BEST grants in 2018, the largest amount given to date and a 60-percent increase from the $172 million awarded in 2017. The grants are funded through state land proceeds, lottery funds, and marijuana tax revenue.

Throughout the process, one of the core values was flexibility, Lind said, as well as knowing that “education in the 21st century is going to change.”

“I’m so excited for these kids to be in a space that is so much more conducive to learning and so much more conducive to creativity,” said Board Treasurer Medora Fralick. “And we are going to have windows.”

The new building will be a stark contrast from the old building, with its dark, drafty hallways and windowless classrooms.

Lind was also a member of the design advisory group, which met for a year and consisted of 19 community members and educators.

They held public forums and gathered information from administrators, teachers, students, and residents. Cuningham Group Architecture was selected as the design team, and Adolfson & Peterson Construction was chosen as the contractor.

The new campus is being built next to the elementary school off Breeze Basin Boulevard. The old elementary school will be renovated and incorporated into the new campus.

While the school is being constructed next year, elementary students will join middle- and high-school students on the existing campus.

While some options for another entity to take over portions of the old school are being explored, no plans have yet been finalized.

If another entity is not found, the BEST grant requires the old campus be demolished.

“I think its going to be awesome,” said fourth-grader Jordan Stewart. “It’s going to have a lot more light in it.”

He said he’s also excited for the new football field.

“It’s going to have a new life to it,” added seventh-grader Emily Rajzer.

Contact Kari Dequine Harden at 970-871-4205 or kharden@SteamboatPilot.com, or follow her on Twitter @KariHarden.

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Dino delights: Walter the hadrosaur helping put CNCC on the map

Walter may be old, but he — or she — is about to enjoy a comfy retirement at Colorado Northwestern Community College where everyone can appreciate the journey that brought him here.

Walter is perhaps Craig’s oldest retiree — a huge 75 million-year-old hadrosaur, an herbivore dinosaur that volunteers, students and scientists spent the last five years unearthing near Rangely. Led by Liz Johnson, science faculty and curator of paleontology at CNCC, crews have dug up and cleaned about half the dinosaur’s massive bones and are getting ready to show the world.

“We are finally getting to the point where we can start displaying,” Johnson said Wednesday.

To celebrate, volunteers on Tuesday helped Johnson with a mural honoring Walter at CNCC — a huge to-scale painting near the main entrance to Craig’s burgeoning community college. As she stood underneath the painting directing volunteers, she was dwarfed by the sheer size of CNCC’s prized, fossilized plant eater.

The college also plans to roll out some merchandise celebrating their one-of-a-kind specimen — posters, replica dinosaurs, and a skin exhibit so visitors can touch and feel for themselves a true imprint of Walter’s skin. Johnson said she also plans to create replicas of the bones so the replicas can be pieced together and displayed while the real, heavy rock fossils remain safe in a temperature controlled environment.

The Craig Press was given access Tuesday to CNCC’s paleontology lab. Inside there were some of the rarest fossils in the world, at least one of which the Craig Press was not allowed to photograph until research is complete. Huge plaster molds formed to safely extradite the ancient fossils lay on almost every open surface in the room.

The room is any future paleontologist’s dream come true, and Johnson wants those young dinosaur dreamers in the Yampa Valley to know their dreams are coming closer to reality.

“The cool thing is the students get to work on this,” Johnson said of her student team’s painstaking cleaning of Walter’s fossilized bones.

“That normally doesn't happen at the undergraduate level, let alone a community college,” said Kathy Simpson, a retired science faculty member at CNCC and “an awesome scientist,” according to Johnson.

But, Walter isn’t the only specimen in CNCC’s collection that students will get their hands on. Johnson plans to unearth many more bones in Moffat County this summer with the help of a special summer camp for dinosaur diggers.

For a little less than $1,000, aspiring paleontologists and fossil lovers can help CNCC add to its one-of-a-kind collection. The camp includes instruction, use of specialized tools, all camp supplies, meals, room, and board. Higher education geology credit is also offered through CNCC as part of the camp.

“This is just one specimen,” Johnson said. “We have lots of permits open this summer. We are going out again.”

