Tracy Hill

Tracy Hill


Tracy Hill

National High School Hall of Famer


Story by Kathryn R. Burke

Tracy Hill[Nucla, Colo. October 16, 2012] Tracy Hill made Colorado basketball history while playing for Ridgway High School (where her father still coaches today) She was top scorer between 1980 and 1983, setting the record for career points scored She set 21 state marks; 17 still stand. Hill went on to play at university, then played professionally in Australia where she was named Tasmania Player of the Year. She returned to Nucla to coach, guiding her team to the 1998 team title. She lives in Nucla today with her husband, the school’s athletic director, and her seven-year old son. Hill is working on her PhD in Education.

Hill was inducted into the NHS Hall of Fame in July. “Though I may have been the one who was inducted,” she said, “I dedicate the recognition to Ridgway and the school community because “they” (parents, community members, school staff, students, and notably, teammates) were and still are “the heart of” what I value and stand for today.”

The National Federation of State High School Associations established its Hall of Fame in 1982, to honor athletes, coaches, officials, administrators and other school activity directors for their achievements at the high school level. Hill is one of 12 honorees this year.


Tracy Hill lives with her family in Nucla, Colorado.

The slideshow (PowerPoint) was designed by Kathryn R. Burke for Tracy’s presentation to the Women’s Club of Ouray County.


Julia Vann

Julia Vann

Julia Vann

Success started early for this young ‘Uncommon Woman’


Story by Kathryn R. Burke

Julia Vann[Ouray Colo., January 17, 2017]  Julia Vann graduated from Ouray High School in 2015 and got a full ride to Amherst College in Massachusetts, where she is a math major.

“It’s kind of funny,” she said, “because I hated math until I took Calculus. I discovered I had a knack for it, and decided to major in math in college.” Based on her GPA, extracurricular activities, work experience, etc., she was offered the local and regional scholarships.

Julia’s long-term goal is to obtain a PhD in math or public health. The field that interests her most is Quantitative Public Health or Biomath with public health applications. “It’s kind of a niche profession,” she said. “And it’s burgeoning right now.”

What exactly is Quantitative Public Health? “The profession uses math to answer public health questions,” she explained. “We use math models to help get funding for studies to model cell growth or the transmission of diseases. Models mimic real life—for example, maybe finding the quickest way to eradicate tuberculosis in developing countries.”

Julia’s interest in studying about disease and finding cures began in middle and senior high school, when she thought about becoming a medical doctor. But as she learned more about what that entailed, she realized public health was where she really wanted to be. “I thought doctors did more of what public health specialists do,” she explained. “And public health is the field that really interests me.”

At Amherst, Julia is a math major, but because of the college’s open curriculum, she can take any subject she likes, “so long as I complete eight major classes before my senior year. I’m taking dance, astronomy sociology—all kinds of interesting classes. Every semester, I try something different. I’m a math major, but I’m also a ‘Jack of all subjects.’”

The school and the community of Amherst have been great. “I love it, except for the lack of sun,” she said. “Western Massachusetts is rural. We have a lot of wildlife, and nature to explore. Yet, I’m only one and a half hours from Boston. I’d love to live in Boston in the future.”

Meanwhile, she’ll start looking at graduate schools in her junior year, and apply in her senior year. “I’d love to wind up at Harvard or Stanford,” she said.

With her track record so far, it’s a good bet Julia will realize her dreams, get into the graduate school she hopes to attend, and become a success in her chosen field.

Julia Vann lives in Ouray, Colorado with her family, when she is not attending university.

This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke

The U Valley Vixens

The UVV Derby Girls

The U Valley Vixens, Derby Girls

Rollin’ in from Montrose!


Story by Kathryn R. Burke

The U Valley Vixens[Montrose, Colo.  February 17, 2015]  Roller Derby is making a comeback in Colorado. Google the sport and you will find a number of Colorado teams, the most ‘notable’ probably being Denver Roller Dolls or Rocky Mountain Roller Girls, both based in Denver.

