The Lowell Whiteman School seniors Will Horner, left, and David Lea repair a bench Thursday at the city-owned Legacy Ranch as part of a community service project.

Photo by Matt Stensland

The Lowell Whiteman School seniors Will Horner, left, and David Lea repair a bench Thursday at the city-owned Legacy Ranch as part of a community service project.

Whiteman students now required to volunteer in Steamboat

School now requires participation in weekly service projects

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Organizations that would like assistance from The Lowell Whiteman School students can call Director of Experiential Education Margi Missling Root at 970-879-1350, ext. 27.

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The Lowell Whiteman School senior Tomas Vrba pains a picnic table bench.

— Will Horner helped nail tog­­ether, sand and paint wood­­­­en benches and a picnic table Thursday afternoon for Yamp­atika at the city-owned Legacy Ranch.

It was just one of several community service projects the senior from The Lowell Whiteman School has participated in recently. Horner said he isn’t sure which is his favorite.

“It’s pretty cool to be at the Boys & Girls Club. You get to play with the little kids and help them with their homework,” he said. “The library is cool because it’s nice and relaxing. But this place is cool because you get to build stuff, which I haven’t done since shop class in middle school.”

This year, the school is requiring students to dedicate time each week to a volunteer effort.

In addition to assisting Yam­­patika, the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs and Bud Werner Memorial Library, students also will help out with the city’s Afterschool Action program, with the USDA Forest Service and Colorado State Parks and at the school’s campus, said Margi Missling Root, Whiteman’s director of experiential education. She said students even gave blood Thursday.

In the past, students were required to volunteer, just not as often, Missling Root said. She said this is the first year the school’s curriculum required that students volunteer weekly. The intention is to make the community, Steamboat and Whi­te­man a better place.

Missling Root said students involved in the school’s foreign travel program would volunteer in fall and winter. She said the competitive skiers and snowboarders would take their turn in spring. And Missling Root said their volunteer efforts would culminate with a school-wide day of caring.

“It just helps them understand the world by getting out in it, the community,” she said. “Many of our students aren’t from Steamboat. It gives them a connection to Steamboat, this part of the state, the valley by getting out into it.”

Yampatika Programs Coor­dinator Melissa Calhoon said without help from Whiteman students the past several weeks, Yampatika staff would have had a tough time getting the Legacy Ranch ready for winter. Before the snow started falling, she said, students raked leaves and repaired fencing.

Calhoon said the advantage of partnering with Whiteman not only was exposing a new group of students to Yampatika, but also helping it transform the Legacy Ranch into a continuously operating environmental education center and active demonstration site.

“Part of the reason we try to do this is to promote service learning,” she said. “Not only are they out here, but they’re learning the history of the area.”

Calhoon said Yampatika has a long list, but upcoming projects include updating the kiosks on the Yampa River Core Trail with winter information and cleaning out the ranch barn for the Steamboat Springs 4-H participants to keep animals.

Seniors David Lea and Tomas Vrba, a boarding student from the Czech Republic, helped Horner with the benches and picnic table. Junior Cameron Ehrlich worked on projects inside the house at the Legacy Ranch.

Horner said when the Whiteman staff told students they would be participating in weekly service projects, some weren’t happy. But he said most of the students are starting to enjoy the volunteer work, which is a good thing.

“Whiteman is kind of out there by itself in the woods,” Horner said. “It’s good to connect with the Steamboat community.”

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