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Locals start young professionals club

Posted: April 29, 2012 - 8:40pm

Stephanie Musgrove and Tracy Pitts have known each other since middle school. They both participated with their fathers in the Soldotna Rotary Club. A year and a half ago, they were brought together again by a message on Facebook, and ever since, have been at the helm of a club of their own — River City Rotaract.

“I moved back to town about a year and a half ago and was looking for something to get involved with,” Pitts, 25, said. “I always enjoyed community service and have been active wherever I lived.”

Pitts found the River City Rotaract page on Facebook, and sent them a message asking how she could get involved. She had no idea who was on the other side.

“I didn’t realize it was Stephanie,” she said.

The two are co-presidents, and have been working towards establishing the club aimed at young adults from 18 to 35. They hope the group will help give young adults the tools they need to make community changes.

“It’s really cool to have some projects in mind and have activities for people that are your own age that are a positive influence in the community,” Pitts said.

Musgrove estimates about 10 members come out consistently for group meetings and about 30 people have shown interest in the group.

Musgrove said she originally started the club as a way to branch out and do her own thing with people her own age instead of always doing activities with her parents.

“It’s different when you find a niche of a group of people your own age, that was kind of the reason why a group like this was important for this kind of community,” Musgrove, 26, said.

Musgrove said the first meetings took place back in October of 2010, but has just started to take off a year later.

“That’s when we got to establishing our club with Rotary International,” Pitts said.

The club’s first big project is under way. Their goal is to build a disc golf course in Soldotna.

“(It’s) kind of like our baby since we’ve been coming together,” Pitts said. “It’ll be really rewarding to see things actually happen and some changes made and to have positive activities for people our age in this community.”

The disc golf course idea was what piqued Noah Shields’ interest. He really enjoyed playing disc golf in the Lower 48, and in Kenai after he moved back from college. Since Shields, 30, lives in Soldotna, the drive, he said, is OK, but if there was a course in Soldotna, it would be much easier to access.

“So when I heard they were thinking about putting one together, I wanted to get involved in that,” he said.

For Shields, the project’s leader, it’s not just about wanting to play disc golf — there are other aspects of the club he values.

“(The part of) Rotaract that I really enjoy is connecting with other young adults and doing something in the community and doing something for the community,” he said. “It’s something very valuable, but also something I think we all really enjoy doing that’s going to be a lot of fun for everyone.”

Shields has partnered with the Tsalteshi Trails Board, and said the board is allowing them to install the course on the trail system, but first a new trail at Tsalteshi must be constructed.

“This is something the community is already looking for,” Shields said about the course.

As far as the club dynamic goes — it could be considered laid-back.

Their meetings are more of a roundtable discussion of what’s going on, what the members want to see, and just a time to socialize, Pitts said.

To come back to the Peninsula and doing something for the community she grew up in is not something Musgrove sees as going above-and-beyond, she said.

“Growing up in Rotary and growing up with the service aspect of your general life, it’s nice to know because now it’s not like I’m tagging along doing stuff with my dad,” she said. “Now we’re the ones driving the bus and we get to decide what we want to do and what projects we want to focus on.”

Pitts said they wanted to develop an identity as a young people’s organization in the community.

“We have a lot of people that have expressed interest (in the club), they live here, and are about our age and are looking for a young professionals organization,” she said. “(We’re) all like-minded in the idea that we want to make a difference in the town that we care about a lot.

“Who else than the people that grew up here that would be open to what this community needs.”

Shields agreed with Musgrove and Pitts. The three attended different schools growing up — but now they’re together for a common purpose.

“Even though we all went to different schools growing up, we all went out and got our degrees and then came back to the community,” he said. “I think that’s a central pull that brought us all together was that community-mindedness.”

Much like the cogs of the Rotary wheel, Pitts said, it takes everyone working together.

Logan Tuttle can be reached at logan.tuttle@peninsulaclarion.com.

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