Volunteers honored

Three recognized for their contributions to South Routt

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Kalvert Shiner said she gets back "way more" than she puts in as a volunteer -- and the Soroco High School senior puts in a lot.

She helps students at the South Routt Elementary School with reading and math every afternoon, she is involved with 4-H in various ways and is a state 4-H officer, and she is involved in a Fort Collins-based tsunami relief organization.

Shiner recently was named youth Volunteer of the Year by Soroco's 11s Club. There were two adult winners this year: Mike Yurich and Paul Bonnifield.

Shiner said that volunteering has given her invaluable experiences.

"It teaches me that nothing can be done by yourself -- you need the help of others," Shiner said. "I feel like I'm really getting lifelong lessons out of it. I learn things now that I'll probably use when I'm 80."

She was quick to say that the other youth nominees were qualified, as well.

"It was such an honor," she said about receiving the award. "I never would expect anything in return, but that was a huge honor in itself, knowing what I do is appreciated."

She said it was good to see the appreciation for all of the volunteers across the area.

Shiner spends more than two hours a day at the elementary school through her work-study program. She helps teach math to fifth-graders and helps six students individually with reading.

"I love to see children grow as much as anything," she said. "I guess that's my passion for life."

Shiner said she has known she wanted to be an elementary school teacher since she was about 5 years old. She even remembers playing school with her stuffed animals.

Next year, she'll attend the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley to pursue that passion.

Her involvement with 4-H also started when she was young. Growing up on a ranch meant that agriculture was always a part of her life, she said.

As a state officer, she said one goal she and other officers have is to increase enrollment in 4-H across the state. So far, the group is seeing results from its efforts to do that, she said.

The tsunami relief organization, which was founded by Shiner's aunt, is a fund-raising group that collects used items and ships them to people affected by the recent tsunami.

Shiner said she enjoys working with the group because it is a faith-based organization, and because her aunt's devotion to the efforts is inspiring.

Add volunteering to Shiner's other activities, which include basketball, volleyball, dance and more, and it makes for a "very hectic life," she said. "However, it's worth it."

Shiner encourages everyone to find an organization they are passionate about and do everything they can within that organization.

"Volunteering is the basis of our communities," Shiner said. "Especially in such a small community, without volunteers, nothing is going to happen."

Mike Yurich and Paul Bonnifield are involved with various volunteer efforts in South Routt.

Yurich's focus is researching and cataloguing the history of the area. He said he spends at least three or four hours a day working on those efforts.

If he's not at the office of the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg, he's at his home doing the same work.

Bonnifield also spends a lot of time preserving the history of the area and teaching it to others through talks and historical tours. He also helps with a variety of other organizations. And he'll do some things on his own, such as help clear U.S. Forest Service trails so people can find their way through easily. He started doing that after losing his own way on a particular trail.

"I get involved in a lot of things," Bonnifield said. "I'm always there willing to help and always willing to try to do something."

But, he emphasized that he is just one of many volunteers across South Routt. He said it was an honor to be called volunteer of the year because there are many people who deserve the title.

"South Routt is, overall, a very strong volunteering community," he said. "We depend here in this end of the county ... a great deal on volunteers, and we usually get the volunteers."

Yurich agreed, saying that it was a "total surprise" for him to be chosen volunteer of the year, knowing all of the other volunteers in the area.

Volunteering to preserve the area's history is a passion for him, he said.

"It's hard to talk about it," he said. "When you do it for passion and you really like doing it, there are not words to describe it."

He encouraged people -- especially young ones -- to try volunteering with the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg and see if they find that same passion.

Bonnifield said people in South Routt volunteer in various ways, including simply supporting community events.

"The community is really receptive to volunteers," he said. "We can set out to do something, and you can bet the town, the community will be there to support."

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