Here on the western slope, we have about six teams. Our home town Derby Girls, the U Valley Vixens (UVV), were founded last April and are coming up on their one-year anniversary. The UVV consists of 20 women, and they are looking for more members. A couple men have joined as referees. “It’s great exercise,” said UVV treasurer, Crystal Mullen, “and it’s so much fun.” The group welcomes women of all backgrounds and skill levels. Women must be 18 or over to participate. “We have women from their early 20s up into 50s. All are new to derby. For some, it’s their first time on skates since they were children. Derby is easy to pick up as you go. Most people come at it little to no experience.”

Roller Derby is an international contact sport dominated by all-female amateur teams. The sport originated in the 1930s and by 1940 more than five million spectators watched in about 50 US cities. Worldwide, it has continued to grow and by 2014 the Woman’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) had 301 member leagues and 92 Apprentice leagues. The sport is under consideration for the 2020 Olympics.

The U Valley VixensAs interest grows, more and more derby events are being scheduled. Locally, the UVV plan to participate in Rollin on the River, Montrose, this summer. Still in the planning stages, the event will feature a mix-up roster of skaters from different leagues. “It’s just a bunch of girls having fun,” Crystal declared. “And we hope to add a kind of a brewfest, except we will have more distillers than brewers, maybe call it Whiskey and Wings.”

The UVVs are looking for a permanent home, at least for the winter. Until the weather warms and they can practice at River Bottom Park, the team has been using Friendship Hall in Montrose. About the only available time is Sundays. “We need an airplane hanger or bigger building to rent through the winter months,” Crystal said.

Because it’s a contact sport, team members wear protective gear, including a helmet, elbow and knee pads, wrist guards, and a mouth guard. “Part of the training is to learn how to fall correctly,” Crystal explained. “There are a lot more rules than there were back in the 70s as far as how to contact a person. It’s not like wrestling.”

Two teams compete. Each team has two ‘jammers,’ the women who score points by skating past one of four ‘blockers’ from the opposing team. Each ‘jam’ lasts about two minutes, and each bout (comprised of multiple jams) is about 60 minutes. As for the team itself, “It’s a neat dynamic,” Crystal said. “We are a balance of team sportsmanship and individual skill and motivation.”

This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke

Winifred Tappan, author

Winifred Tappan

Winifred Tappan, author

“It’s never too late to follow your dream.”


Story and photos by Kathryn R. Burke

Winifred Tappan, author

[Montrose, Colo. November 17, 2016] Winifred ‘Wini’ Tappan is the new model for ‘You’re only as old as you feel.” Now  90 she is proof that “It’s never to late to follow a dream and change careers!  At her recent birthday celebration, Wini realized one dream, when she arrived (and departed) on a motorcycle. And danced to ‘Pretty Woman’ with a handsome escort.

A late bloomer, Wini went back to college when she was 50 and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. At 55, she earned her Master of Arts Degree. At age 87, Tappan published her first book. “In the process of putting together these three books,” she said, “I discovered that I really love to write and wish I had not waited so long to start.”

Wini Tappan on motocycle

Wini Tappan arrives at her 90th birthday party on a motocycle.

Wini remembers a professor in college telling her that she ought to get a paper published that she had written for his class. At the time it never occurred to her that this might be something she would enjoy doing as a career. And, now at age 89, she has recently authored book number three, A Pilot’s View of WWII, and is working on her fourth, Silent Voices, with letters written home by service men and women during WWII.

Her first book, Grappling with Government Abuse was written after she retired from teaching and explains her battle with Social Security (she won). It was written when she was 87. Her second book The Lactose Free Cookbook – Living Deliciously!, is the result of several years of dealing personally with a fairly severe lactose intolerance. But it is the third book, A Pilot’s View of WWII, where Wini’s ability as a writer, historian, and researcher really shines. The book has already gained national prominence!

A Pilot’s View of World War II came about during a project Wini began in Montrose, Colorado where she lives. She intended to interview different seniors who ate lunch in the Senior Center Dining Room every day, and then to contribute short write-ups to the Senior Scene (a monthly newsletter published by the Senior Center.) The first person she interviewed was Robert Boecking (pronounced ‘Becking’). “His story was so compelling,” she said, “I had to make it into a book.”

