Passing the Baton
Face it, we’re handing the next generation a bag of challenges to deal with. I won’t go into listing some of them, instead let’s switch our focus to the next generation, and the one after that and do something positive to help them as they grab the baton. After all, if we’re to cash in on tomorrow’s promise for our world, we need to help the youth of today.
For the most part, I think we’re doing a decent job of giving them an academic preparation. But that’s like thinking someone knows how to drive after they’ve read the manual in a car glovebox. It’s the experiential aspects of handling the wheel that I think deserve our focus. I feel one of the best ways to give the next generation that experience is through mentoring, sharing insights into our own experiences, asking them probing questions and listening . . . especially listening.
So, what are the opportunities right here in Nebraska and beyond. I’ll begin with those recommended by Lincoln’s Downtown Rotary club. On their website they list TeamMates, Big Brothers Big Sisters, City Impact, 4-H, and Junior Achievement. Do a search and you’ll see Mentor Nebraska, SCORE Lincoln which is business focused, Mentoring Plus and the Nebraska Chapter of the Association for Talent Development. And, let’s not forget Girls Scouts and Boys Scouts, programs that have connected adults with youth for many years. So, lots of opportunities and absolutely no excuse for you to say you can’t find a program that fits your capabilities.
No doubt you’ve heard about TeamMates, founded by Dr. Tom Osborne. I participated in this program and spent time with a young man from Cuba, helping him stay focused so he would graduate from Lincoln High School. And, recently, I read about a friend, Sarah Kausel McCurley being inducted into the TeamMates Hall of Fame and how she’d worked with a young woman since 7th grade. “If you are considering being a TeamMate, I highly recommend it. They offer support, training and the time commitment is about 1 hour per week — and it feels really, really good.”
I recommend Junior Achievement. They offer opportunities for you to touch the lives of elementary, middle and high school students. I’ve had so many rewarding experiences during my time with JA, including my annual visits to Julie Wisdom’s 6th grade at Cathedral School. And, there’s nothing that will give you a rush like a room full of 2nd graders yelling “Hi Papa Randy” when you walk into their room.
I’ve also engaged with an international project called Moonshot Pirates. Go ahead, look them up, you’ll be impressed. They connect motivated high school students in nearly 100 countries with talented mentors who agree to meet with them at least twice a month for four months. I’ve worked with students from South America, Africa, Europe and Asia through this program. Not only do I feel I’ve been able to help and encourage them, it’s been a real growing opportunity for me to get to know the incredible young leaders of tomorrow from across the globe.
If, like me, you’ve garnered a number of experiences that have shaped you through your career, then get involved in mentoring some leaders of the next generations. I promise, it will be rewarding. All it takes is a bit of your time and a willingness to give back.