SAN BENITO — From helping develop informed and responsible community members to promoting habits of orderliness and precision, a local school program is being rewarded for their efforts.

On Wednesday, San Benito CISD’s NJROTC Program was awarded a grant and donation totaling $1,200.

The program was awarded a $1,000 Ian Wilson Orienteering Grant through the Orienteering USA organization.

Orienteering is land navigation with map and compass. The goal is to run a series of points shown on the map while choosing routes that will help competitors find and get back to the finish within the quickest amount of time.

“Our orienteering team has done very well for the last seven years,” NJROTC Naval Science Instructor Chief Timothy Wilson said. “Now with this grant from Orienteering USA, we’re able to make that premiere course in the Valley.”

San Benito’s NJROTC Program was one of two programs nationwide to receive the Ian Wilson Orienteering Grant.

Currently, the unit has about eight cadets participating in the orienteering program.

“Competitions are very physical. We usually run around about two miles up and down hills and through woods,” Cadet Commander and Orienteering Captain Nicholas Wilson said. “It feels very good to find that checkpoint and be able to punch it down. The thrill that you get is not like any other.”

According to Timothy, the grant will be used to improve the program’s permanent orienteering course at the high school.

“This grant is going to help take the course that we developed last year from a basic level into a premier course where it’s more professional, marked better and easier to maintain not only for the NJROTC program, but also for our facilities,” Timothy explained.

Harbor Freight made a $200 donation in support of the unit’s underwater robotics program and future leadership course.

“Donations are usually given to CTE or STEM Programs so it’s nice that they recognized not only the importance of the underwater robotics — but also in the request we put that no matter what anybody decides to do in their life, they have to have the basic foundation of leadership to be successful and Harbor Freight was generous enough to make a $200 donation to the program,” Wilson said.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nate Carman said he is excited for the opportunities the NJROTC gives to the school district’s students.

“Developing them as young leaders is a critical skill and we believe our unit is one of the best in the state, if not, the region,” Carman said. “We’re very proud of their efforts and happy and satisfied with the efforts our chief has made here to go above and beyond to actually write for and receive these grants on behalf of our students so we’re thrilled to have him be a part of San Benito High School.”

High School Principal Rudy Ramirez describes the Liberty Hounds as a premier unit.

“They do a lot of community service, but beyond that here in the campus, they’ve done a lot to transform lives individually,” Ramirez said. “We’ve seen students that have really taken the benefits of the program and they’ve done great things with it.”