Boecking had kept a hand-written journal of the 36 missions he flew over Germany in 1944. Using that journal, and researching the now-vague memories of the pilot, she crafted a story of courage and camaraderie and the harrowing experiences faced by the crews of the 379th Bomb Squad, 8th Airforce, stationed in Kimbolton AFB, England during the war. The book is indexed and reinforced with cited references, a Mission Map, pages from the Mission Journal.

Wini is now working on book number four, Silent Voices, which focuses on letters written home by service men and women. She is asking that anyone having saved letters written home by family members who served during wartime share them with her for the next book. Winifred Tappan lives in Olathe, Colorado.

A Pilot’s View of WWII is published by San Juan Publishing Group, Inc. Learn more about the book on the website for A Pilot’s View of WWII.  The book is available at local bookstores and online at the San Juan Publishing Bookstore.

Winifred Tappan lives in Olathe, Colorado, where she is almost finished writing her next book.

Related articles and links
Winifred Tappan. FacebookLinkedInTwitter,
Website for the book. A Pilot’s View of WWII.
Website for book Grappling With Government Abuse, by Winifred Tappan: One Teacher’s Nightmare
‘Winifred Tappan helps AARP members stay active, informed’
By Caitlin Switzer. Montrose Press. Jun 20, 2005
‘Retired Teacher Takes on WEP/GPO’ National Education Association, Issues and Action.


This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke

Tammy Stroup,Ridgway CO Marshall

Tammy Stroup

Tammy Stroup, Ridgway Marshal

Tammy Cares

Story by Kathryn R. Burke


Tammy Stroup,Ridgway CO Marshall

Marhsal Tammy Stroup, Ridgway, Colo., with her dog Marley.

[Ridgway, Colo. November 15. 2017] Tammy Cares—those two words sum up this unique woman and perfectly describe her personal and professional worldview. Marshall Stroup’s door, like her mind, is always open.  “If you come in here,” Tammy says, “you will be heard. And you will be treated with respect.”

Respect and compassion.  Those are this marshall’s watchwords. Tammy is a compassionate woman—which makes her particularly effective in law enforcement.

Tammy’s journey into compassion began as a child.  She grew up in Montrose, Colorado, where she spent a lot of time on her grandparents’ sheep farm.  Many of us who live here know her grandmother, LaVonne (Blondie) Campbell, a lifelong sheep rancher and still very active in the Wool Growers Association here.  From her grandmother, who she calls her ‘lifelong mentor,’ Tammy learned to love and respect animals—and people.

Tammy studied biology in college, planning to go into veterinary medicine, but an incident when she was a young mother, living with her law-enforcement husband in Glenwood, changed her course.  She witnessed a domestic incident where the (victim?) woman was disrespectfully and harshly treated by the responding officers, resulting in personal injury. “It didn’t have to be that way,” she said.  “It doesn’t matter what your cultural or economic background, it doesn’t matter if you are a victim or the victimizer, accused or accuser, you deserve to be treated with respect.”

She cited a recent experience demonstrating how that works.  She was working at the District Attorney’s Office and called out to contact a man who she suspected had a warrant. “I ran him before contacting him,” she said. “And he did have a felony warrant. I called in for help (since I didn’t have a cage in my car), but was told there was  ‘no one available to respond.’”  (Another example of the difficulty female law-enforcement personnel face in a male-dominated profession.)  Tammy approached the man, who had children in the house, and very respectfully asked for his cooperation, so as not to disturb his family.  He complied.  “He got in his own car and followed me to Montrose County Jail, where I was able to pat him down and book him.”  Much to the consternation of those who thought she couldn’t handle the situation without appropriate backup. “One thing I’ve learned, like many other women in my profession, is that we have to work a little harder to prove ourselves. Being female in this kind of work can be excruciating.”

But it can also be rewarding.  “I truly love law enforcement,” Tammy said.  “It gives me a chance to help people, and that’s who I am, what I’m about.  I love to help people.”  Along the way, she mastered compassion as part of  “learning not to be judgmental.  You need to reach out to people, let them know you are there to help.”

