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Moose Youth Awareness program helps keep kids on right track

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Seeing a moose on the Kenai Peninsula is no uncommon thing. But seeing a moose talking to kids at their classroom is.

In this case, the moose in question are not enormous antlered ungulates that tend to wander onto roads, but rather four Kenai Central High School students who are looking to give elementary school-age children a head start on developing good decision-making skills. The Moose Youth Awareness program visits area schools to offer KidsTalk to those between the ages of 4 and 9 for 25-minute sessions.

"You can reach kids better if you use teen-agers instead of adults because they look up to us," said sophomore Mariah Meeks. "You talk to them about drugs and alcohol if they're older kids, or for little kids, maybe good and bad choices or listening to your parents. This year I'm doing mine on respect."

The program has been running on a national level since its founding in November 1986 in Chicago. Dick Hultberg, a member of the local Moose Lodge No. 1492 who works with the program, said Robert Daymude, a member of Lodge No. 1534, started the program in North Pole. He said the peninsula lodge has run the program five or six years, and the program, statewide, has taken off.

"The Alaska lodge has been running the program since the early '90's," Hultberg said. "Its one of the few very successful programs."

Hultberg said every lodge has youth awareness as part of its six goals.

 

The members of Kenai Central High School's Moose Youth Awareness group are, from left, Kari Palm, 16 and a sophomore, Leticia Haynes, a 17-year-old junior, Kylee Vienna, 16 and a junior, and Mariah Meeks, a 16-year-old sophomore.

Photo by JAY BARRET

"This is the biggest thing under our goals," he said. "I got into it and I wanted to do more than just send them up to Anchorage."

Meeks and Kylee Vienna began working with the program last year. Leticia Haynes and Kari Palm started this year. Each November, the group is sent up to Anchorage for training. The three-day training teaches them how to talk to younger children and how to listen to and answer their questions.

"It also teaches them self-image and self-respect," Hultberg said.

Hultberg said he wanted to choose students from the area and went to Kenai and Nikiski schools in search of candidates. He didn't find anyone interested at Nikiski, but he said he found a veritable gold mine at Kenai.

"Kenai is kind of neat because they have a leadership class," he said. "So I had all the good kids right in front of me."

Hultberg said the number of students in the program is dependent on how much money the lodge raises. He said he set out with a goal since he took over and has been meeting it since. The lodge pays for the plane tickets for the students to go up to Anchorage and for spending money.

 

Kari Palm, a 16-year-old sophomore at Kenai Central High School leads ___ Severson's class at Aurora Borealis Charter School through an exercise as part of her involvement with the Moose Youth Awareness group.

Photo by Marcus K. Garner

He said the men in the lodge are responsible for raising funds, and the women make the arrangements for each of the schools the students visit. He also said he had an idea in mind for rewards for students.

"My goal was to get a scholarship," Hultberg said.

This year, each of the students will receive $500. The money will be put into an escrow account until the girls graduate. He said there is also a chance for the girls to participate in a statewide contest in which their reports from each visit are judged by lodge members. The winner wins an additional $500 scholarship.

Hultberg said he hopes to be able to do more in the future, like recruiting more students.

"I would like to get a guy," he said. "I just didn't get any bites."

The moose youth members said they are happy just to get the experience with the children.

"I like to be out in the community," Vienna said. "You see them out and they recognize you. It's great."

Vienna, a junior, said she wants to go into youth ministry or child psychology.

Haynes, a junior, plans to go into law, and said she is eager for a chance to get to kids before they get into trouble instead of after the fact. She said she was happy to give kids a tangible positive influence.

"This lets us give them more positive role models than just celebrities," she said.

Palm, a sophomore, is interested in becoming a pediatrician, and she said she often talks to kids about proper diets when they are young.

"I'll get them to talk about eating well and taking care of their bodies," she said. "They're extremely excited when we come and a lot of times they're like, 'Oh, so you don't do those kinds of things' when we tell them about not doing drugs."

Haynes said she wants the children they see to get an understanding that not all teen-agers are

See MOOSE, page B-3

angry or depressed.

"When my older sister was in high school, I thought she was grumpy all of the time," Haynes said. "So I know how they feel."

Vienna said she wanted the children she saw to understand what's possible without starting bad habits like getting involved in drugs and alcohol.

"I hope they learn they don't have to be addicted to anything," she said. "I want them to see the things I can do because I do make good choices."

HEAD:Moose Youth Awareness program helps keep kids on right track

HEAD:Students helping students

CREDIT:Photo by Marcus K. Garner

CAPTION:Kari Palm, a sophomore at Kenai Central High School, works with students in Mike Severson's third- and fourth-grade class at Aurora Borealis Charter School as part of her involvement with the Moose Youth Awareness program.

CREDIT:Photo by Jay Barrett

CAPTION:The members of Kenai Central High School's Moose Youth Awareness group are, from left, Palm, Leticia Haynes, a junior, Kylee Vienna, a junior, and Mariah Meeks, a sophomore.

BYLINE1:By MARCUS K. GARNER

BYLINE2:Peninsula Clarion

Seeing a moose on the Kenai Peninsula is no uncommon thing. But seeing a moose talking to kids at their classroom is.

In this case, the moose in question are not enormous antlered ungulates that tend to wander onto roads, but rather four Kenai Central High School students who are looking to give elementary school-age children a head start on developing good decision-making skills. The Moose Youth Awareness program visits area schools to offer KidsTalk to those between the ages of 4 and 9 for 25-minute sessions.

"You can reach kids better if you use teen-agers instead of adults because they look up to us," said sophomore Mariah Meeks. "You talk to them about drugs and alcohol if they're older kids, or for little kids, maybe good and bad choices or listening to your parents. This year I'm doing mine on respect."

The program has been running on a national level since its founding in November 1986 in Chicago. Dick Hultberg, a member of the local Moose Lodge No. 1492 who works with the program, said Robert Daymude, a member of Lodge No. 1534, started the program in North Pole. He said the peninsula lodge has run the program five or six years, and the program, statewide, has taken off.

"The Alaska lodge has been running the program since the early '90's," Hultberg said. "Its one of the few very successful programs."

Hultberg said every lodge has youth awareness as part of its six goals.

"This is the biggest thing under our goals," he said. "I got into it and I wanted to do more than just send them up to Anchorage."

Meeks and Kylee Vienna began working with the program last year. Leticia Haynes and Kari Palm started this year. Each November, the group is sent up to Anchorage for training. The three-day training teaches them how to talk to younger children and how to listen to and answer their questions.

"It also teaches them self-image and self-respect," Hultberg said.

Hultberg said he wanted to choose students from the area and went to Kenai and Nikiski schools in search of candidates. He didn't find anyone interested at Nikiski, but he said he found a veritable gold mine at Kenai.

"Kenai is kind of neat because they have a leadership class," he said. "So I had all the good kids right in front of me."

Hultberg said the number of students in the program is dependent on how much money the lodge raises. He said he set out with a goal since he took over and has been meeting it since. The lodge pays for the plane tickets for the students to go up to Anchorage and for spending money.

He said the men in the lodge are responsible for raising funds, and the women make the arrangements for each of the schools the students visit. He also said he had an idea in mind for rewards for students.

"My goal was to get a scholarship," Hultberg said.

This year, each of the students will receive $500. The money will be put into an escrow account until the girls graduate. He said there is also a chance for the girls to participate in a statewide contest in which their reports from each visit are judged by lodge members. The winner wins an additional $500 scholarship.

Hultberg said he hopes to be able to do more in the future, like recruiting more students.

"I would like to get a guy," he said. "I just didn't get any bites."

The moose youth members said they are happy just to get the experience with the children.

"I like to be out in the community," Vienna said. "You see them out and they recognize you. It's great."

Vienna, a junior, said she wants to go into youth ministry or child psychology.

Haynes, a junior, plans to go into law, and said she is eager for a chance to get to kids before they get into trouble instead of after the fact. She said she was happy to give kids a tangible positive influence.

"This lets us give them more positive role models than just celebrities," she said.

Palm, a sophomore, is interested in becoming a pediatrician, and she said she often talks to kids about proper diets when they are young.

"I'll get them to talk about eating well and taking care of their bodies," she said. "They're extremely excited when we come and a lot of times they're like, 'Oh, so you don't do those kinds of things' when we tell them about not doing drugs."

Haynes said she wants the children they see to get an understanding that not all teen-agers are

See MOOSE, page B-3

angry or depressed.

"When my older sister was in high school, I thought she was grumpy all of the time," Haynes said. "So I know how they feel."

Vienna said she wanted the children she saw to understand what's possible without starting bad habits like getting involved in drugs and alcohol.

"I hope they learn they don't have to be addicted to anything," she said. "I want them to see the things I can do because I do make good choices."



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