South Dakota's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 19th Annual National Awards Program
Bristol and Redfield students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Philip and Sioux Falls
PIERRE, S.D.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nathan Duerre, 17, of Bristol and Dalton Howe, 14, of Redfield today were named South Dakota's top two youth volunteers of 2014 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Nathan was nominated by Webster Area High School in Webster, and Dalton was nominated by Redfield Jr. High School in Redfield. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 19th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
“We applaud each of these young people for their exemplary volunteer service”
Nathan, a senior at Webster High School, spearheaded a drive to remodel the poultry barn at his county’s fairgrounds. Every year, Nathan’s family helps prepare the fairgrounds for the annual county fair, and every year Nathan would hear comments about how the barn where poultry are shown was in need of a major renovation. “Almost every year someone would get their arms or hands cut from the old cages,” he said. “The animals’ legs would get caught in the cages, the latches were broken, much of the wire was rusty and the walls had large holes in them.” To make matters worse, the roof leaked. “I wanted to remodel the poultry barn so it was a safe place for people, as well as animals,” he said.
When the opportunity came up to apply for a grant to fund youth projects in his community, Nathan enlisted the help of an adult family friend to fill out the paperwork. In November, 2012, he received notice that he had won the grant and began soliciting donations from the community so that he could start the work. He then recruited volunteers to help him strip the existing cages and wire from the walls. The group constructed 150 new cages and secured them to the wall. The team then repaired the roof and the holes in the walls. Because of the remodeling, the barn was able to accommodate 50 additional birds during last year’s fair, and not one injury to human or bird was reported. Even though Nathan no longer exhibits poultry, he said he is glad he tackled the project and now is hoping to improve the barn’s lighting and add an additional layer of gravel on the floor.
Dalton, an eighth-grader at Redfield Junior High School, led a project to build two youth baseball dugouts at a local ball field to make the game safer for players. The idea came to Dalton during a baseball game when he and other players had nowhere to sit but on an exposed bench. “It was extremely hot and dangerous from foul balls that would come our way,” said Dalton. He decided he wanted to do something to improve the situation.
Dalton put together a proposal and met with his city parks and recreation department’s director and board, who liked the idea and agreed to help with expenses. Dalton drew up blueprints to take to a local lumberyard, which donated the materials, then spent the next month painting the lumber. After recruiting volunteers to help with the construction, he got a local John Deere dealership to contribute a tractor, driver and other equipment to the project. Finally, Dalton and a group of about 20 went to work fitting posts into the ground, putting up rafters, screwing on the tin and pouring a cement floor for the dugouts. Dalton knew he’d done a good job when he saw that the city was redoing dugouts on another field to match the ones he’d built.
As State Honorees, Nathan and Dalton each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2014.
The program judges also recognized two other South Dakota students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are South Dakota's Distinguished Finalists for 2014:
Gavin Brucklacher, 18, of Philip, S.D., a senior at Philip High School, helped to raise more than $13,000 to support his town’s movie theater and its transition to digital projection to help keep the theater open. Gavin, an active member of his school’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter, worked on several fundraisers, including selling raffle tickets to win a full-sized playhouse that he helped to build.
Shelby Specht, 13, of Sioux Falls, S.D., a seventh-grader at Harrisburg Middle School, raised $750 to support the Children’s Miracle Network by selling homemade candy bouquets through her “Kandy for Kids” program. Shelby chose to create a project to support the network because her brother required life-saving equipment provided by the organization following a surgery.
“We applaud each of these young people for their exemplary volunteer service,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “They use their time and talents to make a meaningful difference in their communities, and we hope their example inspires others to do the same.”
“By going above and beyond in their volunteer service, these students have brought positive change to communities across the country,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “Congratulations to each and every one of them on this well-deserved honor.”
About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. These Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.
While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – will tour the capital’s landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other parts of the world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. On May 5, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2014. These National Honorees will receive additional $5,000 awards, gold medallions, crystal trophies and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.
Since the program began in 1995, more than 100,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, India and China. In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also distributes President’s Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local Honorees on behalf of President Barack Obama.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and more than 36 countries around the world. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit www.nassp.org.
About Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential’s diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit www.news.prudential.com.
Editors: For full-color pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW