New Teen Volunteer Program

Our Ancient Encounters event this coming Saturday has a new component: a teen mentor/volunteer program. When you visited our booth in the past, you might have noticed teenage volunteers working with us. This year, we decided to formalize the program to provide additional benefits to teens who volunteer. Carol Salva with Spring Branch Independent School District, has kindly given us permission to reprint a blog post she wrote about the program.

STEM VOLUNTEERS, SENIORS BEING TRAINED AS MENTORS
The Archaeological Institute of America, Houston Society (AIA) is partnering with Spring Branch ISD to bring new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and leadership opportunities to students this year.

Volunteer Program
Volunteers are utilized at AIA public events throughout the year.  All 9th through 12 grade volunteers in this program have the opportunity to earn massive volunteer hours for National Honor Roll Society, effusive letters of recommendation for college applications and the opportunity to gain on-the-job experience that will build business skills.  They will also work at the Science Museum and other major institutions throughout Houston; they will learn how to build interpersonal relationship skills with a large variety of individuals and ages and they have the satisfaction of having helped give opportunity to children and the public.  The mentor program, however, takes the volunteering opportunity to a new level for our youth.

Seniors in the Mentoring Program
Seniors from Spring Woods High School and Westside High School arrived on a Saturday to be trained as mentors to younger high school volunteers. Their training involved instruction and teaching methods, proper business etiquette, problem solving, and responsibility for younger volunteers.

Other Opportunities, How To Get Involved
As an educator and parent in Spring Branch ISD, I am grateful for these new opportunities that are available to our community this year.  Many of these seniors are also participating in the multidisciplinary San Felipe de Austin Heritage Learning Project.  In that project, students are collaborating with the Texas Historical Commission and Coastal Environments, Inc. using Science, Technology, History and Math skills throughout an excavation and development of Stephen F. Austin’s first colony which is just west of Houston.  That project is open to any learner or educator and is proving to be highly engaging and enriching for students and the archeological team alike. What we are finding is that these opportunities to work with archeologists are not so much about students becoming archeologists one day.  The real value in these opportunities comes in the form of engagement, relevancy and the realization about how problem solving and their learning play out in the real world.  I founded that project with Dr. Jon C. Lohse, Principal Investigator for CEI.  We are always looking for more educators and students to join in the learning. For more information, visit the website at San Felipe de Austin Heritage Learning Project  or follow along at the San Felipe de Austin HLP Youtube Channel.

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