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Student Volunteers – A Lesson on Motivation

IMG_7220 (1)There has been much ado about motivation and grit, and the benefits of them co-mingling in the mind of one person.   According to Daniel Pink in his book Drive:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he states, “The most deeply motivated people – not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied – hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves” (132).

Most Idaho students are motivated to enjoy their “prime summer time.”   Summer is a time to float rivers, ride horses, hike to fishing holes, work on the family farm, go to the fair, and generally, be an Idaho kid.  However, there are a few individuals who find volunteering their summer hours as a great way to make connections with other kids, and to find personal satisfaction as well.  They find “purpose” in volunteering.  

The Twin Falls Boys and Girls Club knows all about these “mythic kids.”  They have two high school-aged volunteers who volunteer their time…all year long.  

Fernando Garcia will be a 10th grader at Canyon Ridge High School and has been a Junior Staff member at the Boys and Girls Club since his 8th grade year.  Garcia explained that he is “responsible to make sure kids are safe and having fun.”  And he takes that responsibility very seriously.

IMG_7205 (1)While the Boys and Girls Club has paid positions for high school-aged staff, Garcia isn’t worried about the money.  “I want more college-like experiences.  My goal is to be an F.B.I. agent and work on computer security.  I like what I do here because I think I motivate kids to want to be better.”

Dakota Hettenbach will be an 11th grader at Twin Falls High School and nodded in agreement while Garcia spoke.  Hettenbach added, “I could go bag groceries but I’d rather be here with the kids and having fun with them.”

Boys and Girls campers experience field trips weekly, including trips to the local pool, hikes in the canyon, movie dates, roller skating, trips to Jump Time, and V.I.P. campers go zip lining in the canyon.  

Hettenbach laughed when asked about how he profits from volunteering.  “I learn from these little kids.  They teach me about science and history…they know a lot.  And they teach me really good jokes!”

Garcia agreed, “It (volunteering) gives me more self confidence.  I learn things here and take it back to school with me, and when I learn things in science class, I bring ideas back here to the kids, especially when we have science camps.”   Garcia is a self-made, educational cross-pollinator.

The conversation was cut short by two little campers looking for their favorite Junior Staffers.  Grinning, one of the boys named Corbin pointed at Hettenbach and blurted, “He’s my friend!”  Hettenbach laughed, “I trade him chocolate milk for jokes.”

Motivation is an elusive trait.  As classroom teachers and educational leaders, harnessing that trait may be at first like imagining a “magic feather,” but with time, might be the key turning point for classroom learning, and a trigger to help kids figure out how to “fly on their own special set of wings.”  

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