Erin Steger comes full circle with position at Boys & Girls Club of Craig
For the Craig Press
At the age of 8, Erin Steger felt a sense of loneliness without a sibling by her side, a problem that was remedied thanks to the after-school program that got her more peer interaction than she could have expected.
Now, a decade-and-a-half later, she’s back in the same place and ready to provide that same sense of belonging for the kids of Moffat County.
Steger began this summer as the program director for Boys & Girls Club of Craig, fulfilling her return to the place that she found a great deal of happiness in her childhood.
As the only child of Lee and Kathy Fagan, Steger said she had a pleasant family life, though the lack of a brother or sister left her feeling alone more often than not.
However, once her mother signed her up to attend the local branch of Boys & Girls Club, she suddenly had far more kids around her age with whom she could interact.
“I felt like I had a family here, 95 brothers and sisters running around with me,” Steger said.
She added that it was at the Craig club that she learned basic social skills she felt she was lacking.
Still able to recall her club registration number from way back when — 1264 — Steger said she only found more benefits to her membership as she got older, including as a junior staff member.
“My family’s great, both my mom and dad, but the Boys & Girls Club was my main backbone for some things. You don’t always want to tell your mom about boy problems,” she said. “Even doing the Youth of the Year stuff in high school, I don’t know if I would have been able to pass some of my speech classes in college if I didn’t have that experience.”
Steger said she challenged herself her senior year at Moffat County High School by working with a different set of ages.
“I had told myself, ‘I don’t like middle-schoolers, I don’t like high-schoolers, I’m going to stick to 6-year-olds.’ But then I started working with teens,” she said.
Lengthy conversations with a fellow club member experiencing familial strife helped her develop her compassion.
“She would just sit there and cry and we’d talk about it, and that was really rewarding being able to make a difference in her life,” Steger said.
Steger graduated from MCHS in 2016 and promptly went on to study Rangeland Management and Livestock Production at Nebraska’s Chadron State College.
Besides being away from home for the first time, the major she thought was a “safe bet” wasn’t working out the way she’d expected, despite her enjoyment of agriculture and a youth spent participating in 4-H Club.
“I knew I wanted to work with animals, but I came to the realization that it’s more of my hobby not a job. 18 is a hard age to know what you want to do with the rest of your life,” she said.
By her sophomore year at Chadron, Steger knew she needed a change and reached out to a familiar presence.
“She called me when she was in college, kind of distraught, and said, ‘This isn’t working for me, I don’t know what to do, I want to do what you do,’” said Dana Duran, executive director for Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Colorado.
Duran helped Steger determine new career goals, which included changing her educational focus to Family and Consumer Sciences-Child Studies, earning her diploma this May.
Still, there were some difficulties in determining where she wanted to go with it.
“I knew that I wanted to work with kids, but I didn’t necessarily want to be a teacher,” Steger said. “I had my whole life planned, I was going to stay in Chadron and stay there the rest of my life. But there weren’t a lot of job opportunities there.”
However, she and her then-fiancé Kyle — whom she wed this July — touched base with connections in Craig, as he gained a job at Masterworks Mechanical, and she found a potential job at Boys & Girls Club.
“I was kind of working with the school district and Boys & Girls Club this year. We were doing gym, science and art for summer school up at the old East Elementary building,” she said. “I stepped into the program director job in August, which was crazy because that was my main career goal. I definitely didn’t think it would happen this fast.”
Duran said she was pleased to be able to bring Steger back to the club, and she has been a reliable staff member.
“She’s making a difference every single day in the lives of our Craig kids and doing a phenomenal job meeting them where they are,” Duran said. “She brings so much energy and so many new ideas. She was a club kid and knows what it’s like to have staff that care about you. We’re really lucky to have her onboard. She’s kind and giving in her nature. She’s a woman in service of others. She’s funny and the kids really connect with her.”
Along with coworker Tanya Ferguson, Steger oversees activities like SPARK Program, Healthy Habits, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math).
She is also passionate about leading Pathfinders, a version of Boys & Girls Club’s national SMART Girls program.
“I take all the teen girls, and we talk about school, relationships and how hard it is growing up,” Steger said.
Steger said her history in the region has made her role as program director easier, such as relating to the club members, parents and junior staff, whose daily concerns she understands, good or bad.
“With coal being so up in the air, a lot of the kiddos are stressed out because their parents are stressed out, and I know what they’re going through,” she said. “We have a couple kids that do fair, and I try to support them in every aspect. It’s easier to build connections with those kids that do 4-H and go hunting and fishing, because I do a lot of those things still.”
Steger has been an avid hunter for much of her life, including bagging a memorable six-point buck in 2018.
She also was successful in the harvest as part of the third season of this year’s hunting window.
“He’s nothing like what I’ve shot in the past, but it’s still a big family thing for us,” she said. “My main thing is the family bonding that it brings. When I got my elk a couple years ago, my mom was there, my cousin was there. During third season, my husband’s nephews came out, and it was really cool to see Kyle get into it and be excited about it and teach his nephews about it, that generation-to-generation thing. When I have kids, I’m definitely going to instill in them that yes, this is fun, but it’s also supporting your family and we can do it all together.”
Steger said that while she hadn’t started adulthood with plans to be in Craig, it certainly feels right.
“I was very hesitant about coming back, but now that I’m back I feel like I picked up right where I left off,” she said.
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