Celebrating Mentoring, Science, and Community Partnerships!May 30, 2014 Mobius
On April 30th, our community partners from the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center hosted more than 200 mentors and mentees for Community Science Night. This annual event, which is free for mentor pairs, features science and animal exhibits and hands-on demonstrations led by the ECHO E-Team (Environmental Team). This year’s Community Science Night was catered by the Burlington Food Service, with volunteer assistance from the UVM chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta. The evening culminated with an a cappella musical performance by the UVM Hit Paws.
Mentors and mentees alike had a great time exploring ECHO, and learning from the E-Team, a teen leadership group made up of high school students from the Burlington, South Burlington, and St. Albans school districts. These teens volunteered their time to the Community Science Night and greeted, spoke with, taught, and inspired the visiting mentors and mentees as they experienced and enjoyed ECHO.
Milton resident Lynn Dempsey attended the event with her nine-year-old mentee Marissa, a student at Milton Elementary School. The two have been matched through Milton Mentors!, a community-based mentoring program coordinated by the Milton Community Youth Coalition, since September 2012.
“Mentoring has been a wonderful experience for me,” said Lynn. “It’s a great feeling to connect with a young person and help her realize how special she is. The ECHO events have been so much fun for us. I can’t keep up with Marissa as she flits from one exhibit to another. She especially loved the large fish and the weather station where you could record yourself giving the forecast like a real meteorologist!”
In addition to mentor pairs from the Chittenden County Mentoring Network, ECHO also opened up this year’s event to mentors and mentees from the Franklin County-based Watershed Mentoring program, including April, a 12-year-old mentee who was joined by her mentor Laura Isham.
“We had so much fun there, and I hope everyone else that came did too,” said April. “Me and my mentor, Laura, had fun looking at the fish and eating cookies and doing a lot of fun activities.”
While the event is traditionally geared toward mentor pairs from community-based mentoring programs, the group was joined this year by school-based pairs from Grand Isle County Mentoring and the Essex FriendCHIPS program.
Essex Junction resident Dan Finnegan was one of 13 mentors who attended the event with Essex FriendCHIPS, a school-based mentoring program that matches community adults as mentors for kids from the Essex Town and Essex Junction School Districts.
“The FriendCHIPS program provides a wonderful avenue to make a positive difference in the lives of some great children who benefit from having one more friend and one more person to talk to,” said Dan. “Events like the ECHO trip are great for the kids to meet new friends and for mentors to meet other mentors/mentees from other communities. Rewarding for adults and children alike!”
In addition to Community Science Night, ECHO also supports mentoring throughout the year by providing discounted entry for mentor pairs through the Mobius Mentor Discount Card.