WASHINGTON, May 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Mississippi's top two youth volunteers of 2017, Luke Kelly, 16, of Water Valley and Davian Powell, 14, of Lexington, were honored in the nation's capital last night for their outstanding volunteer service during the 22nd annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Luke and Davian – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), named Luke and Davian Mississippi's top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
Luke, a member of Lafayette County 4-H and a junior at Oxford High School, led an effort to improve a scenic hiking trail in his town and design an educational activity to enhance walkers' enjoyment of the pathway. When the University Museum at Ole Miss asked Luke's Boy Scout troop to work on a forest trail that runs from the museum to the historic home of William Faulkner, Luke volunteered to head the project. "I wanted to do something important that I knew everyone could benefit from," he said. "Everyone needs to be outside getting exercise and public spaces are free, so I decided to improve a public space."
After meeting with the museum's staff, Luke drew up a plan for sprucing up the Bailey's Woods Trail and designed a nature scavenger hunt in which children and families could participate while walking along the quarter-mile path. Over the course of a year, Luke and his fellow scouts spent countless hours trimming branches along the trail, improving signage, digging post holes, and building a bench to sit on. For his scavenger hunt, Luke created laminated cards and installed boxes to hold them at both ends of the trail. Since the completion of the project, thousands of community members, college students and visitors have enjoyed the trail, and his Boy Scout troop has made a long-term commitment to maintain it, said Luke.
Davian, an eighth-grader at Williams-Sullivan Elementary School, has earned a reputation across his state for teaching and mentoring other young people to raise and show farm animals, and is a regular volunteer at several community events throughout the year. When he was just a young boy, Davian would help his grandfather feed his cows and watch his older cousin show his goats at 4-H events. Later, he became an active 4-H member and purchased four heifers of his own, and before long was showing his cows at state fairs and other agricultural events.
As word spread about Davian's skills in the care and handling of cows, he was asked to make presentations at schools and 4-H meetings, and began teaching kids how to feed cattle, keep them healthy, and prepare them for shows. He also started helping youth start their own animal-raising programs. In addition, Davian helps children ride horses at an annual "Horses for the Handicapped" event, and volunteers at "Ag Awareness Days," educating kids about where their food comes from. "It is amazing to watch the smiles on the children's faces when they touch a cow or pig for the first time," said Davian.
"These honorees have done exemplary work to contribute to the health and vitality of their communities, and we look forward to seeing the great things they achieve in the future," said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. "Congratulations to each of these extraordinary young volunteers."
"It's a privilege to celebrate these students not only for outstanding volunteer service, but for the example they've set for their peers," said Jayne Ellspermann, president of NASSP. "These honorees prove that one person truly can make a difference."
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2017 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the HandsOn Network. More than 31,000 middle level and high school students nationwide participated in this year's program.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service – and, in so doing, inspire others to volunteer, too. In the past 22 years, the program has honored more than 120,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
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 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 pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, visit https://spirit.prudential.com/resources/media.
For B-roll of Mississippi's honorees at the 2017 national recognition events, contact Prudential's Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or email@example.com.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/two-mississippi-youth-honored-for-volunteerism-at-national-award-ceremony-in-washington-dc-300452924.html
SOURCE Prudential Insurance