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BBBS participants take aim at the outdoors





The aim of about a dozen youngsters learning archery Sunday afternoon on the Thomas More Prep-Marian High School campus wasn't hitting a bull's-eye.

It was spending time outdoors with a mentor.

The event was part of Big Brothers Big Sisters J.T. VonLintel Outdoor Mentoring Program.

VonLintel died Oct. 20, 2010, in Australia, at age 21, and the program recognizes his love of outdoors.

He enjoyed hunting, fishing and especially four-wheeling, and the program will help other children enjoy the outdoors, John VonLintel said of his son.

"Maybe you might find the passion he had for the outside," he said.

"J.T. lived for hunting, that was his passion in life. It wasn't sports," said Robbie VonLintel, his mother. "It was hunting -- any chance he could get. You just never know if you could spark that in another kid."

A Fort Hays State University leadership studies team, Team J.T., has selected the program for its project and organized Sunday's event that began with lunch.

"We're fortunate to get a leadership team involved to let the community know about it," said Nancy Jeter, BBBS of Ellis County executive director.

There are 26 children on the waiting list for BBBS of Ellis County, she said.

After lunch, Mike Nyhoff, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Public Lands regional supervisor, showed children how to safely use the archery equipment.

"Archery is a fairly easy outdoor activity and doesn't take a lot of equipment," Nyhoff said. "Most of all, it's just getting them outdoors to do something fun."

This is the second event for the program.

The first was a dove hunt at Wilson Wildlife Area for 16 children from Hays, Russell and Walker, said Scott Thomasson, Wilson Wildlife area manager.

It was a new experience for the children, and some picked it up quickly. Others needed a little more practice, said Laura Dougherty, a member of the FHSU leadership team.

"All of these kids would like to be a part of the outdoor mentoring program, so we are looking for a mentor for them who will spend time with them outdoors one hour a week three times a month," Jeter said.

It isn't just hunting -- anything outdoors, John Von Lintel said.

Dougherty said organizers hope the volunteers helping with the archery event will realize the impact they can have on the youngsters.

"They build a relationship through activities, spend some time and have some fun," Jeter said. "Focus on getting out there and having fun, and mentoring just comes along."