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“It was such an upper to see my mentee, who is at an age at which it’s hard to hold still, sitting quietly for long minutes with his arm outstretched in front of him, waiting for a butterfly to alight.” – A mentor from the Milton Mentors! program
On one special day each year, after ECHO closes for the day, the museum and science center opens its doors to kids and their mentors for Community Science Night. This night is an opportunity for mentor pairs from northwest Vermont to explore the exhibits, get involved with hands-on demonstrations lead by the ECHO E-Team (Environmental Leadership Team), and even go on a scavenger hunt! This year, over 100 mentor pairs (more than 200 people) flooded in to experience all that ECHO has to offer.
The E-Team, a group of freshmen and sophomore high school students from Chittenden County, are celebrating their 10th year anniversary. Lead by Noella Krakowski, education programs coordinator at ECHO, the E-Team guided mentors and mentees through the building with a specially designed scavenger hunt, invited guests into the “Butterflies, Live!” exhibit, showcased the Champlain Sea Tank, and challenged mentors and mentees to design zip carts to save turtles.
“The Community Science Night is the time for the E-team to take over the museum,” said Krakowski. “The E-Team selects and designs the activities they want the mentor pairs to experience. It is their moment to highlight the skills they have been developing throughout the school year. I look forward every year to watching the team as they make decisions and develop their ideas.”
In addition to exploring ECHO, mentor pairs get the opportunity to meet mentor pairs from other programs or just spend time together one-on-one.
“I think it was a great opportunity for my mentee and I to do something different and enjoy nature. The butterflies were a definite highlight, we spent a lot of time in the 85 degree pavilion, which was a nice contrast to winter. I was just really grateful that we had the opportunity to enjoy this together.” Laurie Navilia-Miller, Essex FriendCHIPS Mentoring Program
In total, eight mentoring programs were in attendance, including Grand Isle County Mentoring which brought 72 people (almost the entire program) to Community Science Night which serves as their one “outside of school” event for the year. The other programs in attendance were Spectrum Youth and Family Services, Community Friends Mentoring, Essex FriendCHIPS Mentoring Program, Milton Mentors!, King Street Center, Watershed Mentoring, and The DREAM Program.
ECHO goes the extra mile to reach everyone through their ECHO Open Door Program. This program makes ECHO financially accessible to all by “working to find affordable and equitable ways to allow all members of the community to have access to ECHO’s rich services and resources.” It is because of this program that mentor pairs all over Vermont have the opportunity to experience ECHO at a discounted rate any day, not just on Community Science Night. (Mentors can receive this rate by using presenting their Mobius Mentor Discount Card at the front desk.)
To learn more about the event. check out these interviews from NBC 5 with Tom Messner:
For more photos from the night, visit Mobius’ Facebook album!