PEEC: Volunteerism And Youth

PEEC volunteer. Courtesy/PEEC
 
PEEC volunteer. Courtesy/PEEC
 
 
By CHRISTA TYSON
PEEC Volunteer Coordinator
  • You’re never too young to change the world. – unknown

Los Alamos is known as “one of the best places to raise children.”As a parent, I can attest to the blessings this area offers. We have amazing schools, easy access to the natural beauty of our surrounding open spaces, and endless programs geared toward educating, enriching and enlivening the youth here. We have many programs that support and uphold families.

A benefit often overlooked, is the opportunity for the youth of our community to volunteer in a safe, enriching environment. As parents, we talk about volunteerism with our children, yet don’t know exactly where to facilitate the experience.

Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) offers guided and independent volunteer opportunities. We have a strong volunteer program that is essential to the success of the programs we provide. Volunteer opportunities include educational programs and outreach, animal care, computer work and data entry, environmental stewardship/gardening, office assistance and more.

Volunteerism positively impacts the community and it also impacts the volunteer with present and long-term benefits.

Present benefits of volunteering:

  • Youth who volunteer more than one hour a week are 50 percent less likely to abuse alcohol, cigarettes, or engage in other damaging behaviors.
  • When asked, teens say the benefits of volunteering includelearning respect, learning to be helpful and kind, learning to understand people who are different, developing leadership skills and confidence, becoming more patient and understanding, learning problem-solving tools, and a developing a better understanding of citizenship.
  • Youth who volunteer also are more likely to do well in school, graduate and vote!
  • Volunteer opportunities also foster an environment for youth to work with people of different generations and backgrounds, offering a foundation for developing multigenerational respect and mutual understanding.

Long-term benefits of volunteering:

  • Young volunteers are more likely to have a strong work ethic as an adult.
  • Youth who volunteer are three times more likely to volunteer as adults.
  • Close to 80 percent of Americans who have volunteer experiences as youth, are likely to give to charitable organizations as adults.
  • Volunteerism looks fantastic on college applications and resumes and sometimes will help with eligibility for certain school scholarship programs and financial aid. Repeated or dedicated volunteer work demonstrates that youth are not simply participating in the activity for the sake of strengthening their application – they actually care about changing the world. That’s a testament to one’s character that no standardized test score can duplicate.
  • Volunteering can increase happiness at any age. Being a volunteer can expand one’s rview of the world and the problems within it; it also shows youth how hard people will work to solve problems. There’s no better cure for the blues than helping someone.

To learn more about PEEC’s volunteer program, swing by the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Road. Ask to speak with Volunteer Coordinator Christa Tyson or email her at volunteers@peecnature.org.

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