Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Market organization earns award for summer youth program. Windmill Animal Rescue recognized by Dakota-Scott Workforce Investment Board

Windmill Animal Rescue, New Market, received the Willis E. Branning Excellence in Youth Employment Services Award at the Dakota-Scott Workforce Investment Board's (WIB) annual legislative and awards event Dec. 11.
The award is presented to an organization, employer, individual or a program that has demonstrated a commitment to and effectiveness in preparing young people ages 14–21 to enter the workforce. St. Francis Regional Medical Center sponsors the award for a Scott County recipient, and Dakota Electric sponsors the award for a Dakota County recipient. It is named for Will Branning, a long-time Dakota County commissioner and advocate for youth and youth employment opportunities.
Windmill Animal Rescue is led by President, Antonia "Toni" Maat.  She opened the doors to Windmill Feed and Pet Supply in 1990. The animal rescue started after some youth in town brought Toni a stray mother cat and her kittens.
Through the years, Maat estimates that between civic projects, court ordered community service, local kids just helping out, and the county youth program, they've employed more than 300 youths for either volunteer or paid positions — some even coming from as far as Edina for class service projects.  Just this fall, she had 15 youth from the New Prague School District complete their civics class service projects and had youth employed through the Scott County Youth program.
Scott County Youth Employment Counselor, Beth Olson, notes, "When I met Toni, she was tied in with the community and the DNR to receive stray and injured animals. At the time, Toni had a perpetual garage sale in her parking lot to help offset the costs of the care for these animals. She served as a worksite for the Scott County Summer Program. She supervised youth who helped with the garage sale, the care of the animals and assisted at the store. Youth learned customer service, store operation, animal care and skills necessary to pursue and maintain employment.

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