Herald JournalHerald Journal, Nov. 24, 2003

Jaycees are looking to be active in LP

By Trent Redfield

Jason Uecker, president of the Lester Prairie Jaycees chapter, is ready for the Jaycees to become an important part of the Lester Prairie community.

Even though he noted that the Jaycees started up in Lester Prairie a couple times before and faded out for lack of participation, Uecker thinks that this time it's here to stay.

Now there are 35 members who paid their dues, which is the minimum number needed to start a chapter, Uecker said.

They meet once a month at the Porthole in Lester Prairie on the first Monday or Tuesday of the month.

Uecker wants to see the membership grow, but is also interested in growing active participation.

"It's a great way to meet other people in the community," Uecker commented.

"It's a reason to get out of the house and relate with someone and to get to know members of this community," he said.

The Jaycees are a volunteer program and service organization that has chapters throughout the country.

Uecker sees some of the very successful Minnesota chapters as models to follow for making Lester Prairie's chapter a success.

Anyone between the ages of 21 and 37 is welcome to join, he said.

The current chapter formed in Lester Prairie during the spring, and hopes to be successful as other chapters are across the state.

For example, the Shakopee Jaycees are in charge of the beer sales at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

This fundraiser nets them about $60,000 a year, and is the only fundraiser that they need.

The Brainerd Jaycees host the Mille Lacs ice fishing contest each year. Jaycees members from any chapter can volunteer at the fundraisers and events of other chapters.

Uecker suggests that this is a good way to see how successful chapters operate and also it's a chance for Lester Prairie Jaycees to travel and participate in events like the Renaissance and Mille Lacs.

The Lester Prairie Jaycees had its first fundraiser Nov. 1.

It was a pig roast conducted at the Porthole downtown.

Uecker was very pleased at how well this event went, and hoped to see it become an annual event.

He and Scott Lorentz, vice president of the local chapter, were the main organizers of the event. With help from the Shakopee chapter's donation of $200 for expenses, the Lester Prairie chapter was able to make $150 at the first fundraiser and also to raise awareness for the organization.

Uecker sees possibilities for other events in Lester Prairie, all of which emphasize his enthusiasm for the social aspects of the Jaycees.

He would like to see a large pancake breakfast, to organize a softball tournament and team for Longhorn Days, and to sell burgers and brats during the days of the community garage sale.

Uecker also mentioned that many Jaycees chapters participate in Minnesota's Adopt-A-Highway program and that is also something to consider for the future.

Membership fees are $35 for the year, though once 50 members join this chapter the fee will drop to $25. Uecker says that forming the Jaycees has been a worthwhile venture so far, and he wants to see it continue and grow.

Uecker may be contacted at (320) 395-4170 for information about the local Jaycees chapter and details on coming events and meetings.

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