A typical workday for Peggy Stoltenberg could encompass just about anything.
She sits at the front desk in the Northeast Regional Engagement Center on a busy corner in downtown Sterling. Many people see the CSU sign and walk in to ask a variety of random questions, such as, “How can I get an opossum out of my attic?”
More often, people wander into the Engagement Center because they are new to town looking for resources, connections or education — or they are longtime residents, also looking for resources, connections or education.
“Which is great,” says Stoltenberg, “because THAT is what my work is all about: making connections and building relationships.”
About the role
Stoltenberg is the partnership and project development manager for the CSU Northeast Regional Engagement Center in Sterling, a part of CSU’s Office of Engagement and Extension. She has worked as a CSU state classified employee for over four years. She enjoys supporting connections that benefit both the person and the community — it’s the aha moment that she lives for.
Her day is often spent listening: attending CSU or community meetings, facilitating a program for older adults in their community, or just having a conversation in the grocery store.
“My brain is always in connect mode,” she said. “In every meeting and conversation, I am actively thinking … how can I help this person connect to something or someone that will make their life better and help enrich the community at the same time?”
In April, Stoltenberg partnered with the CSU Math Department and many other campus partners to bring a bus of rural high school girls from Northeast Colorado to the CSU Fort Collins main campus for the annual Sonia Kovalevsky Day Women in Math Day. This event included an admissions presentation, a day full of math events, a resource fair, several specialized CSU tours in the girls’ areas of interest, dinner with CSU student ambassadors and alumni, and more.
She said the greatest part of the event was “the amazing collaboration between the partners and the way they all came together to provide a very unique and rare opportunity for rural high school girls to really imagine themselves being successful in college and fitting in on a college campus.”
The Center envisions that this could be a model for students across the state to have an opportunity to visit campus, attend an event and tour in their area of interest, and therefore increase the likelihood of them attending college (and hopefully CSU).
This month, Stoltenberg is busy organizing and running the second annual Embracing Aging on the Square event, a community celebration of older adults in recognition of Older Americans Month in May. Over 30 vendors will showcase resources for aging well and encouraging people to “Age My Way,” and CSU Extension will feature educational programming on healthy aging.
For example, Stoltenberg is leading an age-friendly community project that brings together community volunteers to conduct an age-friendly community survey. This will be followed by developing an age-friendly community plan to make their community more livable and desirable for people of all ages.
Workshops for older adults
Another item in Stoltenberg’s wheelhouse is the facilitation of the Center’s weekly workshops for older adults. She spreads the word about these opportunities, creates the marketing and facilitates each group. Offered workshops include Coffee, Tea, and We, a life-long learning and discussion group for English speaking older adults; and Es Tiempo de Crear, an education and creation group for Spanish speakers of all ages. This month, the Center is hosting mental health workshops in Spanish for the adult participants and success coaching for the youth participants.
In response to a community request, the Northeast Regional Engagement Center forged ahead with the CSU Office of Engagement and Extension’s “How might we…” mantra to develop a weekly group for Spanish speakers who wanted to come together to learn new things, form true friendships, and have deep conversations in a safe space. Although Stoltenberg and others in their office don’t speak Spanish, they figured out a way to make this happen and now hold a successful weekly group, growing relationships beyond the language barriers.
“I was recently brought to tears as the Spanish speakers planned and pulled off an amazing surprise birthday party for me, complete with cake, presents, and singing Happy Birthday to me in both English and Spanish,” Stoltenberg said. “My heart is full.”
The Classified Personnel Council thanks Stoltenberg for her contributions to community and her commitment to listening, which transforms lives with each moment of connection.
“Day in the Life” features the stories of state classified colleagues to help the CSU community get to know and recognize their diverse responsibilities and duties. To recommend a state classified individual or group for a future “Day in the Life,” visit the Classified Personal Council website. Follow the CPC on Facebook at facebook.com/ColoradoStateUniversityCPC.