By Chris Bavender
Youth ages 10 to 18-years-old who are interested in becoming part of the Youth Volunteer program at Conner Prairie have until Jan. 6 to apply. The program teaches personal development skills in a hands-on, immersive and fun environment.
“Aside from kids getting excited about history and learning history, this teaches them about communication skills – tens of thousands of guests pass through (Conner Prairie) and they need to be able to talk to them,” said Sarah Morin, youth experience manager. “There are a lot of leadership skills we also try to develop, especially as they get older and can help lead a program or mentor another kid and teach them a skill.”
The program started approximately 45 years ago, Morin said, but was more casual – mostly children of employees dressing up in costume and helping out. Now it is a coveted role with only 100 spots available.
“It is very selective and competitive,” Morin said. “We keep a total of 100 (volunteers) so that means openings are based on who ages out or moves on. There were about 25 new volunteers brought in last year.”
Youth volunteers must commit to a minimum of 120 hours for the year, based around their school and extracurricular activities.
“Although that is the minimum, we do have some kids who get into the hundreds of hours,” Morin said. “The record is last year when we had one who volunteered 1,066 hours. Most range from 120 to mid-200’s and there are maybe 20 who go up to 300 or above.”
Duties can range from helping with the animals, to working on the spinning wheel to dressing up in costume and portraying people who may have lived in different time periods – 1816, 1836 and 1863.
To apply, visit the support and volunteer section at connerprairie.org. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. Jan. 6. For questions about the program, contact Morin at 317-776-6000, ext. 259 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.