The Biggest Shed in Skagit Valley

“What is in a watershed?” Mount Vernon Boys & Girls Club members pondered this question recently during a visit from the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group. Kids suggested objects as small as insects and as large as mountains only to find that all of those objects can be found in the Skagit Watershed, the region that feeds into and affects the Skagit River. As one member commented, “that must be a really big shed!

The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County includes helping youth become caring and responsible citizens. For the kids at the Mount Venture Boys & Girls Clubs, they learned more about responsible citizenship by playing games. The constructed their own “river” by placing together their drawings of the Skagit River side by side to create a line. Then, Keelin Maurmann and Emily Jankowski from the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group asked each kid to pick up an item from around the room. Flanking both sides of their “river,” the kids passed all of their items to the person standing next to them until one person at the end held all of the items. The activity helped them visualize the accumulation of items in the Skagit River and helped them understand how littering affects salmon populations.

“Kids are incredibly intuitive,” says Nathan Allen, Director of STEM Initiatives for Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County. “They understand how throwing trash on the ground affects the water which affects salmon population. More importantly, they’re young enough to avoid any bad habits and to make a lifelong positive impact on the environment.”

Environmental education creates citizens who understand their impact on the world around them and helps to protect local businesses who rely on natural resources throughout the Skagit Watershed. Through educational opportunities like the visit from Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group, Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County not only help serve youth but help protect another vulnerable population, the salmon in the Skagit River.

Pop-up Library brings books to the Anacortes Club

Throughout the year, Club Members at the Anacortes Boys and Girls Club had the opportunity to spend an hour reading every day, thanks to a local partnership with the Anacortes Public Library, who were able to provide some special reading opportunities for youth through their Pop-up Library Program. The program began last summer, and was so popular that they decided to continue into the school year.

Children’s Librarian Leslie Wilson, visits the Anacortes Boys & Girls Club on a regular basis to host the Pop-Up Library. The system uses a new web-based library catalog that makes it possible to take library services out into the community.

Wilson said that they started doing Pop-up Libraries in May at a STEM event at the Middle School. And that it is surprisingly easy. “All we need is internet access. The Pop-up Library enables us to check out books, place holds, provide member info, issue new library cards, and more,” she said. Wilson explained that thru their weekly visits to the Club during the summer, they were able to streamline the process.  “The program has really improved. It helped us figure out what worked and what didn’t, really fine tune the program.”

The Pop-up library was also very popular with the kids. “What I liked about the pop-up library was that we got to check out books without going to the real library. I also liked hearing the different stories Leslie read to us,” said Club Member Alaea Cerrillo. The Boys and Girls Club has a library of books that the kids can choose from, but the Pop-up Library expanded their choices.

“I could tell how excited the kids were, because of how patiently they waited to check out their books. We run choice-based programs at the Club, so there are activities going on simultaneously. Lots of kids were choosing to look at the library books that were brought in and check out new ones for next time.” said the Club’s Marketing Director, Tammy Findlay.

Wilson explained, “The Club members really enjoyed being able to request books. It was great seeing how excited kids were getting them. It also helped us really tailor the program to meet the kid’s interest.” Some of the most popular requests included Guinness Book of World Records, Pete the Cat, and graphic novels.

Mount Vernon Club receives new HVAC units

This past summer, in the middle of a heat wave, the Mount Vernon Boys & Girls Club’s aging A/C and Heating units decided to call it quits. The financial impact facing the non-profit organization serving hundreds of kids was daunting. With Summer in full swing, and with kids in programming from 7am-6pm daily, CPI Plumbing & Heating came to the rescue. CPI began work immediately to look into repairing the units, donating their time and labor.

After many attempts and hours of work it was determined that the units would have to be replaced. CPI HVAC Manager Steve Murray immediately began working on finding a solution, working with local companies to make the replacement possible. They reached out to Gensco Inc. requesting that they donate the HVAC system, and Gensco agreed to donate two new units! The installation also required a crane, and Barnhardt Cranes was able to provide the crane free of charge. On October 5th, all three came together to complete the installation. When the project was complete, CPI’s leadership and advocacy resulted in $14,514.64 of labor and equipment donated to the Boys & Girls Club.

