Saving Lives through Youth Guidance & Development

by Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area
Boys & Girls Club Youth Visit the Oregon Zoo
Boys & Girls Club Youth Visit the Oregon Zoo

At the Boys & Girls Clubs we strive to give our youth experiences they normally wouldn’t get the chance to do.  Recently 42 enthusiastic and inquisitive members had the chance attend ZooSnooze, a special overnighter at the Oregon Zoo. The ZooSnooze is a unique wildlife experience where youth who would not normally have the opportunity to visit the zoo are able to spend the night and experience an exclusive, behind-the-scenes evening around inhabitants of the zoo.

Youth were split into small groups, each led by an Oregon Zoo tour guide, and toured several facilities that are usually restricted to zoo staff.  They visited the reptiles, learning about different reptilian species and had the chance to meet and pet a corn snake and a turtle.

Next they viewed the kitchen area where animal foods are stored and prepared and learned about the varying diets of the zoo inhabitants.

Another behind-the-scenes section they had the chance to explore was the animal hospital.  Members were able to get a glimpse of the medical lab and view any x-rays currently on display. They were shown a few special scientific preservations, including a monkey brain and the eye of a rhinosaurus!

The evening wrapped up by viewing a motion picture of enrichment efforts in the Oregon Zoo, and activities used to stimulate the mind and body of each unique animal. These enrichment activities followed into the next morning, as they woke to witness two slender cheetahs receiving their breakfast through a series of challenges.  After that they made rounds to another medical facility at the zoo, a heated incubation room, where they were able visit newborn turtles barely the size of a pinky finger.

Throughout the event, members absorbed their surroundings and marveled at new information and discoveries. They posed challenging questions about the animals and held meaningful discussions with staff and one another. The ZooSnooze was an exciting time of an enriching scientific experience for members.

Up close and personal with the reptiles!
Up close and personal with the reptiles!
The eye of the tiger... er rhino!
The eye of the tiger... er rhino!
The Cheetah challenge.
The Cheetah challenge.

For the past two years, 24 members of the Inukai Boys & Girls Club in Hillsboro, Ore. have participated in the Sea Research Foundation’s Immersion Mentoring Program.  The Immersion Learning Program, founded in 2002 by Dr. Robert Ballard (discovered the Titanic and Bismarck), is an evidenced-based, small-group mentoring program that actively engages at-risk mentees ages 9 to 13 through weekly hands-on ocean science activities.

Whale watching, Sea Lion shows, and a real boat expedition are just a few of the activities Juan and Thurston from the Inukai Boys & Girls Club experienced at the 2015 Camp Hercules Immersion program in Mystic, Connecticut this July.

Camp Hercules invited Boys & Girls Club members from across the country to participate in a 2 1/2 day science and technology mentoring camp. The camp featured fun team building activities, ocean science education experiences, and sea explorations with Club Staff­ mentors and fellow mentees.

All youth had the opportunity to meet a beluga whale, take a ride on the Save the Bay Marine Science boat, get lost in the Ocean Exploration Center, check out the Mystic Aquarium, interact with real scientists, as well as meet other Boys & Girls Club youth from across the country.

Juan and Thurston were selected to attend Camp Hercules based on enthusiasm and accomplishments in the Sea Immersion program, a year-round, nation-wide science and marine biology program that is offered weekly at our Inukai Club in Hillsboro. The program teaches youth about marine biology and ocean science in a hands-on environment through innovative curriculum and field trips. The program is open to all Inukai Boys & Girls Club members grades 4th grade and up free of charge.

Twins Brian & Brandon receive their first paycheck
Twins Brian & Brandon receive their first paycheck

YouthForce is a career development program dedicated to leveling the professional playing field for underserved youth, empowering them to develop a vision for their future and providing them the experiences to believe they can, and the resources and networks to achieve it. 

YouthForce (YF) programs integrate adult coaching and mentoring; skill building workshops and hands on work experience in paid internships to develop the assets and competencies that low income and minority teens need to achieve their educational and career potential.

Our program officially kicked off in March and is possible thanks the generous support of Key Bank.  Interested Club teens, who are in good academic standing, submitted applications and participated in two interviews.  Originally 16 teens were hired, but that number has grown to 21.  The goal is to hire those who normally wouldn't have access to such opportunities; teens who need this chance the most, teens who might be the first family member planning on attending college.

