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Since 2011, St. Joseph's Lakota (Sioux) 6th, 7th and 8th graders have had a new opportunity to broaden their horizons: the Explorers Club.
The Explorers Club is a group that helps middle school boys learn valuable life skills such as leadership, community service and how to come together to reach a common goal. They also learn much more, such as tying a tie, why it’s important to be on time and even the occasional dance lesson from founder Doug Knust, a local business owner and member of St. Joseph's Board of Directors.
"I like to stress leadership in Explorers and I love to watch these young men develop their leadership skills," said Knust. "There is no better way to develop those skills than to serve others. They do a wonderful job of that — they serve their school, their community and each other."
Since the group was founded by Knust in 2001, more than $90,000 has been donated back to the community.
Each year, the young men vote on which community service projects they want to work with. Past projects include helping raise funds to make renovations to Explorers field (a local baseball complex largely funded by the group), building a fishing pier and raising money for local families struggling with illness or injury.
"Each weekly meeting is a learning experience for the guys," said Nate, a St. Joseph's staff member who coordinates the boys' participation. "They learn to follow Parliamentary Procedure, how to conduct themselves during meetings and to be geared towards service. They have learned to plan activities such as dances and community service projects. They also learn to work together and help in other community projects. We’ve even had St. Joseph's boys serve as officers. It’s an awesome group to be part of."
After all their hard work, the Explorers also make time for fun! Each year, the group travels to Pierre, South Dakota, to see their state government in action during the legislative session. Members of government are always more than happy to meet with the young men and thank them for the work that they do to help their local community. At the end of the school year, if funds allow, they take a trip to a major league ballpark and enjoy a weekend with friends enjoying America’s pastime.
Pilamaya — thank you — for making opportunities like these possible for St. Joseph’s students!