20 Under 40: Tiffany Ripkoski-Taylor shows loving spirit, kind heart with work for Horizons

Andy Bockelman
For Craig Press
Tiffany Ripkoski-Taylor provides a big grin outside Horizons Specialized Services’ Moffat County office. Ripkoski-Taylor has a passion for enriching the lives of people with special needs and previously performed similar services while with Moffat County School District. (Andy Bockelman / For Craig Press)

It takes a kind and caring person to make a connection with a child or adult with special needs. And, Tiffany Ripkoski-Taylor certainly fits into that skill set.

With a high capacity for love and a patient, compassionate nature that she brings to her work with Horizons Specialized Services.

A background working with students in special education for Moffat County School District helped her find a position with the nonprofit organization. Ripkoski-Taylor found a perfect fit aiding the mission of Horizons, which works to coordinate services for individuals with learning disabilities and their families and enhance their lives.

Besides working toward a noble purpose, raising a daughter in the same community where she grew up helps makes each day fulfilling.

What is on your playlist? I am such a music junkie. My favorite stations right now are Reggaeton, Outlaw Country, EDM, and ’90s hip-hop.

Describe yourself in 3 words. Smiley, happy, affectionate.

Best book you have read? I loved “The Giver” series by Lois Lowry. I’ve read them all multiple times!

What’s your favorite go-to local dish? I have a favorite dish at each of the restaurants in town! But, there is a special place in my heart for Vallarta’s fajitas and queso.

What is it about Moffat County that sticks out to you when you think of home? I love Moffat County! It has always been my home and felt like home to me. My wonderful family is here and I’m so proud to be raising my daughter in Craig. I love the people and the warm, safe atmosphere Craig provides. What really sticks out for me when I think of Craig are the sagebrush-filled empty lots around the top of Finley Lane and the Sandrocks. I spent my whole childhood building forts, jumping bikes and rappelling off of the rock faces and exploring the nooks and crannies there. I loved growing up here in Craig. I hope when my daughter grows up, she will feel this way about Moffat County as well.

What are you most proud of when it comes to your personal or professional accomplishments here? I was blessed to work for Moffat County School District for 16 years and started when I was 19 as a teacher’s aide. Later I became a one-on-one paraprofessional, working with students with special needs. It was there that I discovered my passion for folks with special needs. From there I took online college courses and received a dual bachelor’s degree as a special needs generalist, and in elementary education. I loved being a teacher and spending time with the students of Moffat County. Each graduation filled my heart with joy watching these students walk/wheel across the stage and receive their hard-earned diplomas. Being a special needs teacher led the way to my current job and passion at Horizons Specialized Services. I love my job! I love getting to see these pure-hearted folks every day, and I love them like family, even from afar with COVID-19. I’m so proud of the work we do here to care for these wonderful individuals and provide them with the happiest and best quality of life that we can. It’s a wonderful feeling to know you are making someone else’s life better.

How do you hope to grow both personally and professionally in 2021? I hope to continue to build relationships with community members and bring awareness to what Horizons Specialized Services actually is and what we do. Also, I hope to make sure that the wonderful people of Moffat County know how much the individuals we serve here appreciate their support and love. I feel very, very blessed to live in this community and to have so many connections that have turned into friendships.

What is the best business advice you have ever received? The best business advice I have ever received is, “Don’t take it personally.” People have moments of stress, and it may not have anything to do with you. Just listen and nod. Also, always make sure to get the bid first.

With people looking to move out of the city and into smaller communities, what advice would you give to those 40 and under moving to Moffat County? My advice to people moving into Moffat County is to not expect it to be like the city. Craig is mellow and slow-paced but just as fun! Be sure you like to be outdoors and that you don’t mind the cold. Always give your car a good 15 to 20 minutes to warm up in the winter. If there is an outdoor activity in particular you like to do, guaranteed you can find it to do within a two-hour driving distance. It’s our own little paradise here. Finally, just simply enjoy!

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