For more information on Walter, CNCC’s rare fossil collection or to inquire about CNCC’s summer dinosaur dig, call 970-824-1119 or email elizabeth.johnson@cncc.edu.

Moffat County, Rio Blanco students assist CPW deer research

The health of mule deer herds in Northwestern Colorado has been the subject of a special Colorado Parks and Wildlife research project since 2008.

Recently, students from Moffat and Rio Blanco counties lent a hand to capture and study mule deer south of Meeker.

Moffat County High School senior Johnathon Macks shared his photos of the day, and CPW Mammals Research Leader Chuck Anderson took the time to explain more about what researchers,  volunteers were doing and why.

Craig Press: What was done?
Chuck Anderson: We used helicopter net-gunning to capture 80 adult female mule deer to assist with a long-term research project addressing mule deer and energy development interactions. This project was initiated in 2008 and will end in December 2019.

Why is the research being done?
To address mule deer responses to energy development activity and develop “best management practices” to inform future development planning to benefit wintering mule deer populations.

What equipment was used?
GPS radio-collars collecting precise locations every five hours and stored on the collar were replaced with temporary VHF radio collars that can only be tracked from the ground or aircraft. Collars were replaced so that habitat use patterns could be evaluated for the last year of the study. Captured deer received transmitters to allow birth detections in the spring, where field crews will be directed to newborn fawns to attach expandable collars for monitoring their survival over summer. We used portable ultrasound equipment to measure late winter body fat/condition and determine pregnancy and fetal rates — the number of fawns per doe. Body measurements and weights were also documented.

Who assisted?
CPW personnel assigned to the project, from Area 6 and our state capture vet and capture technician; high school students from Meeker and Craig, and Mule Deer Foundation members from Rifle.

How did it go?
The capture went well.  Snow conditions and temperatures were good to excellent for helicopter capture efforts and no significant injuries or moralities were documented.

Editor’s note: Moffat County High School senior Johnathon Macks assisted CPW and contributed the photos for this story. Craig Press will have a longer story about the research in future editions. 

Five minutes with the SROs: Snow day!

Hazardous road conditions closed Moffat County’s public schools for the first time in more than 30 years Thursday, March 14.

Before spending their snow day on other projects, School Resource Officers Ryan Fritz and Nathan Businger recounted their role in ensuring student safety during the potent winter storm that moved through Northwest Colorado on Wednesday.

Craig Press: What caused the school district to delay transportation for students living outside Craig on Wednesday?

Ryan Fritz: Transportation wasn't an issue in the morning. The storm didn't start blowing until late morning. It wasn't so much the snow; we had gotten through that before. When County Road and Bridge was unable to keep the roads open, that’s when transportation became dangerous. Students were safe at school. We had heat, electricity, food, and Wi-Fi.

When did you first become aware that the storm might impact student safety?

Fritz: Once I started hearing that highways were closing, that's when I started calling transportation — the district — and talking. In the afternoon, we were scrambling a little to decide what to do with kids that lived out of town in places like Maybell and Sunbeam.

How were students and school staff reacting to the storm and developing emergency situation?

Nathan Businger: It was a very normal day at Craig Middle School. By noon, we had a plan in place. If they needed to stay the night, we had staffing. The school had food made up for students that were potentially going to be left at the school. Shelter was also arranged.

How were students and parents notified?

Fritz: At about 3 p.m., we called all students that live outside the city limits into the auditorium. We divided them into groups — students that ride and students that drive or are picked up. We explained to them the road conditions and closures — that travel was dangerous. The high school had a plan to get information from each kiddo. Some kiddos were allowed, by parent permission, to go home with family friends. This was approved of by parents.

Businger: Just after lunch, the administration (at the middle school) got with all the teachers and set up the process. We met in the auditorium and learned who rides the bus or who normally gets you from school. Then, we released kids as buses arrived or parents came to get them. Buses arrived pretty much on time.

When were students released?

Fritz: When I left at 5 p.m., we had two kiddos that the district transported out to Maybell. A bus driver took them in a 4-wheel drive. We had two kiddos at Sunset Elementary School waiting for their father to make it up Highway 13 from the mine. And one kiddo was waiting at the high school for mom to get off work.

Businger: All our students were safely out of the school by about 4:05. It was a 25-minute process that went very smoothly.

