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.

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.

Celebrating Mentoring At Our 2015 Mentor Appreciation Dinner

Each year Bridges Mentors and Advisory Board Members donate thousands of hours back to their community. In addition to getting together with their mentees for at least four hours per month, our volunteers also help us with fundraising efforts. We are always grateful for our volunteers and and for the families that open their homes to our mentors. Together, they make mentoring in Mitchell County possible.

We try to plan our annual Mentoring Appreciation Dinner during January to coincide with National Mentoring Month. It seems like the perfect time of year to celebrate mentoring in Mitchell County. This year, we returned to City Limits Eatery located in Saint Ansgar, Iowa. They are generous hosts and made a huge effort to provide a special evening.


Together, we enjoyed a spaghetti supper complete with their salad bar, freshly baked bread, and dessert. This dinner is just one small way we can say thank you to our volunteers each year.


We’d also like to thank Shop on State for their 2015 grant which helped to sponsor this dinner.

Mentor Collage

The designation of January as National Mentoring Month is a huge opportunity to tell our communities about mentoring. Jim Cross, a reporter at the Mitchell County Press News, recently wrote two fantastic articles this week about one of our mentor-mentee matches and our new Creating Pathways to Nature programming.

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.

What Have Our Mentors & Mentees Been Up To Lately? Winter Edition

We’re starting out the New Year with snow storms and sub-zero temperatures in North Iowa. We’re accustomed this Midwestern winter weather and it doesn’t stop us from having fun. Here are some of the activities our mentors and mentees enjoyed this winter. There’s always something to do in Mitchell County.

Office Winter Pic edited

  • Browsing Pinterest for craft ideas. Creating a special board to save ideas for another time.
  • Attending a mentee’s wresting meet at school.
  • Enjoying dinner at mentor’s house.
  • Wrapping Christmas gifts together.
  • Making Christmas cards and delivered them to a local nursing home.
  • Swimming at the Cedar River Complex.
  • Completing a lot of holiday baking! Lemon bars, no bake cookies, frosted sugar cookies
  • Playing video games and watching movies.
  • Studying for an upcoming test.
  • Catching a movie at Watts Theater.
  • Playing board games at Kountry Kupboard Cafe and Taste.
  • Attending the Bridges archery event at the Mitchell County Nature Center.

January Reminder:

01/31/15 Winter Survival Day Camp: Mentors are invited to take their mentees to our second “Creating Pathways to Nature” event, Winter Survival Day camp. This event will take place at the Nature Center in Osage between 9:30-1 pm. Activities depend on the weather, but may include ice skating, cross country skiing and igloo building. The Nature Center is also equipped with comfortable, indoor facilities complete with a restroom and full kitchen. Mentors and mentees can pop inside to warm up over a glass of hot chocolate as needed. Lunch is provided.

Questions or concerns? Contact us or give us a call at 641-732-3566. We are always happy to find a time to connect in person.

Our First “Creating Pathways To Nature Event”: Archery

Earlier this week, we kicked-off our first “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.

Our first event took place at the Nature Center. Mitchell County Naturalist Chelsea Ewen provided us with a lesson in archery. Not only does she teach archery at the Nature Center, but through Osage Public Schools as part of gym class.

archery photos Lesson Group

After she taught us essential archery safety guidelines, we all got to try using the bow and arrows.

Archery Sue and mentee

Our mentees demonstrated impressive effort and skills. The mentors also gave archery a try and both hit some bullseyes. We also enjoyed dinner together. The Nature Center is equipped with a full kitchen in which we prepared a baked potato dinner complete with all of the toppings.

Potato Bar edited

We invite our mentors to take their mentees back to the Nature Center on Saturday, January 31st between 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. for Winter Survival Day Camp. Don’t worry! We won’t be stuck outside all day. There will be plenty of opportunities to warm up with hot chocolate inside the Nature Center between activities like ice skating, cross country skiing and igloo-building. Plus, we’ll also serve lunch. RSVP to Lacey at lwaller@nicao-online.org.