After a death in the family, Tammy returned to Montrose with her two daughters: Kelsey, now 18 and with Western Colorado Regional Dispatch Center (WESTCO), and Hailey, a budding businesswoman. Tammy worked as an investigator with the District Attorney’s office in the 7th Judicial District (San Miguel, Ouray, Montrose, Delta, Hinsdale, and Gunnison counties), where she was an investigator. “I worked all kinds of cases,” she said, “from homicide to domestic abuse to various other kinds of crime.” She was there just shy of 10 years, rapidly rising to the position of Chief Investigator.

Tammy also put in some time (after leaving the DA’s office) with the Dolphin House, that helps children in distress or compromise.  That, too, arose from compassion, and a desire “to do the right thing for people.” While working on the front range, she was involved in a child abuse case, where “a grandfather was given custody of an 18-month- old child after the divorced mother’s new husband beat the child causing brain injury.”  Sadly, the child was returned to his mother after she and her husband went through parenting counseling.  Within a few months, the child was back in the hospital with a fatal brain injury, caused by the stepdad.  Tammy sat with that grandpa through the subsequent trial, and cried with him, helping him understand and accept that it was not his fault that the boy died.  Compassion is a big part of police work, and Tammy takes that to heart.

She also takes her family to heart.  Her husband, Billie Stroup, is a Sergeant in the Montrose PD.  Both her daughters are doing well and living in Montrose.  Grandma Blondie Campbell is nearby, and as big an influence today on Tammy’s 7-year-old son, Gage, as she was when Tammy was that same age. “They are my life,” she says simply.  That life also includes two dogs, a German Shepherd named Marley and a lab called Koda.  What goes around…

So, Tammy’s  journey from a Montrose County sheep ranch to a marshall in Ridgway, Colorado is a natural progression.  She’s been heading there since she was her son’s age.  Tammy’s doing what she loves, and doing it with care and compassion.  The sign on her office wall says: “Do what is right; not what is easy.”  Tammy does it right.

Tammy Stroup lives and her family live in Montrose Colorado. Her husband and daughter are also in law enforcement.

This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke

Ruth Stewart EMT

Ruth Stewart

Ruth Stewart, EMT & Mountain Rescue

The Rescue Woman.  Dangling by a Rope


Story by Kathryn R. Burke

Ruth Stewart EMT[Ouray, Colo.  October 21, 2014] Ruth Stewart is a Paramedic with OCEMS and a member of OMRT. To those of us who would ever need her services, in layman’s terms Ruth Stewart is a Paramedic with Ouray County Emergency Medical Services and member of the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team. Whatever you call her, whenever you call her, Ruth Stewart is definitely the woman you want when you have an emergency.

“Every emergency is different,” says Stewart, who trained in both EMS trauma and medical events. “It’s a little bit of a puzzle. You talk to people. Ask the right questions. It’s interesting work. There is always something new to learn and do.”

Ninety-nine percent of the time, calls are fairly mundane. “It’s that one percent of the calls when everything needs to happen five minutes ago that are the big adrenalin rush.” Stewart says. “You have to be very on-the-spot. You don’t have a lot of time to process information or ask questions. Those calls are ‘on-you-feet’ decision making, or if a S&R call, it could be ‘hanging-from-a-rescue-rope’ decisions.

Ruth Stewart RedMtnRescThe biggest calls are major trauma calls, such as a motorcycle accident, where every thing happens at once. Most calls, however, are related to minor injury or illness, perceived or real. The single biggest category of EMS calls, Stewart says, is “altitude stuff, tourists or older folks experiencing breathing and heart issues due to altitude.” EMTs can usually handle most minor incidents on the spot. Others must be transported to the hospital (Montrose) or, if very serious, to a medi-flight helicopter at a local landing zone such as Ouray Town Park, Ridgway Fairgrounds, Dallas Divide, or Yankee Boy Basin.”(There are 35-preplanned landing zones in our area.) From there, they can be flown to St. Mary’s in Grand Junction.

