This club’s signature project promotes safety, fosters family bonding and broadens club membership.
Story by Wendy Rose Gould • Photos by Liz Osban
Members of the Wheatland Kiwanis Club in Wyoming knew they were doing something great when they began hosting their annual Discovery Day event three years ago. And while it was destined to be a success, they just might have underestimated how much of an impact it would make on the community, as well as their own club.
The early summer event serves as a hands-on educational outing for families and children with help from local businesses and various agencies. In 2019, nearly 500 residents came out to play along with 31 businesses, law enforcement members, government officials and nonprofit organizations. These numbers are especially impressive given Wheatland’s small population of 3,800, and the high participation makes for unforgettable events.
Discovery Day activities include climbing in fire trucks and police cars, interacting with police dogs, sorting letters in mail trucks, wearing lineman gear, checking out farm machinery and learning how to climb a power pole. The goal is to have fun, educate families and children and make safety officials — and their equipment — less intimidating.
“Although children see all of these vehicles (and officials) in action within the community, it is very rare for them to interact with them or have the time and encouragement to ask questions,” explains the Wheatland club’s Past President Gail A. Thompson. “Children walk away with more knowledge about the vehicles, and our display partners take the opportunity to stress public safety issues.”
The event also fosters an environment for exceptional family bonding. Club members often see multiple generations from the same family interacting with one another to create lasting memories.
“Year after year, we hear such great feedback from the families in attendance about how excited the children are and how much they get out of participation,” Thompson says.
And there was one more unexpected but much-welcome, bonus: The club has enjoyed a notable boost in membership as a direct result of the event. Since Discovery Day’s inauguration, the previously aging club has been reinvigorated with young parents and has nearly doubled its membership.
This story originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of Kiwanis magazine.