WELLINGTON — If you noticed some baby-faced law enforcers at the Lorain County Fair this week, rest assured — you're not just getting older.
The fair board has received a big assist from the Oberlin Police Department's Explorer program, a group that consists of boys and girls from 14 to 20 years old.
The Explorers have provided crowd control, parking assistance and manned gates, among other things.
Fair board members, including Director Ron Pickworth, can't say enough good things about the work the Explorers are doing.
"It's made our job easier because all we have to do is mention what we'd like done, and these kids just jump right in and take over and get it done for us," he said.
Officer Billie Neadham, who oversees the Explorers, said the group is just happy to help out. He said they've brought six to nine Explorers to the fair each day.
Neadham explained a bit about the Explorers.
"The Explorers program is a group of kids that are age 14 through about 20," he said. "I teach them what police officers do, why we do it. They do ride-alongs with me, they compete in a competition against other Explorers once a year, and we go in the community and do a lot of community service. That's our main thing."
Pickworth is grateful for the help.
"We're very happy with what they've done for us," he said. "We're just so thankful that officer Neadham expressed interest in working with the fair board earlier this year. We really weren't aware that there's a group quite like this out here. ... It's been a wonderful experience."
Neadham is happy for the experience the work gives the Explorers.
"If they do decide to pursue the career, they have some knowledge of what to do with large groups of people and directing traffic — a lot of officers get hurt directing traffic," he said. "Here they're getting a pretty good way of doing it."
Even those who don't end up going in to law enforcement can take valuable lessons away from the experience, Neadham said.
"I teach them respect yourself, respect others, always be willing to help people and work hard, and nothing's going to come to you, you have to go out and get it," he said.
Explorer Post 478, which has been around for 26 years, according to the department website, is currently open to students of the Oberlin, Amherst and Firelands school districts. Anyone interested in information about becoming an Oberlin police Explorer can contact Neadham at (440) 774-1061.
Neadham also appealed to anyone who could use the Explorers' services.
"If you need help, let us know. We'll come help you out," he said.