The EMT crew currently consists of 20 people, 11 based in Ridgway, four in Ouray, two on log Hill, plus three administrative/advanced life support folks. “When we’re scheduled to be on call, a 12 or 24 hour shift, we have to be within five minutes of the ambulance barn in either town.” Stewart explained. “We have four ambulances, including a high-clearance, back country ambulance, maintaining staffing for one in each town, so we can rotate them for maintenance.” Most team members are volunteers. Stewart is one of three who hold paid administrative positions. Not all members are local, so those—like the men who come up from Cortez or Montrose to cover some shifts, “hang out at the office or the ambulance barn when they’re on call.”

Search and Rescue is a whole different situation. OMRT has its own vehicles: a large heavy-duty pickup with a shell and winch and a land cruiser for back country. There are several women, and six S&R members are ‘crossover’ serving as both EMTs and S&R crew. S&R isn’t a scheduled shift, like EMT, Ruth explains. “When your pager goes off, if you can go, you go!” They get called out about 20 or so times a year on average, mostly in the summer. “This summer has been a year of ‘Just stay on the hiking trail’ with multiple calls for lost hikers; we usually just guide them back to the trail.” Winter calls are frequently ice-park related.

Stewart’s most serious S&R call this year was when a climber fell on Mt. Sneffels in the late afternoon. By the time she and her team had geared up and hiked in, after and helicopter reconnaissance had located the patient, it was dark. He was in a precarious spot, so three team members camped out with him, and the next morning, a military Black Hawk did a hoist-lift at 13,900 feet and got him out. He was then transferred to a medical flight. “We packed up, hiked over the mountain and back down. Pretty epic!” [Read related story here.] It was an amazing rescue.

“Recalling that incident and some others, Stewart said: “I really like the rescue end of what I do. Most of all I like the rope work, working with the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team doing high angle rope rescue and patient care. My favorite place is dangling at the end of a rope, taking care of a patient on some random cliff spot.”

Up a rope or down on the ground, when you’re in trouble, Ruth Stewart is the rescue woman you want to answer your call!

Ruth Stewart lives in Ridgway, Colorado

Related Links.
Ouray Mountain Rescue Team
Ouray Mountain Rescue Team Retrieves Injured Rider from Lou Creek Pass. 07/22/14 | By Samantha Wright
Climbers Recount Daring Mt. Sneffels Rescue Mission. 09/17/14 | By Samantha Wright
Man Survives Single-Vehicle Accident on Red Mountain Pass. 09/01/14 | By Samantha Wright
Colorado Springs Man Rescued from Black Canyon.  05/08/13 | Watch Staff
Garbage Truck Plummets Off Camp Bird Road 08/14/13 |Watch staff


This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke

Katie Sickles

Katie Sickles, Ouray City Administrator

a Perfect Fit


by Kathryn R. Burke

[Ouray, Colo. March 20, 2018] Katie Sickles is a small town girl—from Cedaredge; Ouray’s a small town—just the right size. She’s an outdoor girl—bikes, hikes, swims and crossfits; Ouray has a hot pool, fitness center and tons of biking and hiking trails. She has experience in locating resources and implementing infrastructure action plans. Katie worked on more than one task force in Delta County, where she was town administrator for over 10 years. Ouray has some infrastructure issues—helping to resolve them is at the top of her own action plan. Ouray was always a favorite family vacation spot while she was growing up; now she lives here. Katie and Ouray—a perfect fit.

What does Katie like best about Ouray? Pretty much everything. “I love it because it’s a small town, and everything is ‘walkable.’ We have great restaurants, too, and so many things to do.” Katie came here in November, serving as interim city administrator while they were recruiting—and they recruited her. The position became permanent in February. “I’ve been coming here quite a few years,” she explains. “The family vacations when I was growing up, frequent trips when my kids were growing up in Cedaredge, and as a volleyball official for high schools in the Montrose District, which includes Ouray. I was here often.”

City administration wasn’t her first job. “After graduating from Delta High School, I left to find bigger and better things. I worked in the accommodation field in south New Jersey, a big tourist area, for a few years. I was in my early twenties. I had a great time.”

