ST. ALBANS- It was an instant friendship for fifth grader Haylee and her mentor, Kate Laddison, who serves as Community Relations Specialist at Northwestern Medical Center.

After spending the second half of the school year, as a mentoring pair through Franklin County Caring Communities’ Watershed Mentoring program, the two decided to continue their friendship throughout the summer.  Now they have big plans for the two months ahead.

On the top of the list is conquering the Vermont State Parks Venture Vermont Program, which includes racking up 250 points by doing various outdoor activities. If they are able to complete the challenge, they both will gain free admission to any Vermont State Park for a year.

Haylee has had a mentor through the Watershed Program since she was in the third grade, but it’s clear there’s something different about the bond made between her and Laddison.

“I could talk about it for three hours,” Haylee said when asked what it is she likes about her mentor.

“I think Haylee and I are a lot alike, we both like to be outside and be active, and we’re a good match. I finally have my partner in crime,” Laddison said with a laugh.

This seemingly perfect match is all thanks to the work done by Watershed. The program gets it’s origins from an Indian Education outreach known as UVM Summer Happenings. In the early 1990’s, Abenaki kids went to spend the weekend at the University of Vermont. After their trip, many kids wanted to continue the relationships they made with the adults that volunteered for the program.

“It continued on, and the thought was to make it countywide,” Beth Crane executive director of Franklin County Caring Communities  (FCCC) said.

To read more about the Watershed Mentoring program pick up a copy of Monday’s Messenger.