star-shape-logoSuccess Through Adults Reaching Students (STARS) is a non-profit mentoring program serving youth and families in Freeborn County and the eastern portion of Faribault County.

In Freeborn county the cities served are:

  • Albert Lea
  • Alden
  • Clarks Grove
  • Emmons
  • Glenville
  • Gordonsville
  • Hartland
  • Hayward
  • Hollandale
  • Manchester
  • Myrtle
  • Twin Lakes

In Eastern Faribault County the cities served are:

  • Bricelyn
  • Easton
  • Freeborn
  • Kiester
  • Walters
  • Wells

Four school districts served are:

  • Albert Lea Area Schools
  • Alden- Conger Public School
  • Glenville-Emmons School
  • United South Central Public Schools

STARS  is dedicated to providing adult mentors to youth who are in need of guidance or support.  Through caring one-to-one relationships with adult friends and positive role models, youth will grow and thrive, taking responsibility for their choices, learning from their mistakes and looking forward to a healthy and productive future.  Mentors empower at-risk youth to make positive life choices and develop to their fullest potential.girl with flower

Research shows that mentored youth are less likely to begin using alcohol or drugs, skip school, or fight. They report feeling better about schoolwork, show gains in performance and get along better with parents and peers.


Success Through Adults Reaching Students (STARS) was created in Faribault County.  In 2001, citizens of the United South Central School District of Faribault County founded STARS to provide community-based mentoring to youth as a strategy for preventing youth risk behaviors. Tobacco settlement funds in the amount of $8,000 helped start the program.

  • March, 2001–board of directors formed.
  • June, 2001–board received incorporation certification status.
  • December, 2001–received 501c3 status from the IRS.
  • A part-time coordinator hired.
  • Two federal grants helped program grow.
  • July, 2006—STARS assumed responsibility for Community Mentor Connection (CMC), a youth mentoring program in Freeborn County. CMC had been providing mentors to youth since 1997, with help from the Family Services Collaborative, Freeborn County Department of Human Services.  It was originally a paid-mentor program and DHS no longer could fund the program.  A task force looked for ways to continue and chose STARS as the best option. Since then, STARS has provided mentors to youth in eastern Faribault County and all of Freeborn County.
  • One joint board of directors operates both programs separately under STARS 501(c)3.  They both operate under the same policies and procedures.
  • Now the official name of the program is called Success Through Adults Reaching Students, or STARS Mentoring Program.

STARS has an active, volunteer board of directors.  Each director brings a community sector to the table and is involved in the ongoing activities, fund-raising, recruiting mentors and evaluating the program.

  • Our current board members are:
  • President: Ryan Murphey, Law Enforcement, USC School Liaison Officer, Wells, MN
  • Vice President: Taylor McCullough , Albert Lea, MN
  • Treasurer: Ric Staloch, CPRS, Community Representative, Keystone Treatment Center, Wells, MN
  • Ex-Officio Member and Acting Secretary:  Mary Jo Volkman, Program Coordinator, Albert Lea, MN
  • Jennifer Murphey:  School Social Worker, USC Schools, Wells, MN
  • Kristin Engebretson, mentor and employed at Mayo Health Systems, Kiester, MN
  • Brenda Wichmann, Retired ECFE Director and Parent Educator, Alden, MN