Students from Collins-Maxwell and Ballard High Schools were honored for their service to the community Tuesday night during a ceremony held at Iowa State University’s Memorial Union. In addition to their studies and any other extracurricular activities they pursue, these students were recognized for the time they choose to spend on noble causes around their respective communities.
The Story County Youth Volunteer Awards is a local celebration of National Volunteer Week, presented by the Volunteer Center of Story County. The center makes residents with a desire to volunteer aware of opportunities in the county to do so – everything from helping out at the Hickory Grove Triathlon to becoming a butterfly recorder at Reiman Gardens.
"[Members of the committee] were really impressed by the students who took initiative to find a problem and then take action to address that need," said Hannah Dankdar, Americorps Vista volunteer engagement coordinator at Volunteer Center of Story County. Winners were selected by a panel of five ISU and one high school student, all involved in philanthropy.
Three students from Ballard High School were among those honored on Tuesday for their volunteer efforts throughout their communities: sophomore Brandi Myers, junior Garret Davies, and senior Travis Chinery.
All three students give of their time in addition to keeping up with their studies and participating in extracurricular activities or part-time employment. Myers visits the Ballard Creek Nursing Home to help with crafts or bingo when she isn’t at cheerleading or track events, while Chinery works part-time at a Casey’s in Madrid in addition to activities in FFA. Davies is an Eagle Scout and serves as president of both the National Honor Society and the Slater Community Club. He also is the president of Explorer Post at the Huxley Fire Department, a program for high school students to learn more about the demands of a firefighter.
All three recipients agreed that making their communities a better place to live was worth the time they put into their volunteer endeavors.
"All three of these kids volunteer both in and out of school," said Jeriann McLaughlin, service mentoring program coordinator at Ballard High School, who nominated all three students. "If there’s something that needs to be done, I know I can count on them. They’re willing whenever I need help. They do all kinds of wonderful things."
Another local group who serve their communities at a young age is the Indian Creek Circles 4-H Club in Maxwell. The group, guided by Club Leader Beth Caple, has performed a wide variety of projects to help enhance the image of Maxwell including improving the landscaping around the Maxwell Community Center, helping construct a playground area in the city park, adopting a portion of County Road S-27 north of town and holding a 9/11 Service Day. In the coming months, the group also plans to install park benches south of town near the native prairie grasses .
"It’s exciting for them to be honored," said Caple, "People realize that youth are giving back to our community and [this award] allows them to take pride in what they’ve done."
Stephanie Struthers, a senior from Collins-Maxwell High School, was also honored for her various volunteer efforts throughout the community.
All award honorees will receive a framed certificate signed by Gov. Terry Branstad.