“Our experience with CPI has been wonderful. They showed a willingness to go above and beyond what was expected to help out the Club and the kids.” said Club Director, Angela Freeberg. “We survived the heat of the summer, and are also extremely grateful to them for our nice warm Club as the days get colder!”

Burlington Club Youth Tour Police Department

Officer Josh Murdock of the Burlington Police Department visited the kids at the Burlington Boys & Girls Club for some on-the-spot fun this summer, dropping in for game of dodgeball, and recently, he took members on a VIP tour of the police station.

It’s a bit of a walk to the Burlington Police station from the Club at Maiben Park, but officer Murdock was there to help chaperone, making sure drivers slowed down, and kids could cross the streets safely. Upon arrival, officer Murdock spent some time showing the kids all of the tools on his belt, and talking about how they are used. One thing youth were surprised to learn that officer

s are exposed to pepper spray as part of their training. He also explained that the tools on his belt are there to keep him safe and other people safe, and that he has never fired his gun outside of training at the firing range. He showed how his two different sets of handcuffs work, and later, even showed how fast he can apply them. Staff Program Coordinator, Andrew Flores was soon rendered immobile, but was a good sport about the demonstration.

Officer D. Pehrson came out for a quick visit before heading out on his traffic beat. He gave a snapshot into a typical day on the force. He said that morning he had responded to a house alarm that turned out to be a false alarm, and that he found a dog and returned it to its owner.

Inside, youth met Officer Mike Lumpkin, who admitted that he was aware that his last name was a lot like Pumpkin. This got the kids laughing. He gave the out a gift of cool mood pencils to the kids. Then they visited the holding cell area, and the control room, where they saw all of the traffic cameras, and officer Murdock showed them how he could control them remotely to show a different view. Outside, officer Murdock opened up a Chevy Tahoe police cruiser and turned on the siren. At the end of the tour, he shook each member’s hand and asked what they had learned from the tour. One thing that was impressed upon the children, was that just because
someone makes a mistake, it doesn’t make them a bad person.

“It’s important for our kids to have a positive relationship with Law Enforcement. Police are here to protect and help us. Interactions like these help build trust among the kids, that they can rely on first responders should the need arise,” said Manny Smith, Director of Operations for the Clubs. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County would like to thank the Burlington Police Department for taking the time to interact with and educate Club youth.

Burlington Club visits the Fire Station

Club members enjoyed a walk to the the nearby Burlington Fire Station to learn about a day in the life of a firefighter and how they can improve on their fire safety knowledge. Burlington Fire & Safety Educator, Erica Littlewood and the group spent some time in the station’s learning center where they covered subjects such as, having a fire escape plan with your family, smoke alarms, and what to do if fire gets on you. This last interactive lesson was a favorite among the kids as Littlewood placed felt flames representing fire on a Club member volunteer, who then demonstrated her “Stop, Drop, and Roll” skills. Littlewood expressed that she was impressed with the their knowledge, saying “I appreciated this group’s thoughtful questions, comments, and answers to my questions.”

Next, youth visited the kitchen, where Firefighter Keith explained that firefighters cook and enjoy their meals together. Firefighter Brad quipped, “Not everyone here is allowed to cook.” Then youth went to the large garage where all the emergency vehicles and equipment is kept. Firefighter Eric dressed in full gear complete with an air tank, helmet and mask. “His voice voice sounds funny in there, doesn’t it,” said Firefighter Brad. “If there’s a fire and someone sounds like Darth Vader, that’s a firefighter coming to help.” Firefighter Keith explained that because of heavy smoke, a firefighter needs the air tank to breathe, and they will sometimes crawl on hands and knees to be able to see, and stay out of the thickest smoke. Kids were able to try on some of the protective equipment and discovered that it is very heavy and warm.

The visit concluded with an in-depth tour of the fire engine, and each youth got to try their skill on the fire hose. Firefighters rolled out a miniature barn with flames on top. Each Club member shot the hose, aiming to knock down the flames. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County is grateful to the Burlington Fire Department for all the service they provide the community, and for taking the time to educate and visit with our Club members.