RIGHT: More than 200 local mentoring pairs attended Community Science Night at the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain on March 23. Members of Milton Mentors are pictured at the museum, L to R: (back row) Jim Reid, Mariah (15), Cyndy Turmel, Terry Melton, Ruth Murphy, coordinator Sophie Duncan, (front row) Lucien (9), Dakota (14) and Maddy (13). (Courtesy photo)

More than 200 adult-to-youth mentoring pairs from the Chittenden County Mentoring Network celebrated science last month at the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain.

The Burlington institution hosted the free Community Science Night on Thursday, March 23 for adult mentors and youth mentees from eight mentoring programs – including nine members from Milton’s – in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties.

Sponsored by ECHO’s Open Door Program and Mobius, Vermont’s Mentoring Partnership, the event featured an open exploration of the museum’s exhibits, a scavenger hunt, hands-on demonstrations led by the ECHO E-Team and free pizza from Domino’s served by volunteers from the University of Vermont’s Tri-Delta chapter.

The event’s featured exhibit was “Butterflies, Live!,” which boasted an interactive sanctuary where mentoring pairs got face-to-face with live butterflies.

“The ECHO event was a huge hit with our mentors and mentees,” Milton Mentors coordinator Sophie Duncan said. “Everyone was entranced by the butterfly
exhibit, and mentors and mentees alike loved exploring the variety of exhibits.”

“It was such an upper to see my mentee, who is at an age at which it’s hard to hold still, sitting quietly for long minutes with his arm outstretched in front of him, waiting for a butterfly to alight,” one mentor added.

The E-Team, a group of freshmen and sophomore high school students from Chittenden County, are celebrating their 10th year anniversary. They are guided by Noella Krakowski, education programs coordinator at ECHO. Community Science Night featured the E-Team guiding mentors and mentees through the building with a designed scavenger hunt. They also invited guests into the “Butterflies, Live!” exhibit, showcased the Champlain Sea Tank and challenged mentors and mentees to design zip carts to save turtles.

“The Community Science Night is the time for the E-team to take over the museum,” Krakowski said. “The E-Team selects and designs the activities they want the mentor pairs to experience. It is their moment to highlight the skills they have been developing throughout the school year. I look forward every year to watching the team as they make decisions and develop their ideas.”

The CCMN is a network of adult-to-youth mentoring programs in northwestern Vermont, supporting more than 1,000 mentor pairs.  Mobius is a non-profit organization that provides support for nearly 140 mentoring program sites and the 2,300 mentor pairs they support across the state. For more information about mentoring programs in the CCMN and throughout Vermont, visit www.mobiusmentors.org.