Mancos Elementary Principal Cathy Epps got a surprise on Saturday when she was honored as a Mancos School Garden Champion.
Teachers, students and Montezuma School to Farm Project staff members presented the award to Epps at a Mancos Conservation District meeting Saturday.
They created a plaque that will be put up at the Mancos School Garden in Epps’ honor.
Epps had been told the award would be given to someone else, so she was speechless “for the first time ever” as she was being honored, she said.
She has been recovering after a Jan. 2 crash north of Mancos in which she sustained severe injuries, including a brain injury.
She said that anticipating her return to school and being able to work with students in the school’s garden again had helped her recovery.
“I’m so blessed and honored,” she said. “This has been part of my drive to go on.”
MSTFP Interim Director Sarah Syverson said the group wanted to thank Epps for her support and all the work she’s done for the garden over the years.
“Without her, we wouldn’t have the school garden in the way that it is,” Syverson said.
Mancos Elementary School recently was awarded a $110,000 grant that will help fund an upgrade to the school’s playground, including a new outdoor classroom. Epps led the application effort for that grant.
Mancos Elementary Teacher Tara Wilburn said the school garden means a lot to teachers and students.
“Cathy was the big champion for this,” Wilburn said. “We so appreciate her.”
Several students read poems they wrote about Epps and the school garden.
“You’re the best principal I know,” third-grader Olivia Jukes read in her poem. “I can’t wait for you to come back.”