by: Lisa K. Anderson,

The rain didn't cease Thursday morning, but the four AntFarm volunteers unloading and chopping firewood at a Kiwanis site behind Shorty's Corner stayed in high spirits.

From 9 a.m. to mid-afternoon every Thursday, two teenage boys and two retired men have worked through the AntFarm Community Connect program and partnered with other community organizations to ensure seniors and community members in need have firewood.

"My favorite part is helping people," Matthew Hochstrasser, 15, says. "(Volunteering) has helped me with my life - to make a name for myself, to apply for work and to feel accomplished."

Hochstrasser and his best friend, Dakota Prater, 15, are among the youths involved in AntFarm who will benefit from the Youth Planet 365 fundraiser, which began April 21 and runs through May 21.

The project will help fund youth development and jobs this summer. Youth Planet 365 is an opportunity to recycle old cell phones, bottles and cans for some money; purchase AntFarm garden credits to buy fresh vegetables and flowers at the farmers' market; receive spring yard and garden care - with donations appreciated - and raise funds for AntFarm by placing water jugs in local businesses as donation spots.

Bill Bliesner and Ken Hovda, the retired men volunteering with Hochstrasser and Prater, said the teens were quick learners and fun to work with.

They especially appreciate the opportunity to teach job skills and to connect the younger generation with the elderly.

In addition to the Community Connect program, AntFarm's programming right now includes a YouthCore, a community garden and the Axis Learning Center.

AntFarm leaders, participants and volunteers encourage community members to volunteer, hold events at AntFarm and help with the community garden, behind Suburban Auto Group, in Sandy on the first Saturdays of every month.

If you go

AntFarm will hold a barbecue for youths and parents to learn about its activities and work force development program 6-8 p.m. Friday, May 11, at 39140 Proctor Blvd., Sandy. This is an opportunity for youths to fill out applications for summer work positions.

About AntFarm

• Who: AntFarm youth development center.

• What: The youth development center is holding a fundraiser called Youth Planet 365 to support youth and family services, raise community awareness and strengthen its connection to the planet.

• When: The project continues through May 21.

• Project: Youth Planet 365 includes several aspects: recycling old cellphones, bottles and cans; spring yard and garden care - with donations appreciated - and the water bottle project in which businesses place an AntFarm water jug in their offices as a donation spot for AntFarm.

• Where: AntFarm is located at 39140 Proctor Blvd. in Sandy, and these Youth Planet 365 projects take place throughout the community.

Why: All of these projects will help fund youth development and jobs this summer. To support a youth through AntFarm's summer work programs, it costs $87 a day, $350 a week and $1,398 a month.

• More info: Visit, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call 503-622-3548 or "like" AntFarm on Facebook and follow its Twitter account.

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