Once hired, teens must commit to attending monthly classes, held at various Boys & Girls Club locations, through YouthForce University which actively expands educational opportunities and engages teens in planning for their future. The workshops and weekly drop in hours prepare teens to develop and achieve their post-high-school plans. YFU includes Financial Literary components taught by Key Bank volunteers.  

Thanks to a partnership with the Portland Timbers Soccer Team, our teens are part of the Team Work Internship Program.  This program offers teens meaningful entry-level work experiences at Providence Park and is supported by adult mentorship, positive peer and professional networks, and on-the-job training. Teens serve as Guest Service attendants during Portland Timbers FC and Portland Thorns FC home games.  

Starting in the fall, our teens will participate in the Career Internship Program which offers teens paid internship opportunities at local businesses supported by individualized training and coaching from YF staff. Career Internships develop teens’ career confidence, professional networks, and builds the competencies that employers want and that equip teens for career success.

The YouthForce program is opening doors to our underserved teens, giving them the opportunity to rise up and have a chance at a successful future.

Scanning tickets
Scanning tickets
Checking in guests
Checking in guests
Enjoying their job
Enjoying their job
Torch Club learning about solar power.
Torch Club learning about solar power.

The newley chartered Inukai Torch Club tied for first place in the Samsung Climate SuperStars Competition. (Torch Clubs are chartered, small group leadership and service clubs for boys and girls ages 11-13, teaching them character & leadership skills which are one of the 5 main core BGC programs.)

For the past few months, Inukai Torch Club has been working diligently to complete the Climate SuperStar Challenge. Torch Club youth completed several rounds of challenges by learning about energy consumption and climate change, visiting a local power plant, planting trees, participating in Earth Hour 2015, sharing an earth friendly project with their Club on Earth Day, and more.  They were Round One winners and the Club received two Samsung Chromebooks.

Throughout the competition there were a total of 28 tasks and all were completed within the allotted time frame.  There were 149 Torch Clubs that competed in this competition (both nationally and overseas) and as one of the ten final round winners, Inukai Torch Club received a Samsung 55” TV. Teen Coordinator, Steven Schutz said, "we learned a lot about climate change and ways to reduce our carbon footprints. This was our first undertaking as a newly chartered Torch Club and I'd say that beating 135 Torch Clubs from around the world is a pretty amazing feat."

The Climate SuperStars is an environmental responsibility partnership between Samsung Electronics America and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The purpose of the contest is to excite young people about helping our environment and global community by lowering energy consumption, conserving resources, and minimizing our impact on climate change.

The Torch Club visiting Solar World.
The Torch Club visiting Solar World.
Planting Trees
Planting Trees
Brian giving his speech.
Brian giving his speech.

We are very excited to announce that our very own Brian was named the State Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oregon on March 19, 2015.  He competed against other youth from all over the state.  He will go on to represent the state of Oregon at the regional level this summer.  Brian was awarded a $5000 check that he said he will use for college. 

Brian has been a member at the Wattles Club since the age of 6.  12 years later he is graduating from high school and has been accepted to two 4-year Universities.  When he entered high school he never thought he would attend college. Brian credits the Boys & Girls Club for his success in high school, sports and the leader he has become. He says the Club inspired him to get active and take leadership roles. He’s the captain of his wrestling team, plays soccer and lacrosse, and has entered the Gresham Fire & Rescue cadet program.

Coming from a single parent family, Brian delt with poverty and financial hardships. 

“Having to move every year because my mom couldn’t pay rent made it hard for me to get comfortable in my community,” said an emotional Cleveland High School senior.  He said the Boys and Girls Clubs of Portland were always there to help with food, shelter, clothing and stability. "The Club gave me somewhere I could go after school. They gave me a roof over my head, food to eat, and a place to play."

“No matter how much I move around Portland, I always know that the Boys and Girls Club will be a place I can call home. The club has made me who I am today."

Bryan is a perfect example of someone that has come full circle in the Boys and Girls Club program.

 

*Due to personal reasons, John Grall, who was the winner of the City competion had to step down. Brian was the runner up in the City Youth of the Year competition, and graciously stepped in to fulfil the role.

Brian with his $5000 check.
Brian with his $5000 check.
Brian with Portland BGC Staff.
Brian with Portland BGC Staff.

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Organization Information

Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.bgcportland.org
Project Leader:
Melissa Froman
Vice President of Special Events & Partnerships
Portland, OR United States
$5,105 raised of $50,500 goal
 
42 donations
$45,395 to go
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