(Source: Brett Lund) Head Start program kids gather to listen during story time at Antelope Island's ranch.
(Source: Brett Lund) Children with the Head Start program gather for story time at Antelope Island’s ranch Saturday.

Volunteer Wildcats spent their weekend with the buffalo during a service project organized by the Davis Service Programming Board of the Weber State University Student Association.

On Saturday morning, students worked with the community partner Head Start to provide breakfast and a morning of activities for children on Antelope Island.

“Head Start is a preschool school-readiness program that is specifically set up for families that come from lower-income situations,” said Brett Lund, the Head Start Fatherhood Initiative and volunteering coordinator. “It’s a wonderful program that provides for a lot of children that otherwise wouldn’t have opportunities to be ready and at level when it’s time to go into kindergarten and elementary school.”

This event was primarily aimed at engaging fathers or father figures and their children in the Head Start program. Attendants had a Dutch-oven breakfast, listened to a children’s story, built bird feeders and went on a scavenger hunt.

At the end of the scavenger hunt, the children were each rewarded with the same book they heard for story time. Lund said providing the children with the book serves as a way of encouraging reading at home and emphasized the importance of a parent’s role in building literacy skills.

“When you see a child that looks so happy just because Dad’s there hanging out with them and spending time with them, it’s always fun,” Lund said.

(Source: Brett Lund) Head Start program members are served a Dutch oven breakfast on Antelope Island.
(Source: Brett Lund) Head Start program participants line up for a Dutch-oven breakfast on Antelope Island on Saturday.

Skyler Nguyen, the service coordinator at the Davis campus, organized the event. Nguyen said he loves working with children, which is one reason he chose to partner with Head Start.

“We wanted to have a fun event on the weekend so that the parent and the kids can hang out together,” Nguyen said. “A lot of these kids coming from low-income families don’t have a lot of opportunity to go to fun places like Antelope Island. They go to school and they go straight back home. Some of their parents have to work a lot of hours, so they don’t have a lot of fun stuff going on for them, so we wanted to provide something fun.”

Head Start serves about 533 families, and around 250 people participated in Saturday’s event.

“My favorite part was definitely just working with the kids and having fun with them,” Nguyen said. “It was just a fun day.”

Bella Rivera, coordinator for traditional students at the Davis campus, gave out the books to children who reached the end of their scavenger hunt.

“I love to help out in the community and I just love people, so I felt really good helping out the Head Start program,” Rivera said. “Hopefully it made a difference.”

Nguyen and Rivera said they encourage students to take advantage of service opportunities like this.

“My main focus is helping out people in the community and sharing my time with them,” Rivera said. “You feel good about reaching out to the community and serving others, and it looks great on your resume.”

Nguyen suggests that students interested in volunteering contact the Center for Community Engaged Learning or the Office of Student Involvement & Leadership.

“There’s a lot of service opportunities available right on campus,” Nguyen said. “If students are ever interested in getting volunteer hours or getting involved in projects, there are always opportunities.”

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