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Tiger Talk: Tiger Pride Service Day is a win-win for all

On the morning of Friday, May 23, Pine River-Backus High School students left behind the usual school day routine and entered their community to engage in a day of service learning.

Two hundred-plus students, and a handful of dedicated volunteers, served alongside staff in one of 18 different projects. It was the first ever Tiger Pride Service Day.

Looking back, there were plenty of tangible and easy-to-identify results: A beautifully painted mural, gardens planted, highway cleanup and more. And that’s not to mention the several hundred hours of work saved for local businesses and organizations — the equivalency of around 10 full-time work weeks.

But the collective effect was more intangible. Sitting down to the community luncheon that followed, there was a genuine sense of enjoyment among students and staff, and a feeling that something was accomplished.

Some might ask why a day like this was ultimately necessary. Why use a school day to not be in school? The answer is bigger, and more important, than some might think.

First, an event like Tiger Pride Service Day is an opportunity to give back to a community that has given so much to youth and their education. Many local businesses, organizations and individuals have repeatedly given time, money, effort and passion. The few hours of dedicated service were a small, but important, payback.

Second, participating in service learning provides students with a different kind of education for a day. These social and community interactions are highly important to youth development.

In addition, colleges and employers now put a premium on experiences that include volunteer service. In the competitive markets of today, events like this help to distinguish local youth.

Finally, events like Tiger Pride Service Day help to create more opportunities for interaction between students and their community. That sort of interface is crucial. Youth are often the biggest stakeholders in a community; their future is directly connected to how much a community supports them, and how often they’re able to connect back. A service day is a small step in that direction.

There were a lot of takeaways on Tiger Pride Service Day. For some, it might be the worked accomplished. For others, it may be the relationships built or strengthened.

But perhaps the most promising part was this: Staff, students and community members making references to “next time.”

Pine River-Backus High School would like to thank the following for their role during Tiger Pride Service Day: the Pine River Family Center, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, The Warehouse, Trout Lake Camps, Camp Foley, Pine River Public Works, Central Lakes Rotary, the Good Samaritan, Cass County 4-H, Happy Dancing Turtle, Pine River Area Foundation and the numerous others who had a hand in making this event a reality.

A special thanks is due to the Tiger Pride Service Day sponsors: Hanneken Insurance, Hunt Utilities Group, Happy Dancing Turtle, Camp Foley, the Good Samaritan, Pine River Dairy Queen and the Pine River Family Market.

Here’s to next time.