Driver team goes apes with Trucker Buddies

| August 02, 2001

At the beginning of the year, the Utteridges set a goal to teach their pen pals about the importance of respecting the world around them.

“One of my favorite quotes is ‘We do not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it,’” Linda says. “We are all interconnected, so we have a responsibility to protect this planet. We’re trying to teach these kids to keep safety in mind on the road, to conserve fuel and to recycle.”

During the program, the classes studied mountain gorillas, lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and gibbons. They wrote letters to the Utteridges and to their pen-pal classes across the world, and received responses from each area. At the Trucker Buddy Day in October, the Utteridges met their pen pals and heard presentations about truck safety and the endangered species study.

The Trucker Buddies classes also participated in a U.S. DOT No-Zone program. The children learned about blind spots on a truck, the squeeze play and safe traveling distances. At the end of the program, they scored 100 percent on an interactive website quiz.

“The program has helped these fourth-grade children in three different areas,” says Carol Franks, principal of Southeast Elementary. “It has let the students make a world connection; they have a personal experience that broadens their horizons. It has expanded the curriculum and given them an opportunity to study the endangered animals. And it’s also been enjoyable to write their Trucker Buddies as they travel. It’s given them a real reason to write.

So what’s next for the Utteridge’s Trucker Buddy classes? Linda says they come up with whatever they can to interest the kids, and they are studying air displacement next.

“Truckers have a saying that in the winter, they deal with black ice, cold weather and snow. In summer, they have to deal with campers,” Linda says. “We want to teach them what happens with drivers of campers who don’t know about the force of air and aren’t paying attention.”

“The program has had a huge impact on children. We see them in town all the time when we go out to dinner,” Linda says. “They think we’re famous. We tell them we aren’t; we’re just ordinary people who happen to do extraordinary things.”

Robert Utteridge, 54, has been driving for 34 years, and his wife, Linda Bittman Utteridge, 49, has been driving for 20 years. They are co-owners of GDI Trucking in Brighton.

“We feel we’re making a difference in the future of this planet by being a part of this,” Linda says. “These kids are our future. We want them to know they should be kind to animals and be kind to themselves.”

For more information on the Trucker Buddy International Program, call (800) MY-BUDDY or visit the website at www.truckerbuddy.org.

Driver team goes apes with Trucker Buddies

| August 02, 2001

At the beginning of the year, the Utteridges set a goal to teach their pen pals about the importance of respecting the world around them.

“One of my favorite quotes is ‘We do not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it,’” Linda says. “We are all interconnected, so we have a responsibility to protect this planet. We’re trying to teach these kids to keep safety in mind on the road, to conserve fuel and to recycle.”

During the program, the classes studied mountain gorillas, lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and gibbons. They wrote letters to the Utteridges and to their pen-pal classes across the world, and received responses from each area. At the Trucker Buddy Day in October, the Utteridges met their pen pals and heard presentations about truck safety and the endangered species study.

The Trucker Buddies classes also participated in a U.S. DOT No-Zone program. The children learned about blind spots on a truck, the squeeze play and safe traveling distances. At the end of the program, they scored 100 percent on an interactive website quiz.

“The program has helped these fourth-grade children in three different areas,” says Carol Franks, principal of Southeast Elementary. “It has let the students make a world connection; they have a personal experience that broadens their horizons. It has expanded the curriculum and given them an opportunity to study the endangered animals. And it’s also been enjoyable to write their Trucker Buddies as they travel. It’s given them a real reason to write.

So what’s next for the Utteridge’s Trucker Buddy classes? Linda says they come up with whatever they can to interest the kids, and they are studying air displacement next.

“Truckers have a saying that in the winter, they deal with black ice, cold weather and snow. In summer, they have to deal with campers,” Linda says. “We want to teach them what happens with drivers of campers who don’t know about the force of air and aren’t paying attention.”

“The program has had a huge impact on children. We see them in town all the time when we go out to dinner,” Linda says. “They think we’re famous. We tell them we aren’t; we’re just ordinary people who happen to do extraordinary things.”

Robert Utteridge, 54, has been driving for 34 years, and his wife, Linda Bittman Utteridge, 49, has been driving for 20 years. They are co-owners of GDI Trucking in Brighton.

“We feel we’re making a difference in the future of this planet by being a part of this,” Linda says. “These kids are our future. We want them to know they should be kind to animals and be kind to themselves.”

For more information on the Trucker Buddy International Program, call (800) MY-BUDDY or visit the website at www.truckerbuddy.org.

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