Article by Julie Waechter, special assignment for Adams State

With roots in the San Luis Valley that go back four generations, Tami (Huffaker) Valentine’s family has three strong traditions: education, ranching, and Adams State University. She and her husband, Aaron `00, `03, have four children currently enrolled, and they, their parents, and siblings are all ASU alumni. Until the latest generation, all have become educators.

The Adams State tradition began with Tami and Aaron’s parents: Kirt and Cynthia Valentine, both Class of 1967, and Ann ’70, ‘88 and Kelvin Huffaker.

“My dad didn’t get to finish college, so he was determined we all would,” Tami explained. The extended family claims a total of 25 degrees from Adams State.

The Valentine family: Aaron, Tami, Elizabeth, Joshua, Addison, and Peyton, with their blue heeler, Jill.
The Valentine family: Aaron, Tami, Elizabeth, Joshua, Addison, and Peyton, with their blue heeler, Jill.

Tami earned a degree in English education with a minor in music in 2000, later went into nursing, and earned her master’s in counselor education in 2011. She recently opened a private counseling practice, after several years working for Valley-Wide Health Services. Aaron teaches second grade in the North Conejos School District. Tami noted it was a family affair when she and Aaron graduated from ASU in 2000, with one of her brothers and two of Aaron’s sisters also completing their degrees. All became public educators. Both sides of the family continue to ranch in Conejos County, and the teaching schedule facilitates that. Tami and her brothers began their own ranching operation while in college, and now her sons and daughters are building a herd of their own, as well.

“If we had gone away for college, we would have had to postpone that. Having Adams State in the valley is a big deal. Being close to home is important to us. Our kids want to stay in the valley,” Tami added. They raise cattle and quarter horses. “We still do everything on horseback. My kids and their cousins are who the neighbors call if there’s a wild cow loose.”

All of Tami and Aaron’s children followed the family path to Adams State. They include Peyton, an English major; Josh, an agribusiness major; Elizabeth, an accounting major, and Addison, an elementary education major. Their cousin Torissa Huffaker is also enrolled, majoring in nursing.

The family’s list of Adams State alumni also includes:

– Tracy (Valentine) Larsen ’00|
– Marcie (Valentine) Crystal ‘00
– Robyn (Valentine) Jackson ’09, ’11
– Ashlee Huffaker ‘00
– Tyler Huffaker ’00, ’03, ’11
– Brad Huffaker ’96, ’99
– Clint Huffaker ’98, ’02
– Kristi Huffaker ’99
– Cade Huffaker ’06, ’17
– Colton Sutherland ‘16
– Mason Larsen ‘19