Sixth graders from West and Central Middle Schools had the opportunity on February 6 to tour the Muscatine Center for Strategic Action. The students are part of the Ricochet program.

The Ricochet program is a group of students selected by teachers and counselors. These students have shown leadership potential but, before now, have not had an opportunity to use or develop that potential.

Naomi DeWinter, president of Muscatine Community College, explained what the goal of Ricochet is. “We want to work with 6th graders before they enter middle school. It’s a time that you can still influence them and reward positive behaviors, and grow them into leaders and teach them leadership skills that they can take on to their later years.” The group meets once a week and follows a planned leadership curriculum through Iowa State Extension and Outreach.

Charla Schafer and Maggie Curry spoke to the students about what MCSA does and gave them a tour of the facilities. The students were able to ask questions and learn about MCSA and how they can help. Schafer said, “The work that the kids are doing and evaluating the different programs in the community that they could support is outstanding. The fact they’re showing leadership and they want to reach out and impact the community, for kids their age, that’s an amazing thing to see and we support that in any way that we possibly can.”

The field trip was sponsored by Monsanto. Chris Boar of Monsanto said they believed visiting MCSA would be an influential experience for the students. “I have worked with MCSA for many years doing community outreach with Monsanto, and MCSA is just a phenomenal place. They have so many services. I thought it would be a broad range of things for the students to see where they could use their skills and help out.”

The hope of Ricochet is that the program will give students opportunities to shape their future for the better. Schafer said, “What’s interesting is the decisions they’re making today and the choices they’re making in leadership roles are already impacting and changing the community for their future. And we couldn’t be more pleased to be part of that.”