Both Gretchen Jacobs and Andrew Petersen have been recent standouts in our community and also as youth leaders. Most recently, their combined leadership efforts were instrumental in creating a new city ordinance to ban single-use plastic bags in the four major grocery stores. They both reflect on the Steamboat community as an inspiring motivator to get involved and to give back.
Andrew talks about how his mother has always been involved with the community. He commends her on raising his awareness of what a special community Steamboat is and how it’s important to give back. Andrew has a history of youth volunteer experience to draw from. At age 11 he was active with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps as a Service Learning Crew. He spent three consecutive summers participating in environmental conservation. He has been a supervisor with the mini-Sprouts preschool program and currently works with the Boys and Girls Club. He has volunteered for fundraisers, completed an internship with the City of Steamboat, and is a member of the Model UN club in school.
Gretchen, similar to many youths in the Yampa Valley, enjoys the opportunities this community offers to be active. However, after suffering an injury as a soccer player, she looked to other venues in order to get involved. She joined the youth tri-club and was inspired to become a coach via Joy Rasmussen. Additionally, for the past three years, she has volunteered for the Dance Show, acting as the Director. She helped plan the entire program, auditioned dancers, organized rehearsals, and managed the production crew. As a junior high school student, she was part of the Leadership Class; her efforts promoted school spirit. She was instrumental with putting on Homecoming activities, Prom and more. She was asked to return as a mentor for her senior year and currently serves as the Senior Class Officer and held a position on the Sailor Senate.
It’s no surprise that both Andrew and Gretchen ended up on Teen Council, a program sponsored by the city and comprised of local youth who are interested in making a difference in our community. The council, originally created to host the Friday night club, has morphed into much more. Elevating youth’s perspective in the community has become their goal. Their motto is “giving teens a voice.”
When Teen Council member Quinn Keefe returned from a trip in the Bahamas and reported on the tremendous amounts of plastic seen on the beaches there, he recommended that the council make their annual project to ban plastic bags. Gretchen, Andrew and the rest of the council agreed. They became motivated to head off this problem before this issue becomes even more serious for future generations.
Although City Council has encountered other efforts to ban single-use plastic, until 2019 the proposal has not been successful. Andrew and Gretchen proceeded forward. Tackling the issues in a systematic and deliberating fashion. A major question for the City Council was, “what are the alternatives?” They provided the research behind offering paper bags and why the cost should be $.20 per bag. This delivery on details and continued deliberation clinched the deal with City Council and the ban will become effective in October 2019.
Both Gretchen and Andrew enjoy being involved with community projects such as the plastic bag ban. It gives them a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. Andrew mentioned that “I always get the best grades when I am doing many things.” They hope that other youth will be inspired to get involved. Not only does it feel good to make a positive impact on your community, they explained, but they want youth to know that you can accomplish anything so long as you work at it.