More than 50 student volunteers in Northern Vermont University-Johnson’s Upward Bound program celebrated their service projects, working with North Country Animal League and the Lamoille Family Center.
The students unveiled a 16-foot-long piece of artwork that sends the message “You Are Beautiful.” The message is easily visible to anyone driving by the family center’s headquarters on Cadys Falls Road in Morristown.
Four speakers acknowledged the hours of service dedicated to both organizations.
Julia Skonicki, the family center’s development director, gave background on the You Are Beautiful movement, a nationwide campaign to bring at least one piece of artwork to every state. The center is currently hosting the only Vermont piece, and the campaign is becoming so popular that it is now expanding globally.
The movement aligns with the center’s mission to recognize, support and celebrate individuals in the community so that all feel acknowledged and loved.
Skonicki encouraged the students to see that they are now part of this community initiative to support Lamoille children and families and make a lasting impact on their lives.
The students also redesigned the play yard using funds from a Rise VT grant and built nature cameras and crank-lights for the center’s Story Stroll.
Carlee Brion of North Country Animal League spoke about the important problem-solving skills the students used to overcome challenges, gather donations, and build a play yard for the animals at the shelter.
She also thanked them for designing and engineering a “selfie cam” for the adopters and their new pets so the community can break the stigma that the shelter is a dark and gloomy place, helping the public to understand that it’s actually a place full of love and cheer.
Katarina Lisaius from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ office read a letter from the senator and presidential candidate.
Lisaius also acknowledged the opportunities the Upward Bound students were taking advantage of in developing and strengthening their skills. She commended them on their service projects and their attention to community needs.
Kylie Trimm, an Upward Bound student who also spent three days shadowing the staff at the Stowe Reporter, drew cheers from her peers when she spoke about service-learning.
“This experience made a profound impact on us all,” Trimm said. “We’ve learned a lot, about the community and about ourselves.”
The students then presented their projects to guests, discussing the processes of trial and error, inquiry and design.
One STEM student summarized his experience: “We learned about growth mindset — that even CEOs and people with Ph.D.s make mistakes, but they just keep trying.”