County Executive Ryan Unveils New Call to Service Youth Program Ahead of his First State of the County

Posted January 20, 2020

 Ulster County Youth Corps aims to provide youth opportunities in volunteerism in local government and beyond 

County Executive Ryan establishes first-ever Call to Service scholarship to assist local youth attending college 

KINGSTON, N.Y. – County Executive Pat Ryan announced today a new County-wide youth service program at UlsterCorps 11th Annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration of Service. His Call to Service initiative will partner the County with UlsterCorps to recruit volunteers with organizations throughout Ulster County including programs aimed at enhancing senior’s lives through socialization, increasing the number of much-needed volunteers in Emergency Service fields, and giving our youth opportunities to serve their community.  

“As County Executive, I have always prioritized being a servant leader and encouraging service opportunities and paths for our residents,” said Pat Ryan, Ulster County Executive. “Our communities run on the thousands of hours that volunteers put in from our fire departments, our EMS, and other community enhancing projects. This program will ensure that we will start to engage a new generation of servant leaders to benefit Ulster County.”

“UlsterCorps is so excited to partner in the County Executive’s new youth service program,” said Beth McLendon Albright, UlsterCorps Director and Co-Founder. “We see this as an incredible opportunity to provide meaningful, engaging service projects for youth, expand outreach, and foster collaboration and resiliency in our community across all generations.”

The program will launch with three central programs including:

Generation to Generation: Ulster County’s Living History

As part of County Executive Pat Ryan’s Call to Service initiative, the Office for the Aging is creating a program that will partner area youths ages 14-18 with area seniors to work on building intergenerational relationships. They will engage with the senior community in “Generation to Generation Socializing” at the Ulster County Senior Hub through organized events, games, and other programming geared towards fostering positive communications and relationships between our youth and senior communities.  

“We look forward to expanding our intergenerational programs with our UlsterCorps partners, and have some great and creative opportunities for the Generation to Generation Programs that would both benefit our seniors and give some valuable life opportunities to our youth,” said Susan Koppenhaver, Director of the Ulster County Office for the Aging. 

Continuing to partner with UlsterCorps, this initiative will create a program to document the living history of Ulster County’s senior community. Ulster County’s youth volunteers will work with UlsterCorps and Office for the Aging to conduct video interviews of seniors to document their stories and create a digital repository for all County residents to enjoy.  

Ulster County Explorer Program

Ulster County Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are almost entirely volunteer-based organizations. However, these organizations have been facing a severe decline in the number of new volunteers putting these critical organizations at risk of not carrying out their essential life-saving activities. The Ulster County Explorer program would look to reverse the downward trend of declining volunteers by creating a program targeting youth ages 14-20 and giving them opportunities for careers in emergency service fields.     

“Through Exploring Fire and EMS, we introduce real-world career experiences so jobs are familiar and within reach as our youth are making decisions about their educational career paths.  Currently, recruitment for Emergency Services is at an all time low,” said Everett Erichsen, Ulster County Fire Coordinator. “ I commend the County Executive on his efforts.  Providing this one-on-one mentorship for our youth will assist our local fire departments and EMS agencies in strengthening their communities.  Many in the Emergency Services community understand the importance of this program, and I thank them for their support in assisting us with moving it forward. 

The Explorer program provides young men and women ages 14-20 opportunities to explore fire service as a career while providing experiences that help develop interpersonal, leadership, and organizational skills. Explorers not only get an immersive first-hand look at the fire service, but they are also given the opportunity to enjoy organized social activities, competitive events, and community interaction while working in a professional atmosphere.  

Some of the most popular Fire and EMS careers include: Firefighter, EMT, Paramedic, Emergency Services Coordinator, Shelter Manager, Lifeguard, Ski Patrol, Search and Rescue, and Fire Inspector or Investigator.

The objectives of the Explorer training are to promote learning, teamwork, leadership, and organization with a hands-on approach that allows the member to experience fire department operations under the close supervision of professionals. At the age of 16, participants would be able to join the local volunteer fire department within their community, which opens up more training opportunities, as well as partake in a tuition reimbursement through the Fireman's Association of the State of New York for college credits from a New York State chartered two-or-four year school.  

Ulster County Youth Corps

The Ulster County Youth Corps initiative is a partnership between Ulster County and UlsterCorps seeking to increase volunteerism amongst the County’s youth. This focused extension of UlsterCorps will place willing Ulster County youth with nonprofit and government organizations throughout the County to serve their community. This program would work with the individual volunteers and match them with different Ulster County organizations based on the student’s interests and the organization’s needs. Engaging youth to be invested in their communities will create the bedrock for engaged citizens who will contribute and serve their community over a lifetime. 

Working with the Community Foundation of Ulster County, Ulster County will work to establish the Ulster County Executive Call to Service scholarship fund to assist local youth, whose participation is recognized as exceptional in the Ulster County Youth Corps, with attending college.  

County Executive Pat Ryan will be delivering his State of the County address on Thursday, January 30, at Kingston High School, marking the first time a County Executive has delivered this address at a high school for an audience of students and community members. County Executive Ryan graduated from Kingston High School in 2000.