What about students at the other schools?

Fritz: They were all able to get students home without additional help from us.

What made the process go so well?

Fritz: The partnership. We've worked well together now for a while through all the leadership changes. I’ve been there for five years, and it helped to know what we've done in the past and what we needed to get done. The kids knowing and trusting me makes a big difference. As always, student safety is top priority. If we believed we needed to send kids home, we would have sent kids home.

Did you know the schools would be closed on Thursday for a snow day?

Fritz: We didn't make that decision. I was kind of surprised. I figured the County Road and Bridge would get out this morning, but the wind didn't die down in time. There were still too many roads closed in the morning. Student safety is the number-one priority, so if that's what Dr. (David) Ulrich and administrators decided, we stand behind it. If they had decided to hold school, we would have stood behind that decision. That’s part of our strong partnership. They don't question us on law enforcement; we don't question them on school stuff.

What were some lessons learned?

Businger: I want to remind guardians to keep contact information updated with the school district. We try to contact guardians and emergency contacts, and we find the information isn't always valid, or voicemail boxes are full. Also, if you get a message from the school. read or listen to the entire message. It's important to obtain all the information prior to calling with questions. This can be done in the convenience of your home at moffatsd.org.

Fritz: The first point of contact in an emergency is the school of the child. The people that really know what’s going on are the secretaries. They’re your go-to person. Administrators are really busy in those time with day-to-day operations and decision-making. At some point, we'll have conversations about what went right (and) what we could do better. We also had some conversations last night. Had we not come up with a plan, we would have had 100 kids and no plan. Better to over plan and not need the effort than to under plan and have to pull something out of your brain at the last second.

Businger: At no point did I feel the middle school was not prepared. I felt they were well-prepared for the entire event. That includes communication with law enforcement, schools, and parents.

Fritz: I would say that of the entire district. Activating the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) was helpful. It brought everyone that needed to be communicating in one place at one time. They could make those decisions without making a bunch of phone calls.

What are you doing on your snow day?

Fritz: I’m working some patrol hours. Nathan gets to flex some time off.

Yampa Valley nonprofits offer multiple scholarships to Moffat County High School seniors

Editor’s Note: Scholarship listings are compiled from information provided by Moffat County High School and other organizations. Unless other instructions are provided, visit MCHS Counselor Paula Duzik or call her at 970-824-7036 for more information and applications.

Deadlines are fast approaching for scholarships offered by a number of nonprofit organizations in the Yampa Valley.

Due in March

• March 26 — Craig Kiwanis is offering several scholarships to seniors and current college students.

• March 26 — The family of Sarah Fleming and the Craig Kiwanis Club are offering the Sarah Fleming Memorial Scholarship to seniors.

• March 29 — Moffat County 4-H Foundation is offering scholarships to seniors and current college students who have participated in 4-H and/or FFA.

• March 29 — The Family of Franklin "Pud" Stetson is offering a $1,500 memorial scholarship to a senior or current college student who participated in 4-H and/or FFA, has a 3.0 or higher grade point average, and plans to pursue a degree in agricultural or business.

• March 29 — PEO Chapter AJ is offering two $1,000 scholarships to senior girls.  

• March 29 — Moffat County Sheriff's Office is offering one $1,000 scholarship to seniors.  

• March 29 — Colorado County Clerks Association is offering scholarships to seniors.

• March 29 — Northwest Colorado Snowmobile Club is offering one $1,000 scholarship to seniors.

• March 30 — Associated Builders and Contractors Rocky Mountain Chapter is offering four scholarships to students pursuing a career in construction. For more information or to obtain an application, visit abcrmc.org/bob-piper-scholarship.

• March 31 — Bears Ears Sportsman Club and Yampa Valley Friends of the NRA and Bears Ears Sportsman Club are offering scholarships to seniors who have been involved in shooting sports.

Due in April

• April 1 — Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition is holding a crane-inspired creative arts contest for seniors and is accepting entries in three categories — writing, poetry, other artistic media — with a total of $5,000 in scholarships to be awarded to winners. The work must be original and accurately reflect the physical characteristics, behavior, and habitat of greater sandhill cranes. CCCC will accept only one entry per student. To learn more or enter, visit coloradocranes.org/programs-2/creative-arts-contest/.

