This month, the Vermont Mentoring Partnership (VMP)leads the state into Mentoring Month, created to recognize the importance of mentoring nationwide. VMP, an organization connecting youth and adults in mentoring programs throughout Vermont, is taking the opportunity to honor Vermont mentors’ dedication and strong sense of community service. VMP currently supports 136 mentor programs statewide, serving over 2,000 youth.The theme for National Mentoring Month is “Who mentored you? Thank them … and pass it on! Mentor a child.” The philosophy behind “Who mentored you?” is to encourage individuals to recognize the importance of mentoring by inspiring them to think about people in their own lives– family members, teachers, coaches, clergy, neighbors– who provided support, and helped them learn and become who they are today.Okemo Mountain Resort and VMP team up on Thursday, January 16 to pay tribute to Vermont mentors and their youth matches. Okemo is donating ski passes and discounting equipment rentals to reward Vermont’s mentors for their hard work and dedication. “Okemo Mountain Resort boasts excellent skiing conditions as well as a long history of community involvement,” said Damon Tabor, VMP Executive Director. “Ski Day presents an unparalleled opportunity for mentors and their protégés to hit the slopes for a full day of free skiing and riding.”Governor Jim Douglas will read a statement proclaiming January to be Vermont Mentoring Month at his regularly scheduled press conference, while mentors and their youth matches look on. President Bush issued his proclamation on January 2, calling upon “the people of the United States to recognize the importance of being role models for our youth, to look for mentoring opportunities in their communities, and to celebrate this month…”Research shows that youth-adult mentor matches improve student grades, school attendance, career options, family relationships, and prevent drug and alcohol initiation. One of 23 state partnerships created by the National Mentoring Partnership, the VMP provides training, certification, funding, workshops, conferences, and technical assistance to the Vermont mentoring community.A media campaign accompanies VMP’s community outreach and educational activities during this month. For more information about mentoring in Vermont, log on to the Vermont Mentoring Partnership website (www.vtmentoring.org(link is external)) or call 1-800-VT-MENTOR.