Northfield has long been known as a city of philanthropic muscle, but Bill Steele believes there are efforts often overlooked from one demographic: college students.
Steele, owner of EcoTrans , an environmentally friendly shuttle service based in Northfield, has a service called Van-Go!, which provides transportation services for about 120 St. Olaf College students. Many of those students are receiving rides to a variety of volunteering, mentoring, tutoring, civic engagement and work-study programs.
Wanting to give the students some recognition, Steele decided to hold a competition of sorts that involved interviewing students to ask about their contributions, which range from volunteering for Northfield Public Schools to the Northfield Retirement Community to the Northfield Arts Guild.
"The main idea is to inform the community about the valuable contributions these kids bring to Northfield and to recognize the students," Steele told Patch. "The thrust is to try to expand the awareness of how the colleges, in this case St. Olaf, by way of these students contributions, are an important, stealth, contributor to the quality of life in Northfield. It goes on, almost invisibly."
The interviews were video recorded. All fifteen videos are attached to this post.
The questions asked were:
- What difference have you made this semester (volunteering, mentoring, tutoring, civic engagement, work study program) to those you serve in the Northfield community?
- Have you received any personal benefit from this activity?
EcoTrans has partnered with board members of the Northfield Healthy Community Intitiative to judge the videos. EcoTrans will secure contributions and discounts of goods and services from community businesses to award to participants. All participants will receive a certificate of recognition from the community organization and a prize based on their video answers and rank.