On the afternoon of January 15, 2004 at his weekly press conference Governor Jim Douglas declared January “Vermont Mentoring Month.” Vermont mentors and their youth matches looked on.The Vermont Mentoring Partnership (VMP), a project of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, is spearheading Vermont’s celebration of National Mentoring Month, as designated by President George Bush in early January. The VMP connects youth and adults in mentoring programs throughout Vermont, supporting mentor programs statewide and 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 who provided support, and helped them learn and become who they are today.At Thursday’s press conference, Governor Douglas stated: “The State of Vermont is working to expand mentoring and other volunteer activities… Mentoring reflects the great strength of the human connection. This sense of belonging is the heart and soul of the people of Vermont… Mentors are friends, teachers, coaches, and role models. They open doors of opportunity, convey values, and help provide the stability and compassion that youth of today need to succeed… They provide experiences for our youth to explore new careers, and opportunities that help prepare the future workforce of Vermont, helping to build a strong economy.”Research shows that youth-adult mentor matches improve student grades, school attendance, career options, family relationships, and prevent drug and alcohol initiation. One of several dozen state partnerships created by the National Mentoring Partnership, the VMP provides training, certification, 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)).