Youth volunteers ready to work
About 250 youths plan to roll up their sleeves April 21 to help beautify Leavenworth County.
Starting at 10:30 a.m., youths from across the county will gather at five sites, ready to rake leaves, pick up trash and even plant flowers and trees.
This is a part of the National Youth Service Day, organized in Leavenworth County by 4-H club members.
But youth participants don't have to belong to 4-H, as the event is open to all youths who want to work.
Beth Hecht, 4-H youth development agent, said the area's participation in the project evolved when 4-H youth leaders decided to get involved. It grew when the group received a $9,950 youth service day grant from the Kauffman Foundation.
Amy Fousek, a member of the Boling 4-H Club, is one of the youths responsible for the planning of the event.
"We'll be planting trees and shrubs at the fairgrounds," she said.
Last week, Fousek and Kelly Yunghans, a member of the Jarbalo Livewires 4-H Club, met at the fairgrounds to talk about plantings.
With them was Emily Nolting, a K-State research and extension commercial horticultural specialist.
Nolting offered advice on what should be planted near the newly rebuilt administration building at the fairgrounds.
Fousek said she hopes about 250 youths will participate in programs throughout the county.
Other work planned for the day will be:
In northern Leavenworth, on a 4-H garden near Lawson Elementary School. This will be combined with work at the Leavenworth Youth Achievement Center.
In south Leavenworth, at the Veterans Administration Medical Center. "They will assist in making care packages and delivering them," Hecht said. "They will visit with VA residents, play games with them and make new friends."
In McLouth, at Prairie Park near the football field.
"The recreation commission in McLouth gave us a list of things, like painting trash cans, cleaning up around signs and planting flowers a general beautification," Hecht said.
In Basehor, along with members of Basehor PRIDE, picking up trash, weeding the park and planting flowers.
After the work is done, about 2:30 p.m., buses will take volunteers from the work sites to the fairgrounds in Tonganoxie for a celebration rally.
At face value, the day should be successful in beautifying locations in area cities. But Hecht said the goal runs deeper.
"Our goal is to get the youth out to be a part of that community," Hecht said. "Maybe that one day will turn into a project that they'll continue to work with."
Also, she said, the youth leaders in charge will learn from taking on a leadership role that encourages them to take on responsibility.
"Too often, we ask the youths to do these things," Hecht said. "About then the parents get involved and do it themselves."