Katie came home, married, raised a family of four children, and went back to school to get a masters degree in public administration at the University of Colorado at Denver. When her degree was completed, she went to work for the Delta County EMS Special Funding District Task Force, where she helped draft a service plan for the proposed Delta County Ambulance District. Her next position was also with Delta County, as the GIS Coordinator. Then in 2006, she was hired as Cedaredge Town Administrator. All this before she accepted the interim position with the City of Ouray last year, which is now a permanent position.

She’s excited about where Ouray’s municipal operations are now, and looks forward to making some positive changes in the infrastructure. “Ouray has some conflicts and compliance issues right now—sewer and ice park, to name two. Many of the plans that have been in the talking stage are now ready for action plans and implementation,” she notes, “and I’m anxious to help find the resources and work with the community to get the job done. I want to be the ‘getter-together’ person.”

Sounds like she can do it, too. Katie is a perfect fit for the job.

This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke

Erin Stadelman

Erin Stadelman

Be careful what you wish for


By Kathryn R. Burke

[Ridgway, Colo. March 21. 2017] Erin Stadelman went from a California beach kid to living in the mountains and married to a cowboy. “Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.”

She grew up in Southern Caifornia where her dad was a deputy sheriff, her mom a homemaker, and her life revolved around the beach. Erin was a lifeguard there—a dream job for some, but not for her after she saw her first horse. “My parents thought I was crazy,” she said. “But, it was love at first sight. My mother had a friend who owned horses and she allowed me to exercise them. I rode anything I could get my hands on.”

When she was 12, Erin’s dad took her on a cross-country trip to take her older brother to West Point. Her dad’s name was Ray, and when he saw the name “Ouray” on a map, he pronounced it “Ooo RAY” and declared they would make a stop there. Erin spotted a field full of horses near Ridgway. “I grabbed all the apples we had in the camper,” she said, “and fed them to the horses. And I told my dad, ‘I’m gonna marry a cowboy and I’m gonna live here.’”

And that’s exactly what she did. Here she is; 34 years, four children, six grandchildren (“We’re a blended family, and a prolific group!” she laughs), and a whole lot of horses later, living on the Ralph Lauren Ranch with her husband, Steve, who cowboys for the RRL. While Steve cowboys, Erin is involved in 4H, the Cattleman’s Association (she was president for eight years), rodeo association (still president of that), and the Ouray County Fairgrounds, where she has been the Assistant Fairgrounds Manager since 2015. “Susan [Long, the Fairgrounds Manager] decided that she needed help running the fairgrounds and event center, right after we finished [replacing] the grandstands and new arena. They needed help with marketing, so she and [Ouray County] BOCC solicited me for the job.”

It’s a great fit. “This is the job I’ve been waiting for since I moved here 10 years ago,” she said. “Working at the fairgrounds after all the time and investment my family and I made in 2014 for the renovation, primarily the creation of the arena—it’s where I needed to be. While I was president of the Rodeo Association, we got funds and labor to put the new arena together,” she explained.

Erin’s job involves working with events that come into the fairgrounds in addition to soliciting new events. “I basically do what Susan doesn’t have the time or energy to do,” she said, “which means I focus the majority of my time on outside activities.”

A new event this year was Skijoring—a horse and rider pulling a skier through the snow and a jump. “It was exciting, it was cold, and everybody had a good time,” she said. “The competitors certainly loved it.”

A lot of her focus is on kids. For the second year, she is bringing a vocation Bible camp to the fairgrounds this summer. Last year she brought in a circus—no animals, though, just clowns and acrobats. “I try to find stuff that’s important in my world—my kids, my husband, my livestock, my dogs.” And her beloved horses, of course.

