Aliza Woodford, an eighth grader at Emmetsburg Catholic School, has been named Iowa's top youth volunteer, on the Middle Level, by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. She is joined in receiving this honor by Jennifer Jenks, 17, of Aurora, honoree on the High School level.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.
As state honorees, Aliza and Jennifer will each receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C. At the nation's capitol, Aliza and Jennifer 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 2017.
CLOVER KIDS VOLUNTEER -- Aliza Woodford of Emmetsburg is pictured (right) working with Clover Kids Page (center) and Levi. The Clover Kids were building a marshmallow snowman that had to be able to stand on the table. They also did Valentine crafts. Aliza has been honored for her volunteer work, earning the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
--Jane Whitmore photo
Award Winner Aliza
Aliza Woodford was nominated for the award by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach:?Palo Alto County.
Aliza helps her local 4-H?coordinator run an after-school program for about 50 elementary school students twice a month throughout the school year.
Aliza's school requires at least 15 hours of service work in order to earn a medal. However, Aliza knew she could do more. Recalling that her mother had helped out when Aliza took part in the "Clover Kids"?program years earlier, Aliza thought it would be fun for her to do the same.
During two-hour sessions every other week, Aliza hands out name tags to the students in the program, prepares snacks, plays games, supervises science experiments and craft project, and watches the youngsters at recess "to make sure they don't get into trouble," she says.
After the Clover Kids go home, Aliza helps clean up by sweeping the floor and wiping off tables.
The most challenging part of the job, said Aliza, is disciplining children who do not behave. "I?don't like being stern to kids. It makes me sad," she said.
Jennifer Jenks, a senior at Linn-Mar High School, developed a program in which students from several high schools interview senior citizens in a residential care facility about their lives and then write up their stories for portfolios that are presented to the families of the patients and shared with other residents, visitors and staff member.
The program judges also recognized four other Iowa students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. The students from Burlington, Cedar Falls, Red Oak and Long Grove will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
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. The local honorees were 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 state honorees 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 8, ten of the State Honorees (five middle level and five high school students) will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2017. 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.