CGPD Captain Russell Lammers was on hand during Columbus Grove Local Schools Open House on Monday. In addition to serving as a visible presence at the school during orientation, he was available to answer questions on what it is like to be a police officer for any middle school students interested in the Explorer Program - Putnam Sentinel
CGPD Captain Russell Lammers was on hand during Columbus Grove Local Schools Open House on Monday. In addition to serving as a visible presence at the school during orientation, he was available to answer questions on what it is like to be a police officer for any middle school students interested in the Explorer Program. (Putnam Sentinel/Martin Verni)

COLUMBUS GROVE — Middle school students enrolled in the Columbus Grove Local School District have the option to join a new Exploring Club focused on law enforcement. This past Monday, Exploring Executive Matt Kibler with the Black Swamp Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America participated in the open house at Columbus Grove Local Schools. He was there to answer questions on the program, and to encourage students to join.

“The Explorer Program is an opportunity for students to just explore their interests, essentially, from a career standpoint,” Mr. Kibler said. “Which allows them to get hands-on career experience, both at the post level, which is for high school students, and the club level which is for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders.”

“In particular with law enforcement, as you can imagine, that’s a tough career to recruit. So, we’re trying to offer this opportunity here at Columbus Grove for a club. To give the junior high students a more in-depth look at what a law enforcement career looks like.”

Though explorer clubs often include sixth grade students, as Mr. Kibler said, Grove’s club will only be open to seventh and eighth graders, according to a letter on the club sent to area students.

The club will meet once a month, beginning in September. As Mr. Kibler explained, “Throughout the year, they’ll learn about different aspects of a law enforcement career. Whether that’s understanding fingerprinting, what it’s used for, and how to do it; or patrol techniques; or bringing in the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit in, just to see them. It’s an opportunity for students to get interested in a career, and keep them interested in it.”

Curriculum for the club will come, in part, from Exploring.org, a website created to support explorer programs across the country. The site has an activity library encompassing a number of career fields, not just law enforcement, and provides worksheets and other resources to help explain and explore different aspects of each career field.

In addition, Columbus Grove Police Chief Sean Hiler, who has volunteered to lead the explorer program in Columbus Grove Local Schools, will be using his own experience to offer club participants a realistic overview of what working in law enforcement is really like.

“Mostly we try to not have it be cookie cutter,” Mr. Kibler says of Chief Hiler’s participation. “We really want each unit or club or post or corporation to really make it their own. To fill whatever needs they may have.”

When speaking later with Chief Hiler, he offered his take on what the Explorer Club will offer Columbus Grove students. “We obviously aren’t expecting junior high students to know 100% what they want to do after they graduate, that’s unrealistic,” Chief Hiler said. “What we are doing is putting a program together that can teach the basics in a wide range of police topics, such as the different types of jobs you can have in law enforcement, day-to-day operations, and the legal process overall. We are hoping that the kids who get involved with the club at this age can go on to join the Explorers Program that the Sheriff’s Office has for high school students. That program goes more in depth, and deals with students who are planning out their future.”

The club is not quite official as of yet. School has only just started, and at least five middle school students must complete an application, signed by a parent or guardian, in order for the club to form. There is a also a $24.75 cost to join the club, which will cover all supplies and provide general liability insurance while participating. For more details and other information, parents and students are encouraged to contact Mr. Kibler at: 567-245-1259, or by email at: matt.kibler@scouting.org.