Justin is an Antonito native who recently returned home to give back to his community and be closer to family. His family has been farming and ranching in Conejos County for multiple generations.
At an early age, he was fascinated with traveling and took the first opportunity to get out and see the world. He was one of sixteen Americans chosen to be a citizen ambassador for the U.S. Department of State LINC Program in Tunisia in 2005. His experience in northern Africa inspired him to study abroad again, and he received a scholarship for a full-year of study in Germany on the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program.
After returning from Germany and graduating high school, he headed off to Colorado College on scholarships from the Daniels Fund, Hispanic Annual Salute, and CC Presidential Fund. While at Colorado College, he explored his interests, including courses in Native American and Mexican American Literature. After another year abroad in Göttingen, Germany, Justin graduated cum laude with a BA in German Language and Culture in 2012.
Immediately after graduating, he embarked on what would turn out to be a three-year journey to Germany and other European countries. While in Germany, he taught English at the University of Bremen and German for high school exchange students from the United States, Thailand, and China. In addition, he returned to Colorado College in 2014 and 2017 to teach a month-long, intensive German Theatre course and direct Das letzte Feuer and Verruecktes Blut.
Upon his latest return from Europe, Justin founded Valleybound, the Antonito School and Community Garden, which serves as an empowering educational space, offering a variety of activities for youth and adults alike. Educating and empowering community remains his main focus as he works on his Master in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health and a Graduate Certificate in Race and Social Justice from the University of New Mexico.
Serving in the key staff position as Co-Director, Anna Lee Vargas coordinates campaigns addressing illegal dumping and recycling in Conejos and Costilla Counties, as well as our campaign to expand the Río Grande del Norte National Monument into Conejos County.
A native of the Valley and having grown up in the in the beautiful town of Manassa, she graduated from Centauri High School in 1999. In May 2003, she graduated from Adams State University with a BA in Sociology and emphasis in Social Welfare, and a second major in Spanish/Liberal Arts.
During her four years at Adams State, she worked in the Academic Advising Office, helping fellow students with major/minor changes and advisor changes. In her senior year of college, she completed an internship with the San Luis Valley Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center. Upon graduation, Anna Lee was hired as a Prevention Specialist, where she worked with high-risk adolescents from Conejos County referred by the Department of Social Services.
After several years of working with Conejos County youth, she moved to Colorado Springs to pursue other endeavors. After six years in Colorado Springs, she has returned to raise her daughter in the San Luis Valley.
Abe grew up in Crestone, Colorado, and graduated from Adams State University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. As a musician, filmmaker, farmer and environmentalist, he has always had a strong connection to the San Luis Valley and considers the land an important aspect of his work on all creative levels. He is also passionate about growing and preparing healthy food and has spent the last few years working for the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition and Healthy Habits. Having recently moved to Antonito to start up a biodynamic farm and education facility, he is very excited and proud to now be working with Conejos Clean Water and Valleybound, the Antonito School and Community Garden.