From the World of Parks and Recreation
By Doug Comer
Any business with big ambitions and a high success rate will agree that expansion can be a key component to the longevity of said business. Whether it is automated auto washes or the local burger joint, growth is always good for the goals of companies.
This business development scheme definitely carries over into many other activities and facilities. In our case, Parks and Recreation has worked along with the Energy Express program for over 20 years now and the opportunity for growth has presented itself in Harrison County, and we quickly jumped at the chance.
“We have been approached to add sites to the Energy Express Program which means we can increase our exposure to the summer reading program that is incorporated with the program,” said Director Mike Book of the HCPR. “We have many challenges ahead of us to make this happen, but I feel confident as we are attacking the issues early and will be ready to open in June.”
The two additional sites are located at Lumberport and Lost Creek Elementary schools. These additions will increase our exposure to another 80 kids that qualify to participate. The 6-week program provides reading so that kids can maintain or even increase their reading levels and provides a nutrition program through family style meals.
The program tries to eliminate the “summer slide” that most students face when kids are not in school. The goal is to continue the growth of the reading levels as well keep kids fed through the importance of a strong food program. Book, who has represented Harrison County for years, has strong feelings about this program and his passion for its success has kept him involved for over 20 years now.
“The importance of this program is needed in order to keep kids active in reading and that is something that I personally take great interest in. Our family-style breakfast and lunches gives the kids a chance to open up and talk about whatever is on their mind. We sit in groups and talk about anything from activities to the weather. Our numbers have been strong and the program works,” said Book.
With the increases in sites, this means more opportunities for positions as mentors come into play. These mentor positions not only gives you a chance to get a feel for what teaching is, but it is beneficial to the pocket book as the money earned is broken down into pay plus scholarship for your school.
The 8-week commitment is something that is not taken lightly as the scholarship could be revoked if you cannot go the full term without an excused absence. A branch of AmeriCorps, this program is a full commitment for the entire term, just like if you were in the work force after your schooling is over. For Book, he does not consider this a normal 9-5 desk job, but more of a chance for you to stand out from the crowd as he explains.
“We have had professors from major colleges refer students to our program simply because they use it as a means to stand out. Employers see the AmeriCorps program on resumes and they see that there is a commitment from those who apply. Lawyers and nurses are just a few of those who have participated in the program.”
The mentors will have a class of eight students all in the same grade and the daily activities include reading, enrichments, as well as other things like the arts. It is a very relaxed atmosphere as the program is recognized more as fun and less as school.
Interviews are starting to take shape now for those interested. However, if you are a graduating senior 18 or over or a current college student looking for a chance to make a few dollars for school, then we may have a spot for you. Please contact the parks office for more information.