Youth Adventure 2: Double fun

Mason McCarty of the street department instructs Victoria Wintermote about the operation of the city?s front-end loader. Each HYA participant had a chance to move some dirt with this powerful machine as well as the city?s backhoe.They came, they had fun, and they went home with a little better understanding of how city government helps keep the Hillsboro community functioning.

That?s the assessment of organizers who led the second annual Hillsboro Youth Adventure last Wednesday for a group of energetic seventh and eighth-graders.

?Fun is the primary requisite,? City Administrator Larry Paine said about the program, which is patterned after one in Great Bend. ?At the same time, we?re teaching what we must do on a day-to-day basis.?

After drawing six participants to the program?s debut in 2013, 11 seventh- and eighth-graders turned out for this year?s event, which is co-sponsored by the city of Hillsboro and Families And Com?munities Together Inc. as a way to strengthen the bond between youth and their hometown.

Participating this year were Orin Blecha, Jacob Denholm, Josiah Driggers, Isaac Goekler, Dereck Hamm, Makayla Higby, Alex Kerr, Alex Lubbers, Mac?ken?zie Krause, Tiffany Shaw and Victoria Winter?mote.

The larger group prompted organizers to form two groups instead of one.

?It gave us some challenges in terms of transportation that we didn?t deal with last year, but we dealt with it and it worked,? Paine said.

Full agenda

Starting with an 8 a.m. breakfast of doughnuts and orange juice at city hall, the two groups rotated between activity stations led by members of the city crew who work in those areas.

Chaperoned by organizers Paine and Clint Seibel from the city and Ashlee Gann from FACT, the first stop was a tour of the city?s wastewater-treatment and water-production plants.

From there, the groups went to the city shop grounds on the north edge of town for activities hosted by the street and electric departments.

Under the instruction of street staff, students had the opportunity to move dirt in the compost site with the city?s backhoe and front-end loader.

After demonstrating how different-sized light bulbs affect electricity consumption, electric staff took each participant about 40 feet in the air with the extension arm of the bucket truck to drop water balloons at a target on the ground.

On a second truck, students were given the opportunity to maneuver the arm that drives the large post-hole digger used for setting electric poles.

Participants in the second Hillsboro Youth Adventure took time for a group photo at the local Pizza Hut before enjoying a lunch with Mayor Delores Dalke. After the mayor shared information about the responsibilities of city government, students had an opportunity to ask her questions. Pictured are: front row (from left) Makayla Higby, Mackenzie Krause, Mayor Delores Dalke, Victoria Wintermote, Tiffany Shaw; second row, Josiah Driggers, Isaac Goekler, Dereck Hamm, Alex Kerr; third row, Alex Lubbers, Orin Blecha, Jacob Denholm; back row, Clint Seibel, Steven Janzen, Sue Wadkins, Ashlee Gann, Larry Paine.For lunch, the students met Mayor Delores Dalke at Pizza Hut, where they received information about the city and could ask the mayor questions about her job and city government in general.

From there, the groups took on activities organized by the police department at police headquarters and by the fire department at Memorial Park.

Moving the fire department activities to the shaded park after hosting them last year on a hot concrete street, was one of several examples cited by Gann as an improvement in the program.

?I think the city departments definitely improved their activities since they had one year of experience down,? Gann said.

?Everything went pretty smooth, considering we doubled in size,? she added. ?The two groups went pretty easily because we could just flip-flop between stations.?

Student feedback

Gann said feedback from the students was positive.

?Most of them loved the fire department (station) because they got to squirt water at each other with the big hoses,? she said.

?A few of them said they loved the electric department because they got to go up in the bucket and throw water balloons. Several of them mentioned driving the heavy equipment.?

To conclude the day, students met with Paine for an ?idea exchange.?

?We asked them, what would you do differently if you were running the city?? Paine said. ?A number of them said we need more sidewalks so they can safely walk from one place to another without being out in the street.

?One kid said you need to build another police station and fire station.

?One girl didn?t speak in the general session, but afterward she said, ?I?ve got something to tell you. I would like to see more activities for kids that are not sports.??

For Paine, hearing the feedback was a highlight.

?That?s the part that stuck out,? he said. ?It?s not like the kids were clueless. You could tell the experience they had generated some thinking on their part that allowed them to come up with good questions.?

Next month, this year?s participants will get together with last year?s group for an alumni bowling party.

Paine said the gathering is one more way to streng?then the tie between students and their community.

?We?re looking forward to next year,? Gann said.

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