Supporting young people and education, as well as promoting community development, are two ways in which Rotary lives out its international theme, “Create Hope in the World.” One recently completed project in Brookings addressed both of those subjects.
            The Teen Career Corner was a multi-year granted project supported by the Brookings Rotary Club, Rotary District 5610 and the Brookings Public Library. The grant’s goals were to provide support for teens in the community through the public library by providing equipment and opportunities to learn about various careers in which they may have an interest.
            “If young people learn about an interesting career at an early age, they may decide to explore that career right here in their hometown,” said Kay Norton, who co-authored the grant. “That not only has the potential to help our future workforce, but it can also help teens get excited about job opportunities from professionals in that field, in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.”
            Initial grant funds were used to purchase books about career exploration and specific fields, including the creative arts, social media, real estate, the military and more. Funds also were used to supplement Library funds for comfortable furniture, display racks and tables for the Teen Career Corner. Then Rotarians and other volunteers from the community served as guest speakers to the teens during their monthly gatherings at the Library to discuss various careers and ask questions of the guest speakers; the grant also paid for pizzas and other refreshments.
            When additional grant funds remained, Jenny Kluck, the Brookings Public Library Young Adult Services Coordinator, suggested adding another career exploration: culinary arts. After all, all teens are interested in food!
            The grant then paid for equipment and supplies to enhance the kitchen next to the upstairs meetings rooms at the Library, and Kluck has been providing the young people with hands-on experience in creating a different dish every month. They are taught kitchen safety and hygiene and learn to express their creativity by adapting the recipes to their own tastes. Then they sample the dishes they have made. The program has current and ongoing benefits.
            “The Rotary Club grant helped to fund the Library's Teens in the Kitchen program, which is designed to help teach teens basic cooking and kitchen skills. The program fosters teen independence by helping teens build the skills they need to feel confident in the kitchen,” said Kluck. “This confidence will not only enable teens to feed themselves, but it might also lead them to consider a career in food service and/or hospitality.”
            The Rotary District grant was for $2,177 and was matched by the Brookings Rotary Club. Whenever possible, purchases were made locally. Kluck will be the guest speaker at the Brookings Rotary Club on July 23 and update members on the success of the Teen Career Corner.
            For more information about the Teens in the Kitchen program, contact Kluck at the Brookings Public Library. Guests are invited to the Brookings Rotary Club every Tuesday at 12 noon and may find more information at
Finnegan Cook carefully spreads sauce on the puff pastry he uses to make his homemade pocket sandwiches.
Willa Whitebird & Catie Michna are very excited to see the results of their Teens in the Kitchen project, and just have to wait for the creations to cool off before they can taste test.
Selah Andreasen & Mardi Owens are all about the creativity and the fun – even dress-up! – that is part of the Teens in the Kitchen sessions at the Brookings Public Library.
Malcolm McCormick carefully prepares his pocket sandwich using his own blend of herbs. The young people are encouraged to be creative in their culinary efforts while being supervised and encouraged by Library Young Adult Service Coordinator Jenny Kluck, below.
A Rotary grant provided funds for a multi-year youth project at the Brookings Public Library. The Teen Career Corner project provided books, supplies and speakers that gave young people information on a variety of careers, and enough funding was available to purchase supplies and equipment that is enhancing the monthly Teens in the Kitchen sessions, introducing young people to safe and creative culinary experiences learning new cooking and baking skills.