By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A number of local students took to the podium in the banquet room of the Morinville Inn and Suites Wednesday night to speak to the Morinville Rotary Club about their experiences over the past year, experiences they had thanks to Rotary-sponsored trips.
Club president Syl Haisan said nine students participated in seven different Rotary adventure trips, all part of Rotary’s commitment to vocational service, one of the international service organization’s four avenues of service.
Over the past year Rotary has sent students to the Adventures in Firefighting program in Vermillion, Adventures in Canadian Citizenship program in Ottawa, Adventures in Agriculture in Regina , Adventures in Technology in Saskatoon, the Northern Experience program in Yellowknife, as well as two additional Rotary programs – Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) and Rotary Youth Program for Enrichment (RYPEN).
“Different clubs go to these areas and they have students from all across our district,” Haison said, noting that the Morinville club is part of a district that covers Alberta north of Red Deer, as well as Yellowknife, the North West Territories and parts of British Columbia.
The travel opportunity was open to students from Morinville Community High School, Sturgeon Composite and Redwater School. Students applied for the programs, were interviewed by Rotarians, and those who best fit the criterion were selected to go. Wednesday evening’s meeting was an opportunity for the students to share their experiences as well as express their gratitude to the organization that sent them.
For 17-year-old Morinville volunteer firefighter Michael Gouthro, the experience was a rewarding one.
“It was a really good experience because I got one of my fire courses which I need if I want to pursue this as a career,” Gouthro said, adding that he had the opportunity to make a lot of friends while participating in the program in Vermillion.
Rotarian Kathy Sandmaier said approximately 11 applicants were interviewed for the Adventures in Firefighting trip. “It was tough,” she said of selecting the candidate. “He shone through above them all.”
But Gouthro was not alone in being singled out as a candidate for a Rotary-sponsored trip, nor the only student to benefit from the experience.
Sturgeon Composite student Chris Eyben was sent to Saskatoon this past April to participate in the Adventures in Technology program, an experience that took students on a journey from examining the cutting edge technology of First Nations’ history to cutting edge nanotechnology that allows for the creation of a motor the size of an ant’s eye.
“It was definitely very interesting,” Eyben said of his experience. “I’m really interested in the sciences and want to go into mechanical engineering. Seeing how all of these things are used and seeing technology put to good use was quite interesting.”
But while Eyben’s Rotary experience may well shape his post secondary educational goals, for some students, like Legal university student Jacob Onyschuk, the experience of going on a Rotary-sponsored trip has already lead to solidifying long-term plans. Onyschuk was selected for the Adventures in Agriculture program two years ago and is currently working towards a degree in animal science at the University of Alberta.
“It was a really inspiring time for me,” Onyschuk said of his Adventures in Agriculture experience. “I was just in Grade 12 and wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do. But it definitely confirmed my interest to work and pursue a career in agriculture. It definitely was the launching point of my career.”
Onyscuk was presented with an RBC Dominion Securities Education Award at Wednesday night’s Rotary meeting, a cheque for $750 to help with his educational goals.