FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 19, 2019
CONTACT: Patty Swedberg
St. Louis County Extension Administrator
Youth in Action students complete Twin Cities service trip
For the fifth consecutive year, students in St. Louis County’s Youth in Action program participated in three days of service and outreach in the Twin Cities. This year’s group is the largest yet with 20 students in grades 9-12 from eight schools. The team worked together on a variety of service projects including preparing meals for families at the Ronald McDonald House, picking up trash in a public park, and helping with a landscaping project at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
The annual retreat teaches students leadership and teamwork skills; while giving them a variety of community and cultural exposures. Youth bring these new ideas and sense of involvement home to their own communities and schools on the Iron Range and in Duluth. This year’s students are from Hibbing, Virginia, Cherry, Proctor, Duluth East, Connections Academy, Northeast Range and Blue Sky schools. They were accompanied by Youth in Action staff Tyler Erickson, Taryn Burnett and Sarah Westerberg.
Students started their trip with a stop at a grocery store to purchase meal supplies. They then headed to the Ronald McDonald House on Oak Street in Minneapolis, where they prepared enough food for more than 90 people – the families of children who are hospitalized for treatment of life-threatening illnesses. The meal consisted of homemade chicken enchiladas, quesadillas, Spanish rice, seasoned black beans, refried beans, queso, four types of homemade salsa, fruit, snicker salad, and root beer floats.
“I learned more about the importance of helping others and being part of something bigger than myself,“ said one student of the experience.
On day two, students broke into groups and worked with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board at Sumner Fields Park. This included picking up trash along the infiltration basin, removing turf, planting, weeding and mulching. They also created flower bouquets for the residents of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.
The final day of service was held at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Students chose this project recognizing it as a new and unique opportunity to help with more than 1,200 acres of gardens, landscapes, and natural areas. Students weeded and landscaped multiple areas, including a Japanese garden and shade tree. They created a clearing below a rose garden, and helped plant and water around the property.
Among the feedback from students, one stated: “I learned that people can be raised differently, and come from different backgrounds, but we can still find things we have in common and get along.”
Another commented, “I learned how important it is for students to volunteer and serve the community, because it really builds character and pushes everyone to be better people.”
Youth in Action promotes positive youth development and public service values, and encourages students to become young leaders who are better engaged with their communities. YIA involves approximately 400 youth participants from 16 high schools in St. Louis County. To learn more about the program or opportunities for youth, visit yiamn.org.