I recently had the pleasure of working with a Scout who needed to do some volunteer hours toward earning his Eagle Scout status and who was interested in doing those hours on the Ice Age Trail. (Thank you, Connor!) It got me to thinking about the many, many youth who have volunteered on the Lodi Valley segments. I’ll list just a few here:
-The Saunters groups for whom volunteering on the Trail has been part of the Sauntering experience
-The Lodi High School students who included service on the Trail as part of their homecoming activities
-The Lodi Middle School youth who participated in the annual Middle School Service Day
-The OSC classes who make volunteering on the Trail part of their curriculum
-The Lodi kindergarten students who tried their hand at using loppers to control invasive plants
-The various Scout groups who have contributed their time and energy
I could go on and on but you get the idea. The efforts of each volunteer help provide a positive Trail experience for the hundreds of people who hike the local Trail segments every year. On their behalf, thanks to all the volunteers.
As a Lodi Valley Chapter we have a few goals in mind when working with youth volunteers. We want to help them build knowledge and skills as well as confidence in themselves. We also seek to encourage a greater appreciation of the outdoors. And we hope that they feel a sense of ownership for and connection to the Ice Age Trail as a result of their volunteering. I can share a few examples to show you what I mean by this last idea.
After volunteering with their class to do some work on the Steenboch Preserve, two boys showed up with their dad at the next scheduled maintenance day. These boys were excited to show their dad where they had worked and it was great to see them take the lead in showing him what needed to be done as the three of them worked together. In another example, a young boy who had done some work on the Gibraltar Segment as part of a class activity brought his mother to the next full moon hike — which happened to be on the Gibraltar Segment — and proudly showed her where he had been working.
Our young people are making a difference in their world every day. We are honored that some of them are choosing to make that difference…..Along the Ice Age Trail.