Erin is looking forward to Labor Day Weekend this year, when the Fairgrounds hosts a three-day rodeo following five days of the Ouray County Fair. It will be ranch rodeo first, then two days of CPRA pro rodeo. Rodeo is a tradition in Ouray County, which has a long history in ranching. This year will mark the 100th anniversary of the Ouray County Rodeo and Fair. About ten years ago, the fair board segregated from the rodeo board, but for this event, both are becoming involved together along with Cattleman’s Association. “It’s going to be a big cebraton,” she said. Her husband will compete in the ranch rodeo on the RRL team, and she may as well.

“When my husband first saw me ride, he couldn’t believe I’d never owned a horse. ‘Your’e a natural,’ he said.” And she sure is—any of us who have seen her ride in a rodeo know he speaks the truth. That gal can sit a horse like she was born on one!

Erin Stadelman

“I didn’t grow up with this lifestyle, but it’s my life now,” Erin said. “ When I retire” [which won’t be for a long while, she’s only 46], “I plan to put a lawn ornament horse out there. I’ll sit and look at my horse, but won’t need a saddle any more.”


Erin Stadelman lives with her ‘blended’ family on the Ralph Lauren Ranch outside of Ridgway Colorado.

Update: 2018.  Erin is now the Ouray County Fairgrounds and Event Center Manager. (Susan Long retired.) She is also president of the Rodeo Association.


This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke

Kathy See

Kathy See

Kathy See, native plant seed collector

Seeds of success


By Kathryn R. Burke

Kathy See[Montrose, Colo.  April 17, 2018]  She has a fascinating job, and one that she basically created for herself. Kathy See works as a liaison with land management agencies and other organizations involved in land rehabilitation and restoration. She is the Native Plant Coordinator for the Uncompahgre Partnership. Kathy finds and collects wild seeds for genetic preservation.

What this involves, “is going out and looking for large enough populations to find and collect seeds,” she explained. The seeds are then sent off to put into frozen storage at Colorado State University (CSU) labs. It’s a national program, but the seeds Kathy collects are stored right here in Colorado.

The native seed collection program is the basis of Seeds of Success (SOS), which started mostly in the west, but now involves seeds from all across America. The program originally started with KEW Gardens in London. Here in America, SOS has been run by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) since 2001 and in partnership with numerous federal agencies and non-federal organizations. SOS’s mission: to collect wild land native seed for research, development, germplasm conservation, and ecosystem restoration.

Additionally, “I help various local project managers put together seed mixes and act as a resource for people needing information on availability of native seeds.” It’s a big job and involves a lot of agencies. “I actually work with a larger organization,” Kathy explains—“The Western Colorado Landscape Collaborative, which includes the Forest Service, BLM, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Public Land Partnership, various utilities, and the many groups that come together to make decisions about federal and state lands.”

See also created the job herself. She was teaching fourth grade in Montrose, and contacted a colleague at Colorado Parks and Wildlife about an article she had read in the newspaper regarding seed conservation and preservation. One thing led to another, and she wound up working from home with a paid position that perfectly fit her background and interests: Kathy holds a master’s degree in plant ecology from CSU. “The whole idea of ecosystem restoration—where plants grow and why—is pretty cool,” she said.

Fall is report-writing time. Winter is rest time, much like it is for the plants, and summer is collection time. Collecting seeds involves various techniques, from pulling off seed heads to beating seeds into a bag, or with something bigger and tougher, like sagebrush, using a tennis racket to beat seeds into a trash can!

The most unusual plants she encounters? Plants on the salt desert between Delta and Grand Junction. “That soil is so salty and alkaline, and plants so specialized for where they are growing,” Kathy said. “These are things that thrive in a harsh environment, plants that can tolerate high salts, dense clay soil, and very sporadic moisture. Like Salt Bush, which absorbs so much salt, if you crunch on it, it’s kind of salty.”

She also finds the mountain shrub plant community interesting–things like scrub oak, aka Gambel oak. “People don’t realize what a huge role that species plays in that ecosystem,” she explained. “The plants are food for animals, and provide shelter for babies that need to hide from predators.” Then there are the fascinating similarities and differences in ecosystems where like plants grow. Columbine grows in the Colorado mountains, for example, but it also grows in Ireland. Two different climates, “but something similar between the two systems.”

Kathy See lives in Montrose, Colorado

This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke