Bridges First Annual Chili Challenge Cook-Off

Nothing gets amateur chefs simmering under their aprons like a good, old fashioned chili cook-off. The Mitchell County Bridges Mentoring Program held our first annual chili challenge on Sunday November 1st 2015. The event was held at the Cedar River Complex Events Center located on the Mitchell County Fair Grounds. Bridges was given a $250 donation from the CRC Foundation to help with rental costs. A huge thank you to all donors.

The fundraiser took place of Bridges annual omelet breakfast held in November. All proceeds from the cook off go to the Bridges Mentoring program to continue helping children and families in Mitchell County.

We had 7 teams enter in the competition with the hopes of increasing those numbers next year. Competitors were given a baseline of rules to follow to enter in the competition. All ingredients from this event were donated by the contestants as a part of signing on to participate. Bridges mentoring provided the basic utensils, bowls, napkins etc. Below are some pictures of a couple teams.

Team Red Hot Chili Preppers

Team Road to No Where

Team Road to No Where

Each entry was judged on texture, flavor, spice/taste, aroma, and color. Awards were given in the following categories- Overall Grand Champion, Most Unique Flavor and an overall People’s Choice award.

Attendee's taste testing chili.

Attendee’s taste testing chili.

The panel of six celebrity judges included: Head judge Jessica Goodale, owner of Taste. By Unc’s, along with Osage Mayor Steve Cooper, MCEDC Director Brenda Dryer, Osage School Superintendant Barb Schwamman, and Mitchell County Police Officers Jeff Huftalin and Brian Wright.

Our panel of volunteer judges.

Our Panel of volunteer judges

Winners Included Grand Champion Brian Fangmeier and Tim Blake of Team O.F.D (Osage Fire Department); Most Unique Flavor- Kim Lewis and Abbi Rodemaker on Team Dynamic Duo and the People’s Choice Award- Nolan Byrnes, Scarlett Byrnes and Emily Malizweski on Team Kids Rock.

Grand Champion Team O.F>D

Grand Champion Team O.F.D

Most Unique Flavor Winner Team Dynamic Duo

Most Unique Flavor Winner Team Dynamic Duo

People's Choice Award Team Kids Rock

People’s Choice Award Winner  Team Kids Rock

A number of activities were available for children including mini golf, pumpkin painting, ring toss, apple bobbing and face painting.  The Osage Fire Department Auxiliary graciously donated homemade bars for attendees to enjoy.

In addition to having the opportunity to taste test some great chili, attendees had their first chance to purchase Marvelous Mentoring Meals tickets for the coming year. Tickets are still available to purchase for some events.

This event could not have been possible without the support of the Bridges Advisory Board members, as well as the many volunteers who helped make this event a success. We are looking forward to planning next year’s chili cook off as well as making as continuing to impact for the benefit of children in Mitchell County.

For more information regarding the meals or becoming a mentor with the Bridges Mentoring Program, contact Waller at 641-732-3566 or visit our office at Our Saviors Lutheran Church 833 Ash St, Osage.

Bridges Travel’s to Wabasha, MN for our Third “Creating Pathways to Nature Event”

On June 7th 2015, Bridges kicked off our third “Creating Pathways to Nature” event as part of a collaboration with the  Milton R Owen Nature Center. The Foundation for the Enhancement of Mitchell County (FEMC) generously funds all seven of our events we are offering for mentors and their mentees.

Our third event took place at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN and to Lark Toys in Kellogg, MN.  The National Eagle Center is a world-class interpretive center located on the banks of the Mississippi River. They are home to five rescued eagles, four bald eagles and one golden eagle. During this visit we were able to experience these magnificent creatures up close.

National Eagle Center Building

Upon arrival we checked in and received a sticker stating that we had access to the center all day long. We were able to explore the two floors of displays and exhibits, view wild eagles from the observation deck and visit the gift store.

Many of our mentee’s stated that the best part was viewing the 4 live eagles that they had on their observation deck. One of the bald eagles spotted another eagle outside of the building and was very territorial by making their territory call. It startled a few people as it was loud and took people by shock how they communicate to the outside world since they are in captivity for their safety. Many of our mentors favorite eagle was the golden eagle Donald. Donald had to be sat on the same perch each day as he does not like change or looking out the window. It gets him nervous and agitated. He has a glossy color and was absolutely beautiful.

NEC Observation PIc

Eagle Observation Deck

Eagle Observation Deck

At 11:00a.m.  we attended a live eagle program with our Naturalist Educator and Avian Care Specialist Jennifer. Have you ever wondered” How much does an eagle weigh?” “How Big is their wingspan?” The answers were given during the program as we were engaged through hands on interaction shared biology, ecology and natural history of bald and golden eagles.

During the live eagle program we had the honor of meeting one of the bald eagles Angel. Angel came to the National Eagle Center in 2000. She has been found on the ground with a broken wing in Wisconsin. She was just fledging and had been surviving on scraps of fish from nearby herons nests.  Angel was the eagle that had a loud vocations on the observation deck as she heard some wild eagle’s pass by the windows of the eagle center. During this live program, viewers were able to watch her eat. She was fed a dead rat. Some of our participants were a little queasy by the end of the program. Our naturalist stated that bald eagles do not like the taste of fur. So as they are eating they will pick apart their food and spit the fur out. They could spit the fur as far as to the back of the room if they were startled or something they didn’t like caught their attention. The naturalist also described migration and that many eagles migrate back and forth between their numerous nests. They do not have a long term mate, many people believe this to be true. They prefer to return home to their favorite survival nests. If you have never been to the eagle center you definitely should attend a live program as you will learn many things you never thought were possible.

Angel

Angel

A group shot of all our mentors and mentees

A group shot of all our mentors and mentees

Interesting facts learned at the center.

  • The average wingspan of an eagle ranges from 6-7.5 ft.
  • How much does a bald eagle weigh? Weight varies depending on latitude and gender. Generally males weigh approximately 25% less than females from the same area. The average weigt of a female bald eagle is 10-14ibs Southern bald eagles tend to be smaller than those in northern parts of their range. For example in Alaska, females might weight up to 18ibs, wheras eagles in Florida can weight as little as 6-8ibs.
  • Why is the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN? Wabasha has long been a wintering area for bald eagles. The Mississippi River remains open year round due to the fast current in the area. Many eagles migrate here for the winter to take advantage of open water and abundant food resources.
  • What are the leading causes of eagle mortality? Eaglets in the nest may die from falls, starvation or sibicide. About 50% of eaglets will not reach one year of age. Once fledged, many eagles die from impact injuries, starvation, disease and lead poisoning.
  • How many feathers does an eagle have? An eagle has over 7,000 feathers.
  • How much can a bald eagle carry? A bald eagle can carry about 1/3 its body weight. Eagles are powerful predators that can catch and kill prey many times their own size. However, they are unable to fly carrying more than just a few pounds.

Again we were super blessed to have such a great turn out for this trip. Stay tuned for our second blog post on our second half of our trip to Lark Toys, in Kellogg, MN.

Just this month, we’ve received many inquiries from people who were interested in learning more about becoming a mentor. Every match makes a huge difference in encouraging healthy youth development in Mitchell County. We’re happy to meet with anyone who’d like to learn more about mentoring, from families to prospective volunteers. Contact our Program Coordinator Lacey for more information.

Mentoring Myths and Realities

Bridges has been looking for new ways to discover first hand knowledge about mentors and mentee’s. I asked questions about myths and realities.  Some of the adults who mentor are often freaked out that I would ask them questions about their concerns about mentoring when they first started, I would hear things like. 

“I don’t know how to relate to a teen”

” I don’t have enough time,

 “I can’t help someone else out right now when I can’t even help myself” 

” I can’t devote time and attention to another child when I struggle to pay attention to my own kids”

But with some simple training and check in’s  throughout the year for support, the adults are begging to mentor again the next year!

What the adults don’t know is that kids get freaked out too.  Kids who are told they are getting a mentor say things like,

“Are they going to judge me?”

“Why? I will have no time to meet with them” 

“Is my mentor going to buy me lots of stuff” 

“Do I get to choose what we do for an activity” 

But by the end of the mentoring year and we discuss re-matches,  the youth are often so proud of their relationship with their mentor. A lot of times I hear the mentor say, that they don’t know what their life would be like without mentoring.” I feel honored and proud to be a mentor because I get to give back to a child who needs an extra role model in their life”.  Bridges philosophy has always been that every child needs a mentor. It is very rewarding to hear mentors, community members, politician’s, and reporters say that Bridges is benefiting the communities we serve. 

Here are some myths that adults have about being a mentor:

MYTHS:

“We will become best friends” 

” I will be able to see them each week” 

“Their parents will be so grateful for me getting involved in their child’s life” 

“My mentee and I will never have any problems’ 

REALITY: 

It is hard to get kids or parents to return phone calls, texts, or emails, yet once we finally got in touch everything went well. A lot of times our mentors pair up with a another  mentor match to share stories and plan an exciting outing. 

Myths that kids have about the mentors:

MYTHS: 

” I don’t’ know this person so why would I spend time with them? It’s going to be weird.” 

” I am afraid they will tell me what to believe” 

” I am afraid that they will have high expectations of me” 

REALITY: 

Our mentors liked that their mentor was interested in them and not their parents. Mentors do tell you what they believe and encourage mentees to strive for success and to gain positive self esteem and confidence. 

The reality is there’s a place for mentoring in the lives of youth, one that has a historic place in the life of our communities.  We don’t expect the mentors to do all the preparation it takes to mentor.  In fact, we expect Bridges to offer support, insight, activities, fundraisers and togetherness, and what better way to do that than through mentoring?

 

 

What Have Our Mentors & Mentees Been Up To Lately?

It has been a while since we last updated our readers on what our mentees and mentors have been up to lately. We normally like to share examples of activities each month, but these last couple months have been quite crazy with staff changes.

These last couple of months have been filled with new mentor/mentor matches and of course plenty of re matches. It has been a lot of fun seeing the goals the matches reached and  hearing the successes and challenges they faced this last year.

For the children, the most important part is spending time with their mentor. And for the mentor it is seeing the daily progress each child has made throughout their mentoring adventure. So what have the mentor matches been up this winter?

  • Des Moines Symphony Concert 

Gwen and Sharon

Our mentor Sharon took Gwen to a Symphony in Des Moines, IA. Gwen’s mom shared the picture and stated “Gwen and Sharon couldn’t be a better match. I feel like Gwen is a mini Sharon. I was almost thinking they may be related as they resemble each other in this picture.”

  • Home Made Sock Monkeys 

Karina and Claudia

One of our newest matches that was completed in November is Karina and Claudia. These two couldn’t be more a perfect match for each other. They have made many fun things, a highlight activity has been making these AWESOME sock monkeys. When Karina and Claudia first met, Karina stated that Claudia reminded her a lot of what she used to be like when she was a child. Claudia is a very smart shy girl, living with her dad. She said at our first Creating Pathways to Nature Event that she was excited to be a part of the mentoring program.

Some other activities included:

  • Swimming at the CRC
  • Ice Fishing
  • Roller Skating
  • Attending Bridges Creating Pathways to Nature Winter Survival Day Camp
  • Attending mentee wrestling matches
  • Built a snowman
  • Went to a movie
  • Basketball camp
  • and so much more. 

As you can see mentoring is so rewarding for both the adult and the youth. If you have any questions or concerns about mentoring in Mitchell County contact us at http://bridgesmentoring.com/contact-us/ at any time. Please keep us updated on your favorite events, crafts and recipes.

