submitted by Sharyn Alden; photos by Dean Nelson & Karl Wellensiek
The sun shined brightly July 1st, after a tornado watch lifted, on one of Rotary’s most festive traditions –the annual Rotary Scholar Mentor Picnic held lakeside at the home of Ed and Nancy Young.
There were multiple tables of picnic food choices –segmented further by categories. There were appetizers and salads, a lively grilling station with brats and burgers fresh off the grill, and a dessert table laden with cakes, cookies and luscious chocolate delights.
Beyond the good eats and boat rides, and overall festive atmosphere, what most of us came for was this exceptional opportunity to get to know each other better.
Melanie Ramey, former President of Rotary (1998-1999), a five-time mentor to Rotary scholars, is currently a mentor to Matida Bojang. Ramey said, “The annual picnic provides a great opportunity for scholars to become better acquainted with their mentors and also meet other scholars with similar academic or cultural backgrounds.”
This was the second Rotary Scholar Mentor Picnic for Eddie Larson, whose mentor is Majid Sarmadi. Larson, who will be a junior this fall majoring in actuarial science at UW-Madison, said, “Rotary as an organization offers many excellent networking opportunities. But the annual picnic brings together people of so many diverse backgrounds, it’s a terrific venue for meeting and making new friends.”
Seated at a picnic table, gazing out at Lake Monona, first-time picnic attendee, and scholar, Cassie Ferguson (mentee of this author) said she felt grateful that her aunt, a Rotarian in California, encouraged her to apply for a Rotary scholarship. “I wouldn’t be sitting here today if she hadn’t nudged me,” she said. Ferguson is heading to UW-Stevens Point in August and working at Summit Credit Union this summer.
She plans to major in early childhood education because she said teachers, from elementary grades through high school had a strong impact on her life. “I want to give back,” she said simply while enjoying the view of the Capitol in the distance.
Conversations like this, at a casual picnic with no specific agenda other than to enjoy yourself, can be stepping stones to planting seeds for life-long friendships between scholars and mentors.
Our thanks to Ed and Nancy Young for hosting this year’s 2018 Scholar Mentor Picnic; to “Picnic Planner” Dean Nelson; Scholar Mentor Committee Co-Chairs Rob Van den Berg & Cheryl Wittke & Chair Emeritus Ellie Schatz and to members of our Kitchen Committee for working their magic at the grill. The event was a great success!