Around Town 26

Sheepdog Finals Return September 13

The National Sheepdog Finals are returning to Carbondale and will take place at Strang Ranch between September 13th and 18th. It’s an unusual opportunity to see 200 of the nation’s top dog handlers and their dogs competing for over $40,000 in prize money, and also for the titles of National Champion Open dog and Nursery dog.

Join your neighbors at the beautiful Strang Ranch up on Missouri Heights for some fantastic competition, a food and craft fair and lamb cooking demonstrations. In addition to the sheepdog competition, you will enjoy demonstrations of other dog sports.

Carpooling is encouraged; spectators should bring a hat, a water bottle and a chair. Some bleacher seating will be available, but please leave pets at home as no outside dogs will be admitted. Tickets can be purchased at the gate. The price is $15 for each adult and $40 for a carload of three or more; kids and seniors admitted for $5. For more information, visit or call 970.963.2319.

Local Author Touring Nationally with Mindfulness Book

John Bruna, a former Tibetan Buddhist monk, has been touring with his first book, “The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life: The Essence of Mindfulness” (Central Recovery Press). Bruna is speaking at book signings in the San Francisco Bay Area, Hawaii, New York, Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma and Florida.

Bruna’s book was written to offer readers an accessible, practical distillation of the spiritual teachings and life experiences that inspired and supported Bruna on his own path of recovery from drug addiction and homelessness. Bruna eventually became a Buddhist monk, and subsequently co-founded the Mindful Life Program, which is headquartered in Carbondale’s Third Street Center.

Blessing of the Animals Oct. 8 at CARE

The Sixth Annual Blessing of the Animals will be celebrated on October 8 at Colorado Animal Rescue (CARE). The Blessing of the Animals is sponsored by CARE and the Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist (TRUU) Congregation. TRUU’s new resident minister, the Reverend Shawna Foster, will be on hand to bless your pet, your child’s stuffed animal or a stand-in photo of any animal too nervous, large or unwieldy to attend the celebration. The event is free, but participants are encouraged to bring a donation of pet food for CARE’s animals.

Awards & Accreditation Celebrated at Jaywalker Lodge

Jaywalker Lodge announced in July that it had earned accreditation from the Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the U.S. Joint Commission accreditation and certification marks the highest level of care and standards for clients. Jaywalker staff worked extremely hard through the rigorous accreditation process.

The first annual Jaywalker Lodge “Anything is Possible” 5k run also took place in July. The run aimed to raise money for Jaywalker’s alumni program, and it drew over 50 runners. Community partners Aspen Strong Foundation and Youth Entity came out to support the race. The race offered an opportunity for Jaywalker alumni to be part of a community event and bring recovery awareness to the local residents.

In August, Jaywalker Lodge’s founder, Bob Ferguson, was named as a 2016 Behavioral Healthcare Champion by Behavioral Healthcare Magazine. This annual award recognizes four individuals who have been nominated for their dedication, courage, inspiration and excellence in their roles as executives of behavioral health organizations.

Report Tallies Cradle-to-Career Educational Gains

The Aspen Community Foundation recently released a report on its Cradle to Career Initiative (CCI), a collaborative intervention that helps improve the educational outcomes for 20,000 children who live between Aspen and Parachute. In 2011, when CCI began, severe achievement gaps existed between local low-income children and their more affluent peers. That’s not surprising; nationally, family income correlates closely with academic success—as one study concluded, the higher the poverty, the lower the test scores.

Locally, poverty increases as one travels downstream: In Garfield County, 41 percent of all students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch (the marker schools usually use to define poverty). Over 60 percent of Carbondale Middle School students qualify and more than 70 percent of students in Rifle’s Wamsley Elementary School qualify.

In 2011, most of our region’s children were not attending preschool, and changing that has been one of CCI’s major goals. As reported in the January 2016 issue of Roaring Fork Lifestyle, CCI’s Preschool on Wheels program, a partnership between Aspen Community Foundation and Garfield School District Re-2, sends out Gus the Bus and the Sunshine bus to low-income children in the Rifle-Silt-New Castle area. The two school buses have been converted into preschool classrooms with bilingual teachers and are reaching kids who had no previous access to preschool.

It’s making a difference. As kindergarten teacher Emily Raymonda of Highland Elementary School in Rifle observed, “The children who entered my kindergarten classroom after Preschool on Wheels were well prepared. They had a strong foundation of skills, including letter knowledge, book awareness, and early math skills.”

Colorado State Governor John Hickenlooper praised the local collaboration—which involves dozens of local nonprofits and educational organizations—saying, “We are grateful for the innovative and collaborative work that the Aspen to Parachute Cradle to Career Initiative is doing to build youth success and then to measure the results. We commend the Aspen Community Foundation for its leadership and applaud the region’s citizens for supporting their youth in this visionary way.”

The report is available on the Aspen Community Foundation’s website.