Governor Kim Reynolds has declared January as Mentoring Month in Iowa.

This January marks the 16th annual National Mentoring Month and according to Volunteer Iowa research has shown that at-risk youth with mentors are 46% less likely than their peers to start using drugs, 55% more likely to be enrolled in college, and 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.

Mid-Prairie West Elementary is home to the Big Hawk-Little Hawk mentor program that partners 50 high school students with elementary students. Program Coordinator Sara Puttmann shares what she enjoys about the program, “I get to work with the best kids and it is just fun to see them step up to the occasion. Not every relationship is easy, sometimes they’re like, ‘I don’t think my mentee likes me.’ And so we talk about what can we do about that, how can you interact with them better, let’s seek out some other perspective, let’s ask the classroom teacher, let’s talk to other people and see what can we do to build those relationships even when it’s not easy.”

The Big Hawk mentors visit their Little Hawks twice a month during the school year, doing a variety of activities from playing board games to helping with homework.