10 Sonoma County students honored at Youth Service Awards
Ten high school seniors from five Sonoma County schools were recognized Monday for leadership and civic engagement in the 28th annual Community Youth Service Awards.
Four winners in the event, which is sponsored by The Press Democrat, attend Windsor High School. Two are from Healdsburg High School, and there is one each from Santa Rosa High, El Molino High, Petaluma High and Cardinal Newman.
The awards were presented in an evening ceremony at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa. Winners, who receive $1,000, were selected by 29 judges from 106 nominees at 14 high schools. The awards recognize students who go above and beyond the volunteer commitments high schools sometimes require.
This year’s winners used a grant as seed money for a school-spirit store with affordable gear; acted as an interpreter for hospital patients with limited English-speaking ability; and launched educational programs to teach elementary school students about agriculture.
Each of the 10 categories was evaluated by judges who are considered experts in their respective fields, which ranged from agriculture to health sciences to journalism.
“Sonoma County residents are well-known for their philanthropy and volunteerism,” said Steve Falk, CEO of Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat.
“This year’s honorees are continuing in this fine Sonoma County tradition of giving back to their community. This year’s Youth Service winners contributed in varied ways - from tutoring low-income students to helping elderly dementia patients through music, to the first teen on a medical pediatric team helping children in Nepal.
“All 110 finalists and 10 winners have one thing in common: the desire to make the world around them a better place for all of us.”
Emily Nunez, ?Healdsburg High School
Emily Nunez has been involved in agriculture since she was 8. Her involvement with 4-H sparked her passion for the field, and she has served in numerous leadership positions during her time with the organization. Now, she is actively involved in Healdsburg High’s FFA as vice president.
“What many do not realize is that agriculture affects all parts of one’s life no matter how (much) one chooses to participate in it,” she said.
Nunez has participated in more than 976 hours of community service, part of which was spent creating an educational program for elementary school students called “Seeds for Students,” which teaches kids about the life cycle of a seed, and how to grow seeds into plants. She plans to double major in agricultural education and animal science.
“Kids will make healthier choices by being informed about agriculture and how to grow plants and produce food themselves,” she said.
Her work toward turning a profit from her livestock operation is something other students should take note of, her ag teacher Wesley Hunt said.
“She raises market animals in addition to her breeding cattle, so that she can hopefully earn enough to cover costs each year, something I think many youth need to be encouraged to do,” he said.
Clairisa Rumpler, ?Healdsburg High School
Clairisa Rumpler is finding ways to turn her love for filmmaking into a way to effect positive change.
She first came to realize that was something she could accomplish when she began working with an organization that fought against girl bullying.
“I realized I could apply my film knowledge to create videos to help spread the word. Soon after my first short documentary of them was shown at a local film festival, people began to (inquire) more about their organization,” she said.
Her experience there opened her eyes to other volunteer opportunities in the Sonoma County film community, and throughout high school, she’s volunteered with Social Cause Films, Alexander Valley Film Festival Alexander Valley Film Society.
Through her work with the film festival, she was introduced to another cause she could bring light to through film: Music and Memory, a nonprofit that provides music therapy for people with dementia. She implemented the programming at the Healdsburg Senior Living Center, and is at work creating a film about it.
“Claire has always had a passion for video production; over the years I have watched this passion turn into a real talent,” said her digital video teacher, John Chevalier. “During her time in my program, she has put forth a tremendous effort to not only learn the technical skills of the trade, but has begun to develop quite an eye for the artistic aspects of video production.”
Edden Yashar, ?Petaluma High School
Edden Yashar’s experience as a counselor at a summer camp in Georgia inspired him to create his own camp for middle-schoolers at home.