Tag Archives: YES Mentoring

5 Reasons You Should Compete in a Venison Cook-Off

Here at YES Program HQ, we are firm believers in giving out prizes. Lots of prizes. Which is why we have FIVE incredible prizes for the winners of the YES to Venison Cook-Off. Check it out:

1. An Engraved Grill Set. The winner of the Steak/Fillet category will go home with an engraved grill set that will let everyone know who the venison steak champion is!

2. A Gift Certificate to The Cellar Restaurant. Steaks and fillets not your favorite way to eat venison? No worries! The winner of the Stews/Chilis category will get a gift certificate to The Cellar Restaurant in Owego. After all that hard work making the best venison stew in the county, it will be a well-deserved night out.

3. Couples Membership at the Tioga County Sportsmen’s Association. Maybe you’re more of a venison sausage/jerky person… Perfect! We have the category for you! Win in this category, and you get a one year couple’s membership to the Tioga County Sportsmen’s Association!

4. A Tanned Deer Skin. Is your best venison dish sure to be a crowd pleaser? The People’s Choice Award is a Native-Tanned Deer Skin, donated by one of our YES Mentors.

And now… for the Grand Prize…

5. A Gift Certificate for Mountain Man Taxidermy. If our panel of judges decide that your venison dish tops them all, you get a gift certificate to Mountain Man Taxidermy!

With so many great prizes, don’t you think it’s time to fill out the Registration Form?


2017 People’s Choice Prize: A Native Tanned Deer Skin

YES to Venison will have prizes for each of three categories: Stews/Chilis, Steaks/Fillets, and Sausage/Jerky. There will also be a Grand Prize and a People’s Choice Prize. Jim Pratt, one of our mentors, donated a native tanned deer skin as the People’s Choice Prize. Jim provided a summary of the tanning process, which can be read below.

Raw deer skin is fleshed:

The fat and connective tissue is scraped off. The hair side of the skin is then covered with wood ashes and water and worked into the hair. This combination produces potassium hydroxide which is lye. The skin is rolled up, placed in a plastic bag, and stored in a warm area for a few days. The skin must be checked every few days to verify that the hair has slipped (fallen off). If left with the solution too long, the skin will begin to get holes in it. The skin is rinsed to remove the wood ash mixture. The hair side of the skin is then “grained” – scraped to remove the hair and outer layer of skin. The skin is then rinsed well to remove the lye and wrung out to remove as much water as possible. This is done twice. An adequately wrung skin can be held in the palm of one hand. Deer brains are then mixed thoroughly with warm water.

Stretch the skin out:

Immediately put it in the brain mixture and work the skin, stretching it until it will not soak up any more mixture. Wring out the skin and stretch on the frame. The skin must be scraped with a blunt piece of wood as it dries to keep it soft. This process may take 5-6 hours, depending on the drying time of the skin. The tanned skin is then smoked to provide some water resistance and resistance to insect damage.

This skin has not been smoked.

To register to compete in the YES to Venison Cook-Off and win this great prize, see Rules and Registration.

Artists in Our Midst

Every quarter, we do group outings with our superheroes (youth) and their sidekicks (mentors). Last night, we went to Wet Paint in Johnson City and had a blast painting horse silhouettes! We ate subs and root beer while we painted, and thoroughly enjoyed our evening. It was fun to see people get in touch with their creative side, and our superheroes and sidekicks helped each other along the way.

The Importance of a Bike

My name is Denny. I’m 56, married for 34 years and have 2 grown daughters.  My wife and I moved to this area of the country 4 years ago from N.E. Ohio in order for me to accept a new job.

Many years ago I read “The Purpose Driven Life” by pastor and author Rick Warren.  I have always felt blessed to have the childhood, marriage, and daughters that God gave me, and I was looking for the right opportunity to give back.  The Catholic Charities Mentoring Program connected with my need.

My mentee is a 10 year old boy that has not had an adult male in his life with any consistency for several years.

This experience is no different than building relationships with adults: it starts with trust.  However, a youth has a limited frame of reference, and only knows what they have seen and heard.  It’s amazing how influenced kids are by their surroundings, and that can be positive or negative.  It has been very rewarding to see positive behaviors appear if even slowly, as it is confirmation that we all have the capacity to do the right thing. We just need to have some positive role models to encourage the appropriate behaviors.

After the first few months, I approached my mentee’s guardian about acquiring a bike for him.  They do not have private or public transportation.  He lives near the center of a small town and getting to the public pool, parks, and friends by bike would not have been overly risky.  I asked him what type of a bike he would like and then set out to find some used bike choices on Craig’s List.  We made a day of it and discussed how this was an opportunity for him to show everyone that he could be responsible with something of value. When we found the one that he desired, the look of joy on his face will always be remembered. Over time, the bike has become an important tool in our mentoring relationship.  We often go for bike rides during our mentoring time.  We also have, over time, had to repair the bike together, and I have used it as a tool to discuss other things regarding respect, responsibility, and gratitude.  I feel the bike has created a positive memory for my mentee to look back on.

I recently stopped into the Boy’s and Girl’s club to fill out the background check form to permit me to participate in the in-house activities. When I introduced myself to the head counselor he said, “Wow, whatever you are doing with him, it is really working.  We have noticed that he controls himself so much better than before.  If something would upset him previously, he would swear and leave the facility.  Now, we find he will go over and sit by himself and gather control and then return to the group activity.”

As stated above, we all just need to have some positive role models to encourage the appropriate behavior.

*Story written Dec. 2014 for the Catholic Charities annual report. Though Denny and his mentee maintain their friendship, due to a change in life circumstances, we are currently looking for another quality mentor for this energetic young man.