On September 22 the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area presented five awards to local recipients during an event that featured speeches by two-time world champion Henry Cejudo and entrepreneur Frankie Sanchez. The awards honored and highlighted local organizations and individuals who have contributed to local heritage protection, promotion, education, and preservation.

The Signature Project of the Year was presented to the Cultural Awareness and Student Achievement (C.A.S.A.) Center at Adams State University for their ongoing cultural programming. In 2017 C.A.S.A. hosted a week of activities focused around Social Justice and Cesar Chavez. Events included: bread baking in hornos, historical research on the Hispano story of discrimination and the struggle to keep land and water, and artifacts from the California grape boycotts. Keynote presenter Maurice Jourdane shared about the contribution to the advancement of farm workers in the fields of California by outlawing the required use of “el cortito”(the short handed hoe), the cause of severe and permanent crippling of hundreds of thousands of field owners. The C.A.S.A center, opened March 2012, fosters an environment for all students and community that promotes learning, celebrates cultures, develops leadership and student success with a global perspective. In addition to the many cultural activities promoted through ASU C.A.S.A., all are welcome to visit the home-like environment for studying, eating, cooking, watching TV/movies, or just hanging out. The C.A.S.A. motto is “Where strangers become friends, and friends become family.” Visit the C.A.S.A. Facebook page to learn about special events and activities.

The Youth of the Year awards were presented to two local youth for their exemplary contribution and participation in heritage programming. The awards were presented to Damion Garcia and Lindsey Sandoval. Damian participated in and took on a leadership role at an Archeology Camp. The multi-day camp was put on by the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area in collaboration with Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and Fort Garland Museum. This program introduced students to the discipline of prehistoric and historic archeology through place-based learning. Students went on several site visits on state and federal lands to experience hands-on field methods. Lindsey Sandoval also has been actively involved in SdCNHA’s Youth Ambassador Program whose goal is to teach stewardship of culture, heritage and history to the next generation. Lindsey assisted with collecting oral histories in Conejos County and the Youth Walking Leaders program. Any high school or college student wishing to become a youth ambassador can obtain more information on the organization’s website listed below.

Volunteer of the Year was earned by Jonathan Armenta for his selfless contribution of 198 hours of service to various SdCNHA projects and events. Mr. Armenta, along with many other volunteers made possible the vast variety of work conducted throughout the three counties of Alamosa, Conejos, and Costilla.

The Grant of the Year Award was presented for the Congresso de Acequias to the Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association. The Congresso de Acequias is an annual event that brings acequia irrigators together to share not only concerns and issues, but to also share knowledge, heritage and legal information. The original settlers of Southern Colorado brought with them a form of land settlement and irrigation that was based on principles of equity, shared scarcity and cooperation in which water was viewed as a resource in place, rather than a commodity. This water system of man made ditches is called an acequia. Acequias continue to be the lifeblood of residents in Southern Costilla County – they not only serve to provide the water for the farms on which 270 families depend, but they also serve as a conduit for community services and support. For more information on SdCAA please visit https://www.coloradoacequias.org/

SdCNHA would like to thank all those who took the time to attend the event and who generously donated. Funds raised at this event went to local youth history fair scholarships. These scholarships are open to all San Luis Valley Students who participate in the National History Fair Day with a topic about local history. For more information about SdCNHA please visit www.sdcnha.org

Thank you to our sponsors, services donated and volunteers: Jason and Julie Ramstetter, Tyler Eagan, Scott Schweizer, Adams State Wrestling Team, Alamosa Wrestling Team, Alamosa High School, Grizzly MMA, Alamosa County Local Marketing District Board, Alamosa State Bank, Alpine Electric, Alta Fuels, Chavez Southwest Market, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, GWI Security, Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton, La Jara Pharmacy, Nino’s del Sol, O&V Printing, San Luis Valley Brewing Company, The Colorado Trust, Vinrock Media, Zebra 97.1, the SdCNHA Board of Directors and Volunteers.