To continue its work, CIS will need new funding, director says

“This is our countywide community service project,” Linda Ogden, executive director for Communities in Schools, told the gathering of students. “Today we want to do a little work, eat and have some fun,”

“This is our ‘thank you’ to the kids for coming to meetings, working, and doing a good job.”

About 14 students and four adults from area schools, representing the Marion County Youth Team, gathered at Marion County Lake Thursday afternoon to pick up some trash, go boating, and eat sandwiches provided by Subway of Hillsboro.

The team, established in December 2000, is part of a plan to develop a youth-led program which helps students grow in leadership skills, participate in substance-abuse prevention education, and provide opportunities for community service.

The current team president is Danielle Steele, a senior at Centre High school, with Kiera Funk of Hillsboro as vice-president. Members come from all five county schools.

Adult sponsors are Ken Hartzler of Goessel, Katie Pankratz of Peabody, Phoebe Janzen of Marion, Tonja Wienck and Evan Yoder of Hillsboro, and Neal Weltha of Centre.

The team plans monthly meetings that focus on a topic of interest.

Last April, the team observed a session of Teen Court at the Geary County Municipal Court in Junction City. In May, District Court Judge Michael Powers of Marion attended their meeting to answer questions about juvenile crimes, Teen Court and youth concerns.

In June, a several team members worked with mayors of Tampa, Lost Springs and Lincolnville to complete service projects in each community, including cleaning up a cemetery, painting city park equipment, and trimming trees.

In addition to the “thank you” afternoon, this weekend the group washed windows for businesses in downtown Marion and finished with lunch provided by Big Scoop.

Monday night students washed District 408’s suburbans.

Ogden said the students work hard, and appreciate the support and help from the communities.

“Marion City furnished the trash bags for today’s work,” Ogden said. “We’ll be glad to come and work if people will just let us know where to come.”

Ogden is concerned about the future of CIS and the programs it offers students.

Earlier this year, after several months of working on the proposal, CIS was turned down for a 21st Century Learning Center Program Grant.

“Very few who apply get it the first time,” Ogden said. “I think we’ll get it the next time, or the next. But we have to find ways of funding programs now.”

She said the Leo Club, the youth arm of the Hillsboro Lions clubs, has worked closely with after-school programs and other CIS projects.

“They have been great to us, and Tampa and Burns have expressed an interest in starting up Leo Clubs as well.”

Ogden said she hoped money could be found to fund her position and enable her to continue looking for more money through grants and corporate funding.

“We are now looking for corporate funds, and we’ll take individual donations as well,” she said.

After-school programs were offered throughout the 2000-01 school year at least two days a week for students in grades kindergarten through eight in all five school districts.

Ogden said more than 500 Marion County students participated in the programs, which included guitar and piano classes, art classes, bug clubs, computer classes and summer drama activities for students.

“After-school won’t be near what it was last year,” Ogden said. “There just isn’t the money.”

She said volunteers are need to teach some of the after-school classes, or to help out.

“The money will come,” Ogden said. “It is just going to take a little time and more work.”

For more information about the program, contact Ogden at 812 E. A, Hillsboro, 67063 or call her at 947-3184. Her e-mail address is:,

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