Additional scholarship opportunities

studentscholarships.org and scholarships.com continuously update scholarship opportunities.

collegexpress.com offers several scholarships to seniors.

• Students interested in attending a trade school can apply for an Imagine America Scholarship at imagine-america.org/applyforscholarships.

• To learn more about financial aid, visit collegecovered.com.

Does your organization or school have scholarships available for students? Send scholarship information to Education Reporter Sasha Nelson at snelson@CraigDailyPress.com, or call 970-875-1794.

Yampa Valley’s new solar co-op wants you to join the club

Craig and Moffat County residents who've thought about going solar might get their chance to join a new, burgeoning solar co-op this week.

The new Yampa Valley Solar Co-op will host public information sessions Wednesday and Thursday, March 13 and 14, in cities across the Western Slope.

The co-op plans to hold an information session in Craig at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion.

According to a news release, the co-op will be working in conjunction with nonprofit Solar United Neighbors of Colorado and Solar Energy International, the latter of which will provide solar job training to four lucky Moffat and Routt county residents.

The deadline to apply and be considered for the training is Friday, March 15.

"The solar co-op is free to join, and joining is not a commitment to purchase panels," said Ben Delman, communications director for Solar United Neighbors, in a news release. "Once the group is large enough, about 25 members, the co-op will solicit bids through an open an competitive process. Solar co-op members will review the bids the group receives and select one installer to serve the group. Co-op members review their bids individually to decide if going solar is right for them."

From there, co-op members will make the choice of which company will be used to install their panels, according to the news release.

"Co-op members will select a single company to complete all of the installations," according to the news release. "They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer's group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save off the cost of going solar and have the guidance from the experts at Solar United Neighbors."

The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council is also on board with the new co-op's creation.

"I am very excited about the launch of SUN's solar co-op in the Yampa Valley," said Sarah Jones, executive director of the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. "The co-op model allows for more affordable solar, greater distributed energy in the valley, and a way for individuals to take climate action into their own hands."

According to a flyer for the co-op information sessions, sponsors of the events include the Colorado Renewable Energy Society, Alpine Bank, and New Energy Colorado.

For questions or more information, email COteam@solarunitedneighbors.org or visit solarunitedneighbors.org/yampavalley.

Contact Clay Thorp at 970-875-1795 or cthorp@craigdailypress.com.

Moffat County theater examines love, life, pleasure, pain in ‘The Giver’

The vibrant red of a piece of fruit. The cool thrills of a sled ride through fresh snow. The ear-splitting terror of audio from wartime explosions.

These brief sensory experiences are something modern society might take for granted, but for someone who’s been numb to virtually everything, they can be completely life-altering.

Therein lies the many messages of the Moffat County High School spring play, “The Giver.”

The MCHS theater department presents Eric Coble’s stage adaptation of Lois Lowry’s young adult novel with shows this week at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as well as a 1:30 p.m. Saturday matinee at MCHS, 900 Finley Lane. Tickets are $7 apiece.

The production depicts a futuristic community in which certain parts of life are simplified — the climate never changes, all members serve assigned functions, children are conceived with surrogates and placed with approved families.

Altogether, choices and emotions are minimal and rules are many.

A young member of this pleasant yet passionless place, Jonas (Sambu Shrestha), is on the verge of being given the job he’ll perform for the rest of his life.

But, he’s quite dumbfounded when he learns his new role will be as the Receiver of Memory, a unique career that will require solitude and special training from the current holder of the position (Maria Sanchez-Silva).

His new instructor promptly opens his eyes to exhilarating memories of the past, but with those come Jonas’s realization of how none of the people around him have any knowledge of how the world used to be. For that matter, the more he learns, the more he comes to see just how flawed his home is.

The play is the final show for Shrestha, an MCHS senior.

“It’s pretty thrilling. because you want to go out with a bang,” he said. “I’m definitely appreciating that it’s a really bizarre experience.”

His role is nearly the polar opposite from Ponyboy Curtis, Shrestha’s starring role in last year’s “The Outsiders.” While Jonas is arguably more intelligent than the average adolescent, he is far more sheltered and naive and unaware of pain beyond a skinned knee.

