Ames, IOWA --Two Iowa 4-H members have recently been honored for outstanding volunteer service to their local communities. Both Kevin Peyton of Sac City and Natasha Swanson of Boone have been named state honorees in the 2006 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program.
The national program honors two youth -- one high school and one middle-level student -- in each state. Peyton and Swanson will each receive an engraved silver medallion, $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
In addition, three of Iowa's four distinguished finalists in the Prudential program are members of Iowa State University (ISU) Extension 4-H. They are Benjamin Brown of Iowa City, Marla Claussen of Bettendorf and Janelle Vittetoe of Washington.
"These young 4-H members have learned the value and importance of a community that works together to achieve its goals," said Chuck Morris, director of ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development. "They have been the driving force for some wonderful projects and have shown outstanding citizenship."
Peyton, 18, a nine-year 4-H’er, received the award for a project that not only brought the community together but also boosted economic development. Peyton organized the Sac County Barn Quilts project. Quilt patterns were painted on large sheets of plywood and strategically mounted on the sides of historic barns that would take visitors throughout the county.
"Barns and quilts both seem to stimulate positive feelings in many people, so to put the two of them together seemed like a win-win proposal," said Peyton. "The barn quilts have generated a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and pride in our area."
While Peyton's project was designed to bring visitors into Sac County, Swanson's project was aimed far outside her county. The 13-year-old Boone County 4-H’er formed a group of family, friends, 4-H members and local church members to make 70 fleece blankets for children in Russian orphanages -- something she knows a great deal about.
"My life in a Russian orphanage started when I was 10," said Swanson. "It was cold there and the sun barely came out during the winter."
Brown, 18, created a volunteer incentive program at his high school that rewarded students for devoting at least 10 hours to community service activities. Claussen,18, helps lead "Operation Military Kids," an Iowa State 4-H Council program designed to increase awareness of challenges that military families face. Vittetoe, 17, started a program that provides travel-sized pillows to pediatric oncology patients at Children's Hospital of Iowa.
4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.
Carol Ouverson, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-9640, firstname.lastname@example.org