The Western Colorado Food and Farm Forum will be a virtual event this year held on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23.

The forum brings together farmers, ranchers, and agricultural advocates to benefit from networking and agri-business workshops focused on innovative soil, crop, livestock, and financial management practices, according to the press release.

Live Q&A sessions, a film screening and a virtual happy hour are scheduled to keep the conference’s tradition of providing informal networking and dialogue opportunities. Sponsors and vendors will be showcased in virtual rooms. Registration enables flexible and longterm access to all workshops recorded via the online platform, the press release states.

The theme of the 2021 Western Colorado Food and Farm Forum is, “Ag Management that Works: People, Place, Planet.”

Sessions will highlight successful production practices that focus on how agriculture can be profitable and continue to feed the world, while stewarding the planet’s ecosystems. Farmers, ranchers, ag-students, gardeners, and those interested in food issues will among those listening in.

“We are using this year’s need to go virtual as an opportunity to not only learn from local and state experts but to also tap into a couple of international speakers we could not bring otherwise,” Harrison Topp, conference chair, said in the press release.

Zoom meeting is on school boundaries

School District 51 will host a Zoom meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday about changes to high school attendance boundaries.

This piggybacks off the meetings in December about Grand Junction High School and Fruita Monument High School boundaries. Thursday’s topic adds a new scenario that would move future students east of Highway 6 & 50, west of 25 Road and south of Interstate 70 from FMHS to GJHS boundaries. According to the district, this won’t impact current students.

You can visit to find the news release about the meeting and the Zoom link.

Based in Africa and New Mexico, the keynote speaker, Allan Savory, is an internationally recognized farmer and change agent whose paradigm shifting ideas on holistic management have been implemented worldwide on 32 million acres. He offers hope for humanity by outlining how agriculture can shift from being a contributor to climate change to playing a significant role in combating it through food security while regenerating communities, the environment and economies. Savory received the Buckminster Fuller Institute’s award and Australia’s International Banksia award.

His keynote will address the crucial role holistic decision-making plays in the production of food through the complexity of institutions, nature and economies, the press release states.

Richard Perkins will also join the conference from 59° N Sweden to share how key management and financial strategies can be profitable and debt free despite challenging economics, climate and regulations. His session, “Making Small Farms Work” details how sales, marketing, and a diversified set of enterprises can be integrated using key decision-making and financial planning tools, the release states.

2020 graduation rate highest in a decade

DENVER — Colorado’s graduation rate reached its highest level in a decade with the Class of 2020, despite school closures and disruptions caused by the pandemic.

The Colorado Department of Education on Tuesday said 81.9% of high school seniors, or 55,220 students, graduated from public and charter schools last spring, The Denver Post reported.

Colorado’s high school graduation rate has increased 9.5% since 2010, the department said.

The number of student departures also fell during the 2019-2020 school year, when 8,561 seventh- through 12th-graders, or 1.8%, left the education system. The figure was the lowest in a decade, the department said. There were 716 fewer students leaving the system compared to the previous year. About 83% of school districts reported dropout rates at or below the state average.

The pandemic disrupted the spring semester by closing schools and postponing many commencements but likely did not impact how many seniors graduated, said Andy Tucker, education department director of postsecondary and workforce readiness.

Aspen to close indoor restaurant dining

ASPEN — The Aspen area will close indoor dining at restaurants on Sunday as the county reports the highest incidence rate for the coronavirus in Colorado.

The Pitkin County Board of Health’s unanimous decision on Monday will also limit lodging capacity in Aspen and Snowmass Village to 50%.

Ski mountains will remain open without a reservation system, the Aspen Times reported.

“We’ve communicated until our eyes are falling out,” Pitkin County Commissioner and Board of Health Member Greg Poschman said. “Yet we still have a lot of people … not agreeing with us. It’s time. We have to do this. It’s painful. It’s not forever.”

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