Twenty-five-year-old Diamond Dunn ran her fingers through sand and shredded plastic to create a path that mimics the stream of the Missouri River behind her.
Another student turned the water valve to let water flow through. Dunn, along with other YouthBuild members, participated in a water channel simulation at the second annual Stewardship on the Missouri River event, an educational program designed to involve YouthBuild program members in service learning.
YouthBuild is a nonprofit program under Job Point and provides professional, educational and practical skills to income-eligible youths ages 16 to 24 without a high school diploma.
Dunn said she moved to Columbia with her mother at age 13 and got involved with YouthBuild seven months ago.
Carrie Brown, career development and placement specialist for YouthBuild, said the program exposes members to career and education opportunities through college, trade school and business visits.
“This is exposure in many ways, because the reality is all kids need somebody,” Brown said.
YouthBuild teamed up with Missouri River Relief, a nonprofit dedicated to river cleanups and educational events, for a second year to create opportunities for YouthBuild members to explore career opportunities, participate in educational programs and clean up the river. Steven Smith, Job Point president and CEO, said both YouthBuild and Missouri River Relief are “all about education.”
Activities at the event Wednesday included guided bird-watching tours, presentations about types of nets, watercolor painting and a land-based trash cleanup.
Kristen Schulte, education director for Missouri River Relief, said the plan was to take raft boats on the river and clean up along the shores, but because of the river’s flooding, they could not.
“A lot of the presenters that they are going to interact with today have a variety of different career paths and all work for different organizations and agencies,” Schulte said.
Dunn said she enjoys events like Stewardship on the Missouri River because she likes teamwork activities, picking up trash around the river and doing the stations together.
YouthBuild Director Jerrell Morton said the event is a networking opportunity for members to meet others in the program from across the state. YouthBuild members from Kansas City and Columbia attended the event.
“To know that you’re not alone in your plight to do something different is one of those humbling experiences of where we can lean on each other,” Morton said.