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I grew up on a farm west of Littleton. We called it the Grant Farm. It has now been developed and many homes are on it. That was where I spent my youth—working in the hay fields, irrigating, and doing anything and everything involved in farming and ranching.
My great-grandfather was surgeon general of the state of Colorado. My great-great uncle was the first Democratic governor of the state of Colorado. It was a family legacy about which you didn’t worry because you were out in the fields working or playing “Cowboys and Indians” or whatever. But as we all grew older and matured, we all gained a better understanding of how important the family has been to the progress, growth, and development of the state.
More people have moved from rural Colorado to our cities, so part of our agricultural heritage is disappearing. That’s why the National Western Stock Show is so important. It helps us to recall, remember, and celebrate our Western heritage, and how important that heritage is to the life and culture of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West.
Young people come and learn how to connect with animals, and to begin to understand what it means to drink milk that is from a cow and not just something you buy in the grocery store.
I treasure watching and listening to these young people. Their eyes are wide open. Their smiles are big, and they walk around with some sense of awe.
There has been a lot of speculation about our future. We are finding ourselves seriously constrained and limited at our site in the North Platte River Valley.
The transportation officials are planning to rebuild and reconstruct I-70. The RTD FasTracks leadership wants to build a light rail or commuter line just to the west of us. They will take land. The city and county of Denver want to master-plan the North Platte River Valley, and that may very well end up taking some ground. All of those are pressures. Our buildings are aging, and the cost of maintaining and preserving those buildings continues to escalate.
If we want to be a competitive, viable institution into the next century, I think we’ve got to make some significant and serious changes. The status quo is not an option.
What’s really important is that young children—my grandchildren, my children—grow up understanding what the West is all about and the values of the West. That is really important to my wife, Carla, and me.
The most important lesson in life, for me, has been to know what my strengths, what my abilities, what my talents are, but to also know and understand what my weaknesses and challenges are.
I think that as one begins to truly focus on one’s self, one can become more confident and aware of how important it is to work with other people and to look to other people for help.
Colorado is a gorgeous state. There are no more beautiful peaks, I would say, in the world. And they are just a hop, jump, and a skip from where I’m sitting [in Denver] right now. When you combine [the geography] and mix our rich Western heritage with our cultural and social activities, I don’t think there’s a better place to live anywhere. I love the people, and I love the state.