“Each day with The Giver is something new, and just to experience it all is a little much for him,” he said.

As the title character, Sanchez-Silva portrays an aging beacon of wisdom, whose only job is to carry the burden of knowing how life used to be — good and bad. And, though the Receiver of Memory is meant to be a valued part of the community’s leadership, they have little say in most of its operations.

Still, with training someone new, hope endures that the next generation will be able to change minds.

“Giving the emotions to Jonas, that gives him the ability to go out and create more opportunities in the community,” she said.

Playing a part that is written as male in Lowry’s book and the 2014 film adaptation provides a new twist, Sanchez-Silva added.

“I think it gives it a different perspective,” she said.

Among the downsides of Jonas’s world is that people no longer have a perception of color. All costumes are black, gray and white, though the young protagonist begins to see new hues as part of his awakening.

That’s where the Moffat County lighting and sound crew comes in, as the technical elements of the play allow the audience to share the rush of excitement that comes when Jonas takes on new memories, with bursts of crimson, visions of snow, and more.

“It’s really our job to bring everything to life,” said crew member Hunter Petree. “War is a big one, we have explosions, flashing red lights, it’s all really intense, and we try to enhance that. We’re experimenting with a new kind of mold that gives us a rainbow. It’s nothing too exciting for some people on the outside, but it’s all new for us.”

Grace Pomeleo, the show’s director and MCHS’s theater and music teacher, said she considers the tech crew a “lead role” with how they boost everything happening onstage from the booth.

“It’s a huge creative challenge, but I think it’ll be really exciting for the audience to see how those things are pulled off,” she said.

Between the visual and audio and acting talents, it all comes together to present a debate — safety with many restrictions versus a riskier but richer life.

“The main conversation is, ‘Is it worth not having pain in life if you also don’t have joy?'” Pomeleo said. “It’s about being able to make choices, sometimes right sometimes wrong, but it’s all part of life.

Last chance: Final reminder to apply for scholarships with applications due mid-March

Editor’s note: Scholarship listings are compiled from information provided by Moffat County High School and other organizations. Unless other instructions are provided, visit MCHS Counselor Paula Duzik or call her at 970-824-7036 for more information and applications.

Due in March

• March 15 — Colorado Garden Foundation is offering one full, four-year scholarship to a senior attending a Colorado college and majoring in an agriculture-related field.

• March 15 — Colorado Masons is offering the Colorado Masons’ Benevolent Fund Scholarship to seniors. Amounts vary but can be up to $7,000 per year and renewable. Visit cmbfa.org for an application and information.

• March 15 — Craig Rotary Club is offering four $1,000 scholarships to seniors.

• March 20 — American Public Works Association West Slope Branch is accepting scholarship applications from students planning to study biology (emphasis in public sector), civil engineering, drafting, environmental, construction management, construction inspection, landscape architecture, structural engineering, geology, G.I.S./data management, vo-tech/trade school, surveying, public administration, and traffic engineering. Additional information and the application is available at colorado.apwa.net/pagedetails/17533.

• March 26 — Craig Kiwanis is offering several scholarships to seniors and current college students.

• March 26 — The family of Sarah Fleming and Craig Kiwanis is offering the Sarah Fleming Memorial Scholarship to seniors.

• March 29 — Moffat County 4-H Foundation is offering scholarships to seniors and current college students who have participated in 4-H and/or FFA.

• March 29 — The Family of Franklin "Pud" Stetson is offering a $1,500 memorial scholarship to a high school senior or current college students who participated in 4-H and/or FFA, has a 3.0 or higher grade point average, and will be pursuing a degree in agricultural or business.

• March 29 — PEO Chapter AJ is offering two $1,000 scholarships to senior girls.  

• March 29 — Moffat County Sheriff's Office is offering one $1,000 scholarship to seniors.  

• March 29 — Colorado County Clerks Association is offering scholarships to seniors.

• March 29 — Northwest Colorado Snowmobile Club is offering one $1,000 scholarship to seniors.

• March 30 — Associated Builders and Contractors Rocky Mountain Chapter is offering four scholarships to students pursuing a career in construction. For more information and to obtain an application visit abcrmc.org/bob-piper-scholarship.

