These titles from the Community Service for Teens series fill a niche brought on by the national trend toward community service requirements for schools. Six out of ten American teenagers work as volunteers; of those, 8.4 percent work toward protecting the environment. Yet finding positions for volunteering in certain geographic or interest areas can be difficult. These books offer many suggestions for students to find positions that meet their individual needs. In Protecting the Environment, Ryan highlights various environmental protection agencies that include Montgomery County Student Environmental Activists, Kids F.A.C.E. (Kids For A Clean Environment), and Tree Musketeers. Starting community recycling efforts and joining global lobbying campaigns are some of the activities suggested. In Caring for Animals, Ryan suggests contacting zoos, stables, aquariums, pounds, and the Humane Society for positions to volunteer. In both books Ryan highlights stories of youth who have achieved national recognition. Each youth echoes the empowering theme of kids making a great difference by caring for animals and our environment. Ryan details skills needed to be an effective volunteer, in these two books as well as in Expanding Education and Literacy and Increasing Neighborhood Service, that include commitment to the cause and dependability to show up when scheduled. The basic people skills of listening and public speaking are also important. Strength and stamina to spend long hours doing physical work or standing on one's feet talking to groups about various animals or projects are also required. On the other hand, volunteers can acquire such skills as learning the intricacies of fundraising, bookkeeping, leadership, and handling the media in press conferences through their volunteer experience. Readers weigh the satisfying and dissatisfying aspects of volunteering in these books and in Serving with Police, Fire and EMS with a self-quiz. The biggest benefit of volunteering is gaining an understanding of specific fields such as biology, forestry, farming, or conservation. Helping others and gaining the respect of peers is another positive outcome cited. The disadvantages range from losing time for other activities to the disheartening effects of dealing with pollution. These books empower students to be active in their communities, providing resources including addresses of agencies, tips for completing résumés and applications for specific positions, and bibliographies for further readings on the subjects. A teacher's guide accompanies the series. The problem with the books is that the format tends toward repetition, remarking on the same information from different angles. For example, what the volunteer does is often what they gain from the experience; the disadvantages are often variations on the advantages. Voices of youth resonate throughout the text and there are numerous photos of students on their jobs. Note: This review was written and published to address Caring for Animals: Opportunities to Volunteer and Protecting the Environment: Opportunities to Volunteer. Glossary. Index. Photos. Charts. Further Reading. Appendix. VOYA Codes: 2Q 2P M J S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up--These titles will answer YAs' questions about what to expect when they volunteer. Each book begins with the same summary of teen volunteerism statistics, and then focuses on what it takes to work in a specific field. Ryan describes some of the projects young people have taken on, from helping to design exhibits at a natural history museum to riding along on a fire truck, and explains how both the teens and the organizations can benefit. Contact names and phone numbers are appended. The tone is uniformly upbeat, emphasizing the benefits of volunteering and only briefly touching on potential problems or frustrations. Unfortunately, the black-and-white photographs are of inconsistent quality, and more of the interviews are with adult coordinators than with the teens themselves. Still, readers who need a general summary of volunteer opportunities will find these books helpful, as will those who live where community service is required for high school graduation.--Miranda Doyle, Notre Dame High School, Belmont, CA