Our Second “Bridges: Creating Pathways to Nature Event” Winter Survival Day Camp

At the end of January we kicked off our second Bridges: Creating Pathways to Nature Event as part of a collaboration with the Milton R Owen Nature Center. The Foundation for the Enhancement of Mitchell County (FEMC) is generously funding all seven events we are offering for mentors and their mentees and nature packs ($100 value) that each mentee who attends three events is eligible to receive.

Mitchell County Naturalist Chelsea Ewen provided our mentors and mentees with a lesson in Winter Survival as well as tools and instruments they can take a long with them in the car in case of an emergency. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate as far as our original plan for the survival camp of activities that included sledding, snow shoeing, ice skating and more. We made up for it though and had a fabulous time learning other things about winter time. Once the overall lesson was completed we put on all out outside gear to go outside and explore. Mentors and Mentees were challenged with the following activities listed below.

  • Geocaching/Compasses (do an animal track treasure hunt) Learning about wintertime animals (using the tracks from the geocaching) and doing a study on hibernation and keeping warm in the winter. We divided everyone into teams of 2. The mentees had a lot of success locating the objects from their treasure map which included deer tracks, dog tracks, pine cones, berries, trash, birds nest, etc while the mentors had better success locating the hibernating animal.
  • CHelsea is teaching everyone how to work their electronic cum pus. .

    Chelsea is teaching everyone how to work their electronic compass.

    The mentees were far a head of the adults as they were having such a great time on the trail through the nature center.

    The mentees were far a head of the adults as they were having such a great time on the trail through the nature center.

    Here Ashley found a hibernating beer track.

    Here Ashley found a hibernating bear track.

    After the geocatching activity we went inside to warm up a bit and enjoyed some hot chocolate and learned more about the activities and programming that the nature center offers throughout the year. Please keep in mind, that in part of our grant collaboration with the nature center our mentees are able to attend any nature center event/activity for the rest of the year at a discounted price.

  • Jello Critter Shelter Building (mentees and mentors have to build a shelter to protect their “critter” from the cold. Many of our attendees buried their critter in the snow or under a piece of wood or miscellaneous scraps that were laying around. One of our mentees discovered a hole in the ground and that is where she buried her critter. We discovered that her critter would have survived the longest as it was surrounded by snow, grass, and the ground which was great for keeping the critter cold.
    Tori with her jello critter next to the spot where she built it's shelter.

    Tori with her jello critter next to the spot where she built it’s shelter.

     

  • Fire Starting – Here everyone was in pairs again as they learned how to start a fire outside. We gave each pair a small pie tin, laundry lint, a magnesium fire starter (looks similar to a lighter, but you have to make it work by hand). Everyone gathered the grass, sticks, leaves, etc that they felt were necessary to start a fire. Everyone was able to start a fire, the trouble was keeping it lit.
  • Cooking over the fire– Chelsea and her assistant started a fire outside in the fire pit. This is where everyone was taught how to make apple crisp dessert over the fire. This dessert was delicious and only few ingredients are needed. It would be a great thing to make while camping.

1. Cast Iron Pan

2. One box of spice cake mix

3. Canned sliced apples

4. 1 stick of butter

5. Tinfoil

How to prepare the Apple Crisp Dessert.

First make sure the fire has a steady flame.

Coat the entire cast iron pan with tinfoil.

Rub the butter on the tinfoil until it is evenly coated. Once coated just keep the butter in the pan.

Pour in your canned apples on the bottom.

On top of the apples pour your cake mix.

Cook anywhere from 15-30 minutes until the apples are soft and the cake mix has melted.

WSC 8

Everyone enjoying their apple crisp dessert

We invite our mentors and mentees on a bus trip to Living History Farms in May (date and time TBA). As always if you have any interest in becoming a mentor please contact Lacey at lwaller@nicao-online.org.