As part of our Fundraiser Hall of Fame series, we’d like to introduce to you to our newest inductee, Wisconsin educator, Mike Scoville! This long-time Program Leader and his students are in the community year-round, raising funds for their trip and creating connections with their neighbors.
Mike is the Library Media Specialist for Gibraltar School District and traveled on his first WorldStrides trip in 2000. Gibraltar takes both 7th and 8th graders to our nation’s capital every other year and averages between 80 and 90 students per trip – nearly all of them 100% paid through fundraising.
With Gibraltar located in Fish Creek, WI, he knows that his school tours might be the first and only time his students travel elsewhere. With the support of the students and their families, he puts his group in the heart of the community, setting up booths and manning tents and activities. “We don’t do any door-to-door fundraising or order taking,” he says. “It’s my philosophy that we need to get the kids into the community so they push to bigger crowds and a different variety of people.”
Mike believes the public has rallied around his students during their fundraisers and in return, the town is thankful for their positive efforts. “If we have kids fundraising, regardless of what they may be doing, the interactions they have with different people and how they respond to that is our biggest glowing piece.”
Mike’s most successful fundraisers include:
- Participation in the local Pumpkin Patch Festival
- Community book drive
- Fish Creek Winter Games
- Bagging groceries for tips
The Pumpkin Patch Festival wasn’t always a hit! He laughs now thinking back on his first festival. Dubbed “The Great Pumpkin Lighting,” he and his class were tasked with gutting 100 pumpkins and selling them to visitors. They sold five. The next year, his students fared much better at the community event. They oversaw the children’s Spooky Games, organized a bake sale, and had a fortune teller giving wacky fortunes to children.
Another local event that his students participate in is the Fish Creek Winter Games. It features events such as ice bowling, human foosball, and toilet seat tossing. The favorite though, is the minnow racing, which pits donated minnows against one another in a track made of rain gutters. When Mike’s group gives the go, the person’s minnow that finishes first wins a prize.
Mike’s passion for his students, their community involvement, and the memories made while traveling is evident. “Our English teacher has the students create a scrapbook when they come back and there are still a lot of kids to this day who have graduated years ago that will pull that out and talk about it,” he says.” There are a lot of firsts for our kids on this trip.”
Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Mike!