HELENA, Mont., Feb. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Katrina Roberts, 18, of Great Falls and Madelyn Johnson, 11, of Big Timber today were named Montana’s top two youth volunteers of 2018 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Katrina and Madelyn each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in late April 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 2018.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards logo

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 23rd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

These are Montana’s top youth volunteers of 2018:

High School State Honoree: Katrina Roberts
Nominated by C.M. Russell High School in Great Falls

Katrina, a senior at C.M. Russell High School, has been helping young athletes with disabilities in the Special Olympics program since she was 11 years old, and in recent years has assumed leadership positions in her state’s Special Olympics organization. “I may have started Special Olympics because of my brother’s intellectual disability, but I continued because of the joy it gave me to know how many lives I was changing,” said Katrina. “I saw there were so many people out there who don’t have a voice. I want to give them a voice.”

As a unified partner for Special Olympics, Katrina mentors athletes in golf during the summer and downhill skiing in the winter. Especially significant for Katrina has been her relationship with a deaf athlete, who suggested she learn sign language so that they could communicate better. Katrina is now fluent in American Sign Language and the two are able to have “beautiful conversations,” she said. In addition to mentoring, Katrina serves on a Special Olympics youth committee that involves management meetings, travel throughout the state for various events, and recruiting other students to volunteer for the organization. For the past four years, Katrina also has fostered kittens for an animal rescue organization and helps out at its facility every week.    

Middle Level State Honoree: Madelyn Johnson
Nominated by Big Timber Grade School in Big Timber

Madelyn, a sixth-grader at Big Timber Grade School, has helped save the lives of many stray dogs and cats by fostering young animals in her home, volunteering and raising money for an animal shelter, and assisting with spay and neuter clinics. “Since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to save and care for animals,” said Madelyn. In late 2016, she took some stray kittens from her grandmother’s house to the Stafford Animal Shelter, and from that day, she has been a dedicated volunteer at the facility, traveling 30 miles each way most weeks to help out.

Since completing a training course at the shelter, Madelyn has spent many hours fostering kittens and a puppy in her home, and performing chores at the shelter, such as walking dogs and soothing cats. She has also assisted a veterinarian at three spay and neuter clinics. In addition, Madelyn raises money to buy animal food and pay for vet services at the shelter; she recently sewed a dog bed that was raffled off. Madelyn said she feels gratified that her work with animals is making a difference in her community. “I would tell people, don’t just walk by stray animals and leave them there,” she said. “Bring them to a nearby shelter. Animals need love, too.”   

Distinguished Finalists

The program judges also recognized two other Montana students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are Montana’s Distinguished Finalists for 2018:

Isabelle Melton, 17, of Helena, Mont., a junior at Capital High School, started a collection program that has distributed more than 200 pairs of shoes and other gear to young soccer players in her community to ensure that all kids, including those whose families can’t afford cleats, are properly outfitted to succeed on the field. Isabelle, a long-time volunteer soccer coach, cleans and organizes the donated gear and then puts it in a bin at the Helena Youth Soccer Association fields, where kids can sort through and take whatever they need.

Cody Tofflemire, 18, of Helena, Mont., a senior at Capital High School, played a lead role in creating a series of community science camps last summer that drew 120 elementary and middle school students, powered with the help of 30 high school volunteers. Proceeds from the camp, which featured fun classes including computer programming and forensic murder mystery, raised money for Cody’s high school science club.

“Prudential is proud to recognize these remarkable young people for using their energy, creativity and compassion to bring meaningful change to their communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope their stories inspire others to consider how they can do the same.”

“These middle level and high school students have not only improved the lives of the people and communities they’ve served – they also set an important example for their peers,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “These honorees prove that you’re never too young to make a difference.”

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 affiliates of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network, 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 April 30, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2018. 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 120,000 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, China, Brazil and Poland. 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.

For information on all of this year’s Prudential Spirit of Community State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit http://spirit.prudential.com or www.nassp.org/spirit.

About NASSP

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States. 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 Student Council. 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.

For Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallion graphics, please visit https://spirit.prudential.com/resources/media

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SOURCE Prudential Financial, Inc.