Nonprofit Symposium enlightens students on volunteer opportunities

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Nonprofit Symposium enlightens students on volunteer opportunities

Most visiting nonprofits at the symposium offered resources for students interested in volunteering.

Most visiting nonprofits at the symposium offered resources for students interested in volunteering.

Liam H. Flake

Most visiting nonprofits at the symposium offered resources for students interested in volunteering.

Liam H. Flake

Liam H. Flake

Most visiting nonprofits at the symposium offered resources for students interested in volunteering.

Liam H. Flake, News Director

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For the duration of the school day on Monday, October 29, the U.S. Composition and Literature classes of Benjamin Degear, Kristin Rust, and Timothy Hanauer hosted a nonprofit symposium in the Fossil Ridge High School media center. From 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., booths representing nonprofits and charities from across the county lined the floor, inviting Fossil students to learn more about potential volunteer opportunities and charitable work being done in the area.

Liam H. Flake
Fossil student Collin Mangum learns from a representative about a local nonprofit.

Among these booths were Allison Kistler and Hannah Krikorian, representatives from the Gardens on Spring Creek. Their station featured pamphlets and packets of seeds that were handed out to students. During the event, the program appeared to garner interest from students. Kistler described that many students were interested, stating, “I know a lot of high schoolers have volunteer hours, so I’ve been pushing that.” Despite this, both representatives were surprised to find that only three of four students that visited the booth had been to the Gardens on Spring Creek before.

Liam H. Flake
Between students, nonprofit representatives chat amongst themselves.

Though opportunities in the Gardens are fading as winter takes hold, chances to volunteer will become abundant next fall, particularly with the Garden of Lights. At this event, the Gardens are decorated with lights and open from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. every night of December. Additionally, community service opportunities will become available as the Gardens unveil their newest expansion: five new acres, including a stage, foothills gardens, and a butterfly conservatory. However, most volunteers will find work in events, upkeep, and outreach. “Most of the volunteer hours are within things like running booths for our Halloween Enchanted Garden, or just helping out in the horticulture team, so pulling weeds, or planting in our expansion,” Krikorian provided, “or education; they always need volunteers in the sense of leading tour groups of kindergarten through fifth graders.”

Liam H. Flake
Students were provided the opportunity to visit booths for information regarding a variety of local nonprofits.

Another organization attending the symposium was Hearts and Horses, represented by Emmy Soyka. Hearts and Horses is a nonprofit based in Loveland that uses horseback riding as a therapeutic means. “Essentially, we use the process of learning how to ride a horse and having a relationship with the horse to learn skills that our riders can use for the rest of life as well,” Soyla explained. The program works with kids and adults with disabilities, as well as veterans and with youth, to learn social and emotional skills. At the symposium, Soyka helped to expand knowledge of the organization and to educate students of available volunteering opportunities. “I’d say maybe half of the students have heard of us before, but not heard too much, so it’s nice to give them a little bit of additional information,” she stated, describing student reaction.

Liam H.Flake
An interested student investigates community service opportunities.

Any student who signs up to volunteer for Hearts and Horses, Soyka explains, begins in the orientation. “That’s mostly what’s happening right now, it’s just information about that,” she offers. The orientation covers all available volunteer positions, and from here, volunteers can choose which role to fill. “We see about 40-50 volunteers a day, so there’s a lot of things to do.” These positions and tasks range from working with the riders and training the horses to working with the horses in various other ways. “Whether you come in with experience or not, we have a lot of training to help you learn how to work with the horses,” Soyla provided.

Liam H. Flake
One prop exhibited was the “bite hand”, a device brought in by the Larimer County Humane Society that is used to gauge and rehabilitate aggressive dogs.

Over the course of the school day, many students were able to stop by the symposium and learn about a variety of opportunities. There were a diverse range of nonprofits represented, appealing to a wide variety of student interests. To learn more, visit the website of any local nonprofit or look for next year’s symposium.