Hoping for more water and higher commodity prices, members of the La Plata Archuleta Cattlemen gathered on Saturday night for their annual banquet and to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Colorado Cattlemen's Association.
The organization is 10 years older than the state of Colorado, noted the association's state president, Todd Inglee.
"We appreciate the legacy that has been handed to us," he noted.
The association was founded by 20 ranchers to combat cattle theft, and the agenda today has grown to encompass other issues, such as wolves, water, and public land use. The local chapter was founded in 1950 and has awarded 137 scholarships totaling more than $115,000.
At Saturday night's annual banquet at Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, members saw videos from current scholarship recipients.
Courtney Mael, who is finishing her final year of veterinary school; Keanna Smith, studying nursing at Redlands Community College; Tyler Beebe, who studies livestock production at Otero Community College and is an accomplished bronc rider; Lorianne Stevens, a junior at the University of Wyoming studying animal science and the president of her sorority; Michael Semler, a Colorado State University student who is on the meat and animal judging teams; Kayla Stevens at Northeastern Junior College, who is on the school's livestock judging team; Tyllor Ledford, who is studying agricultural economics at Texas Tech; and Katrina Chandler, studying exercise science at Colorado Mesa University and a member of the school's basketball team.
The group also was thanked by Catch-It Contest recipients, who battle at the La Plata County Fair to capture a calf or lamb to use for next year's 4H livestock project. Dakota Wood and Breeann Waddell of Durango High School thanked the group for sponsoring their Catch-It animals.
One of the highlights of the evening, and a major fundraiser for the group, is the auction and drawing for two quilts featuring local brands.
This year's auction winner was First National Bank of Durango and their future owner, TBK Bank in Dallas. Ron Dunavant served as the auctioneer.
The evening's friend of the cattlemen award went to Christi Zeller, the executive director of the Energy Council.
Zeller is truly "a friend of agriculture," said Davin Montoya, the head of this year's selection committee and a past recipient of the award.
Zeller said part of her job for the local energy producers' group is to monitor local land-use policies, and she tries to share that information with local ranchers because ag policy and energy policy often are intertwined.
She noted that she doesn't own cattle, but she used to bottle-feed her uncle's calves, so she's always felt an affinity for ranching.
Saturday's event also was attended by state lawmakers, county commissioners, county political candidates, and several members of the La Plata Electric Association co-op board who are running for re-election.