Carol Saylor has always been a “net weaver.” That’s what she calls her ability to connect the people she meets with the information they need to make something happen.
“I see the big picture,” says Carol. “I see how to get from point A to point B. I see how to get to Point C. I call it net weaving, connecting people to work together to create something new.” She’s an expert at “net weaving.”
Carol arrived in the Bitterroot Valley in 1992 with her husband and young daughter. Her husband had to leave the state briefly. She enrolled her daughter in kindergarten, “and then I was all alone in a new town.”
With her printing and graphic arts background, she applied at the Job Service, assuming she would end up with a retail job. She stopped in at the Chamber of Commerce office to get some information about the area. Jerry Dye was volunteering on the desk that day and he convinced her to volunteer the following Friday. She agreed. The Friday she started was “Garage Sale Friday” and several people came in to get directions. Because Carol has three cousins in the valley, she actually had a pretty good idea of where things were, and she was able to help those people, which made a good impression on her boss.
She got a job at Bitterroot Marketing, a marketing agency in Stevensville, and one of the first things she worked on was making signs for Western Heritage Days. She later designed a map for the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial for the Chamber of Commerce. She was invited to be a Chamber Ambassador and co-chaired the North Valley Ambassadors. In addition to being part of the Chamber Ambassadors, she has been part of Leads, worked 15 years on the Brewfest Committee (nine as co-chair), Senior Pro Rodeo Chamber food booth, member of the Tourism and Marketing Committee, chair of the website committee, and served three years on the board.
Carol also worked for the Bitterroot Building Industry Association and as administrative assistant at the Chamber. Other jobs have included stints at Insty-Prints, Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, Ravalli Republic, Maverick Marketing and Allegra Printing.
“I’ve made so many connections and so many friends,” says Carol.
While working at Allegra, Ken Schultz and Eric Campbell approached Carol to help start the Scottish/Irish Festival which eventually became the Bitterroot Celtic Games & Gathering.
Carol retired in 2011, but went back to work part-time for A2Z Personnel as marketing director. Her daughter moved back to the valley with Carol’s first grandchild, and Carol became a full-time grandma.
Carol’s daughter introduced her to Facebook. She was happy to connect with old friends, many all over the world. “It was so fun to reconnect,” she said.
True to her philosophy of “net weaving,” Carol’s eventual proficiency with Facebook ended up serving a larger purpose. When COVID-19 hit, Carol started noticing the local businesses were having trouble figuring out what to do. So, she started a Facebook page, Bitterroot To Go, providing information such as who’s open, what are their hours, menus, whether they provide curbside service, etc.
She started the page on a Wednesday night and by Saturday morning there were over 600 members. Even employees of restaurants were adding to the conversation. After two months, another food truck page merged with her page. She also added virtual activities for kids.
She also manages the Bitterroot Valley Events page and the Chamber of Commerce’s page. She has become a “Facebook guru.”
“I’m hoping in my little way I’m still doing what I’ve always done, and that’s connecting people with local products and the things they need. Making something good happen.”
The Bitterroot Valley Chamber of Commerce recently honored Carol Saylor with the Laurel Award for her many years of community service, service which shows no signs of stopping any time soon.