Just because school’s out for the summer doesn’t mean kids can’t still learn new things.
More than 320 children gathered Monday in Coffman Park for Dublin’s first-ever Youth Service Day.
The kids, ranging from 6 to 12 years old, rotated among eight stations over five hours. Activities were geared toward conservation and service, such as making suet blocks with seeds for native birds, testing water quality in the pond and watching a wood-chipper demonstration.
The learn-and-serve day grew out of Global Youth Service Day in April. Shannon Maurer, the city’s volunteer coordinator, said organizers wanted to engage as many children as they could, so she began planning a day in the summer when a lot of kids would be participating in the recreation center summer camps. Kids from those summer camps participated in the service day.
“This helps them feel like they’re a part of something,” said Hallie Eichenberger, a camp counselor. “They’re understanding that they can and do make an impact in the world.”
With a budget of about $1,000, Maurer said, the project wouldn’t have been possible without the many volunteers running the event. Groups including the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, which ran a session on the importance of recycling, participated as part of their community outreach programs.
“I learned a lot about recycling and compost,” said Payton, an 8-year-old camper. “If you’re not being nice and recycling, it’s bad because you’re hurting Mother Nature and killing animals’ homes.”
Tim Fleischer, a city horticulturist, ran a session in which kids interacted with a variety of plant species, such as smelling lavender and touching ginkgo leaves. He said activities like that allow kids to experience and appreciate nature in a new way.
“Some of the plants smell good,” 9-year-old Sohan said. “It’s fun playing with them and seeing nature.”
Maurer said she plans to hold the event in the coming years based on Monday’s success.
“It’s important for kids — and everyone, really — to learn how to coexist and safely interact with wildlife and nature,” she said.
Originally published for The Columbus Dispatch on June 25, 2018.