CNCC bringing rodeo and agriculture programs to Craig campus |

CNCC bringing rodeo and agriculture programs to Craig campus

New athletic team and educational programs should arrive from Rangely next fall

Colorado Northwestern Community College's Craig campus.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

Colorado Northwestern Community College is poised to bring a new program to the Craig campus that will fit right into the Moffat County landscape.

In a meeting with the Moffat County commissioners Thursday, college president Lisa Jones confirmed that CNCC wants to move the rodeo and the agriculture business programs to the Craig campus.

“As you know, (Rodeo) has been in Rangely — as has equine and ag business. I have no idea why it was ever there,” Jones said. “When I first came here, (moving rodeo and agriculture) was the first thing I saw that needed to happen. I think (moving) soccer came on board not by anything related to enrollment or any of those; it was all students’ success factors. The soccer program could be at either place.”

Though the Craig campus will no longer host the men’s and women’s soccer teams, Jones said that moving rodeo and agriculture business to the community shouldn’t be seen as a trade in programs. Since many of the soccer players came from out of state or from other areas, they weren’t getting the same quality of freshmen services that students in Rangely get. Many of them don’t have vehicles, Jones said, and since the Craig campus is not within walking distance to where they were being housed, that had become a problem. Other issues caused problems with student success and safety, and Jones said she was not willing to sacrifice those to keep the teams in Craig.

Rodeo, however, would have more support from the community, Jones said, and, to the college president, it makes much more sense to have rodeo and agriculture students in Craig than in Rangely — though it’s a decision that she said has not been popular among the Rangely community.

Jones said that Craig’s local economy and culture is much more suited to support students looking to be educated in agriculture. Rodeo and agriculture students in Rangely are more likely to ask to not be required to live on campus since many have housing as ranch hands or on family ranches.

“You got ranches here, and we can’t look at just farming, we look at ranching,” she said. “If you can kind of educate that next generation where parents can feel like they’re expanding and they’re growing, they’re creating wealth and opportunity and passing along to their kids. That’s something to be really proud of… If we can offer a course, or we can offer a certificate or an associate’s or even a pathway to the bachelor’s degree, then that’s what we want to do.”

Tammy Olsen, the current coach for the rodeo team at CNCC, is excited about the potential opportunities that could come from the move. In a community that is already so ranch-driven, kids who are already exposed to that lifestyle will get to learn the business side of their families’ operations, as well. Olsen said that finding gaps in the community’s needs will be a driving force about which specific programs could be formed in the future, whether it’s sheep shearing, meat processing or horse shoeing.

In short, Olsen said she wants to bring a winning team with a winning mindset to the Craig community.

“There are so many people out there that want to help these kids because they want to see more kids coming on. But a huge part of what I want to do with this is local kids and bring kids in to really work with that winning mentality,” Olsen said. “We work on the physical. That’s why we need access, in their scheduling in the indoor arena, which we’re looking at is kind of our starter set and progressing, in time, into our own arena. But then the mindset — that’s where you win.”

Olsen added that she and many students who pursue rodeo sports grew up around it, but it doesn’t mean that kids who did not grow up with an agriculture background will be left out of learning. Olsen said she hopes to host clinics for younger people wanting to learn the ropes.

The plan as of Thursday was for the team and agriculture business program to arrive in Craig next fall, but it will take planning as to when and where the team will practice, as rodeo facilities in Moffat County often have contracts and leases to host regional rodeo events during the season.

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