Linda D’Aquila: Growing support

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The Kiwanis Club of Steamboat Springs reminds everyone the 2013 Yampa Valley Science School term is approaching, and the club needs support to build a scholarship fund for Routt County youth participants. Community funding ensures low YVSS tuition rates while building a scholarship fund for needy sixth-grade participants. For years, the Kiwanis Club has provided financial grants to the Science School Scholarship Fund in fulfillment of our mission to support the youth of our community. This year, the Kiwanis Club donated $1,000 to provide needy Routt County students the opportunity to participate in this challenging experience.

Since 2001, YVSS has provided experiential education for sixth-graders from Routt County’s public and private schools. Last year, YVSS awarded scholarships to all the 32 requests of the 249 YVSS participants. This year, YVSS has received 18 scholarship requests for the 2013 term, and more arrive every day. Scholarship donations from local clubs, banks and individual donors currently total $2,725 — far short of the projected need. 

YVSS operates a five-day, residential, hands-on learning experience at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp for the last three weeks in September. Students arrive on a Monday and return home Friday afternoon. Their week is filled with activities that replace classroom studies in a deeply impactful manner through experiential science studies. Students leave the program with a scientific journal that captures all of their lessons, a better understanding of the cycle of life and the human impact on our natural ecosystems and a greater interest in the world of education.

In addition to their academic improvements, students gain a deeper and more familiar relationship with their teachers, thus strengthening their bond to school and excitement for learning. High school juniors and seniors volunteer to work with the sixth-grade students on all aspects of the program — academic, social and recreational activities. Through this experience, high school volunteers gain valuable leadership and job readiness skills while improving their appreciation for civic engagement.

The program is operated by Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, in coordination with public and private schools, Yampatika, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Friends of the Yampa, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and many volunteers. The costs associated with providing this unique learning experience are covered through individual donations, a grant from the Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board, proceeds from the annual Moonshine Ski & Dine fundraiser and the generous support of local banks, clubs and businesses. Remaining revenues are generated from a modest tuition fee of $125 per student. Although a small fee, the tuition often is unattainable by many of the sixth-grade families in Routt County. The scholarship fund awards financial support based upon referrals through our participating schools or RMYC. Although there are not enough scholarships to cover all of the qualifying applicants, YVSS never turns down a sixth-grade student who cannot pay.

The Kiwanis Club encourages our Routt County friends and neighbors to generously support the YVSS scholarship fund. Community-based contributions are instrumental in meeting the needs of these worthy sixth-graders. For more information on how to support YVSS, our Routt County sixth-graders or to volunteer at the school, contact Laura Karch, of RMYC, at 970-879-2135, ext. 7, or laura@rockymountainyouthcorps.com.

Linda D’Aquila

Kiwanis Club of Steamboat Springs

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