UNK- The University of Nebraska at Kearney Buddy System and the Boy Scouts of America Venture program are teaming up to give college students and the Kearney community alike added safety.

The UNK Buddy System was created in 1988 to give students a safe ride home if they had been drinking, if they had been with someone who was drinking, or if they were in any situation in which they felt unsafe. The program still exists today, solely by the efforts of volunteers. Students can contact the Buddy System by calling (308) 865-4865 11 p.m.-3 a.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

Now, the Boy Scouts Venture program has agreed to form a partnership with UNK in order to provide enough volunteers to keep the program running each weekend of the semester, totaling 12 weekends. The Venture program is a co-ed program designed for the 14-20 age group. The boys involved in the program can use its activities to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, but anyone can be involved in the group’s activities that range from hunting, rock repelling, skiing and even SCUBA diving, according to the Overland Trails Council District Representative Billy Howard. Howard also said that those who are 21 and over are eligible to join the Venture program as adult leaders.

Howard said that joining forces with the UNK program will work well with the safe ride home program that other Venture groups have coordinated. A similar program operates at the Hastings College campus with over 200 volunteers.

Anita Kucera, assistant director of the UNK Office of Greek and Residential Life, said the Buddy System exists to provide students with safety in a variety of situations.

“We’re here to offer good choices and alternatives for college students who may have made a bad decision,” she said. “By using the Buddy System, we can provide them with a good decision by getting a safe ride home.”

Howard echoed Kucera’s thoughts. He said that the Venture program can help to keep the Buddy System open every weekend so that its services can always be utilized.

“People will know they can rely on the Buddy System so that if they’ve made a bad decision, they don’t have to pay for it,” Howard said.

Buddy System student coordinators Sue Reineke from Omaha, Mike Fearnley from Henderson, Nev., and Fred Leibhart from Broken Bow, said they are looking forward to working with the Boy Scouts in an effort to make the Buddy System bigger and more utilized.

“This is an excellent community service,” Reineke said. “If college students are driving drunk, it effects the whole community. This program helps makes the community safer for everyone.”

Fearnley added that the safe ride home program “shows UNK and its students taking a proactive position to drinking and driving.”

The students also said that working with the Venture volunteers will be the “perfect fit for a puzzle.”

“This is a win-win proposition for both of the groups,” Leibhart said. “This partnership will really benefit everyone–the students, community and volunteers, in a positive way.”

To volunteer for the Buddy System as a sponsor or part of a driving team, contact Kucera at (308) 865-8519, or one of the student coordinators at (308) 865-4827, (308) 865-4825, or (308) 865-4040. To learn more about or to join the Venture program, contact Howard at (308) 234-6402.