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Fishing with Levi

By Staff | May 31, 2008

Steve Reighard and Levi Jensen toughed the weather Thursday at Tri-Boji access as they fished for bluegill. They lucked out with four keepers. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

Sometimes, mentoring can be as rewarding for the mentor as it is for the person being mentored.

That’s the case for Steve Reighard and Levi Jensen. Steve, a ranger with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, is mentor to Jensen through Emmet County Kinship. Kinship matches adults mentors who serve as positive role models for youth up to age 18. Adults and youth both agree to enter into a mentoring relationship for a year at a time.

Steve and Levi found the program so rewarding that they’ve signed up for a second year. And it’s benefitted both of them.

It’s easy to see why a young man like Levi would find a role model in Steve.

As a DNR ranger, Reighard is naturally attracted to the outdoors. And he and Levi have filled out many of their once-weekly activities with things that sound like a schedule for a television sports show: target shooting, fishing, duck hunting, hiking.

“We get along so good we signed up for another year,” Steve said of their mutual Kinship commitment. Under the program, adults agree to spend at least one hour each week with the youth they are mentoring.

Other activities include going out to eat or playing video games and often Levi will come over to Steve’s for supper. Other activities have included horseback riding at Camp Foster, going to Arnolds Park amusement park, attending Okoboji Summer Theatre, and helping with the adopt-a-highway cleanup project. They also took part in the swim party recently at the Regional Wellness Center and other group projects.

Steve already has experience with children of his own. Steve Jr. finished his Army basic training in February and serves full-time at a recruiter’s assistant in Storm Lake for the Iowa National Guard. His daughter, Stephanie Hanson, teaches eighth-grade special education for Estherville Lincoln Central.

Steve admits that the fact he likes the outdoors helps in mentoring Levi, though that’s not necessary.

“Any kind of a role model whatsoever” is beneficial in the Kinship program, he said. It also helps that Levi likes fishing, as does Steve.

Regardless of an adult’s interests, though, Kinship tries to match like interests of mentors and youth.

“We’ve become pretty good friends,” Steve said of Levi. “He knows he can call anytime he wants to. I think it’s important for young boys to have male role models of some kind.”

Steve and Levi have worked together on school projects, one of which was a catapult.

Levi signed up for the Emmet County Fishing Day at Rich Jordet’s pond and Levi’s also signed up for the fall hunter safety education course.

So what does Levi think of all this?

“It’s pretty good,” said Levi, noting that his favorite activity so far has been duck hunting. He says he also looks forward to fishing with Steve.

Steve and Levi went fishing at the Tri-Boji access Thursday. So how did they do?

They caught a lot of little ones, but Steve said they had four keepers. Steve caught the first one, but Levi caught both the biggest and the smallest bluegill.

More male mentors are needed for Emmet County Kinship, with a number of young men awaiting a match. If you’re interested in making a difference in a young man’s life, call Emmet County Kinship today at 712-363-2828.