IAM Local 1956 H.E.L.P.S. Minnesota Ecology Center Summer Camp

IAM Local 1956 volunteers donate their time to help Minnesota’s Prairie Ecology Bus Center, a non-profit environmental education center in Lakefield, MN, as part of the IAM Midwest Territory’s “IAM H.E.L.P.S. in the Community” program.

Members of IAM Local 1956 are doing their part to help the environment and make their city more “green.”

Volunteers from the local recently donated their time to help Minnesota’s Prairie Ecology Bus Center (PEBC) in Lakefield, MN, a non-profit environmental education center focused on helping residents of southwest Minnesota understand and appreciate the natural wonders in their own backyards.

One way PEBC accomplishes this is through their Garden Club, a summer camp that teaches children the ins and outs of gardening – from planning their garden to planting to watering their crops. Children are each given a 4′ x 8′ plot which is theirs for the summer.

IAM Local 1956 volunteers helped clean the garden plots, saving children time to focus on their summer-long harvest.

The initiative was done as a part of the IAM Midwest Territory’s “IAM H.E.L.P.S. in the Community”

program. IAM H.E.L.P.S. stands for Honoring, Engaging, Lifting, Providing and Servicing. The program focuses on the Territory’s continued efforts to provide essential support to the communities in which we live.

“[The children] only meet for two hours each week from now until the end of September,” said PEBC Executive Director Alisha Paplow. “Normally it takes us 2-3 weeks just to clean their garden plots. Having members of IAM Local 1956 help us this past Saturday saved the kids time so they can now focus on planning and planting their garden beds. We all greatly appreciate the hard work these members gave to us!”

IAM Local 1956 volunteers help clean garden plots for the Minnesota Prairie Ecology Bus Center’s Garden Club, a summer camp that teaches children the ins and outs of gardening.

This project started with a conversation between IAM Local 1956 Shop Steward Jeff Paplow
and Local President Kirby Kruse.

“In years past, I would help out at the center, me and a friend of mine. It would take us 11 hours and we still weren’t done,” said Paplow. “So one day I was talking about it to Kirby and he
thought it would be a great idea for the Local to take part. We brought it to the membership in March and planned to hold the event in April.”

“The center could not have been more gracious,” said Kruse, “but the biggest reward was
seeing the smiles on the Garden Club kids’ faces, realizing they didn’t have to do all that work themselves. The kids were really grateful.”

“As the DBR of this District,” said IAM District 77 Directing Business Representative John Steigauf, “I am extremely proud of the work these members did and the impact it is making in their community. This is definitely a model for the rest of the District.”

Because of the volunteer time put into this project, the Ecology Center plans to attend Local 1956’s Membership Engagement Picnic in August. The center will bring its “Ecology Bus,” a state-of-the-art school, mobile scientific laboratory, and classroom designed to educate
children and adults about the environmental and natural sciences.