• March 31 — Bears Ears Sportsman Club and Yampa Valley Friends of the NRA and Bears Ears Sportsman Club are offering scholarships to seniors who have been involved in shooting sports.

More scholarship opportunities

studentscholarships.org and scholarships.com continuously update scholarship opportunities.

collegexpress.com offers several scholarships to seniors.

• Students interested in attending a trade school can apply for an Imagine America Scholarship at imagine-america.org/applyforscholarships.

• Visit collegecovered.com to learn more about financial aid.

Does your organization or school have scholarships available for students? Send scholarship information to Education Reporter Sasha Nelson at snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or call 970-875-1794.

CNCC nursing program led by alumnus

It was a bit of luck that connected Erica Yantzer to Colorado Northwestern Community College.

Though she had been living in Steamboat Springs and Craig for many years, her plan was to attend nursing school in Rock Springs, Wyoming, where she could stay with family during her studies. But, a radio advertisement announcing the addition of a nursing program at CNCC caught her ear and changed her path.

Yantzer began nursing school with the start of CNCC’s nursing program in 2003. She graduated with the first nursing class in 2005.

Yantzer fondly recalled classmates and mentors Marilyn Bolden and Marilyn Hehr. She laughed that the class motto was “nothing is set in stone,” a nod to the fact that new programs tend to change as they develop. Her graduating class presented faculty with a piece of sandstone with the motto written on it in marker.

After graduation, Yantzer began her career as a public health nurse in a prenatal plus program that provided young mothers with education and guidance to help them access the resources needed to raise a healthy child and maintain their own health. Because her drive to become a nurse began with a desire to work in OB/labor and delivery, Yantzer moved on to work at The Memorial Hospital in Craig, both in the OB department and the medical/surgical units.

Her career path led to OB work in Montrose and Glenwood Springs, long term care in Steamboat, and finally, back to CNCC as a nursing instructor. As her career developed, Yantzer earned a master’s degree in nursing from Walden University.

At CNCC, Yantzer began as a part-time instructor, moved into a full-time instructor position, and now directs the nursing program. This semester, she is also teaching courses in the program.

Asked what is special about CNCC’s nursing program, Yanzer touted the high level of care instructors invest in their students.

“Instructors provide a lot of one-on-one attention,” Yantzer said. “Faculty genuinely care about students, and they take into account the life circumstances of each student.”

Speaking of the students, Yantzer said she admires their perseverance and resiliency.

“Their strength is unreal,” she exclaimed. “These students have so much going on in their lives, and they just keep going.”

The most difficult part of the nursing program is the workload.

“This program is all-consuming,” Yantzer said. “It is very difficult to balance the needs of your personal life with the demands of nursing school. The plus side is that you develop bonds with your classmates that are lifelong, and you get a life-changing career.”

Asked what is next for the CNCC nursing program, Yantzer said it is expanding.

“We are growing to include larger classes so we can meet the needs of our communities. We will also be adding the BSN program, with the target start date set for fall 2020. I am hoping that, as we grow, we will see other alumni come back to CNCC to teach.”

The CNCC nursing program has many partners in Northwest Colorado, including Memorial Regional Health, Yampa Valley Medical Center, Veterans Affairs and Saint Mary’s in Grand Junction, the Steamboat Group, Northwest Colorado Health, local schools, and others. New partnerships are being worked out as the program expands.

Asked what she loves most about being director of the nursing program, Yantzer said it is the challenge.

“This job challenges me every day. I have a strong belief that, if you are not uncomfortable, you are not growing,” Yantzer said. “I am growing. I also love having the opportunity to advance my career. There are no barriers.”

Yantzer said she has never believed in barriers. She had five children younger than age 8 when she attended nursing school. She now has seven children and two grandchildren and is seriously considering starting work toward a doctorate in nursing.

To learn more about the nursing program at CNCC, contact Darby McDermott at 970-824-1104 or darby.mcdermott@cncc.edu .

Sue Samaniego is the director of Colorado Northwestern Community College Foundation. She writes a regular newsletter to donors and has agreed to share stories about CNCC students and programs with the Craig Press. Contact Samaniego at 970-675-3216 or sue.samaniego@cncc.edu.