December 03, 2012

Celebrating 33 Years Of Youth Achievement

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Thirty-three years ago, Congress created the Congressional Award to recognize achievement, initiative and service in America's youth.  Communities nationwide have benefited from the more than 3.5 million hours of public service provided by participants in the program.  This year, fifty-two Idaho youth were honored for their contributions to our communities.

The Idahoans are from twenty Idaho communities, including Athol, Boise, Caldwell, Coeur d'Alene, Eagle, East Port, Hailey, Hayden Lake, Heyburn, Idaho Falls, Jerome, Kellogg, Ketchum, Kimberly, Meridian, Nampa, Potlatch, Sun Valley, Twin Falls and Weippe.  Idaho's medalists are credited with providing more than 17,000 hours of public service.  Idaho ranks seventh among states for the number of Congressional Award earners. 

Through the program, youth 14 to 23 years of age earn Bronze, Silver and Gold Congressional Award Medals for achieving personally challenging goals.  The Congressional Awards consists of four areas:  Voluntary Public Service; Personal Development; Physical Fitness; and Expedition/Exploration. 

This year, fifteen Idahoans earned Gold Medals.  Ester Frederick of Meridian is among the Congressional Award Gold Medalists.  In achieving this honor, Ester dedicated more than 400 hours to Voluntary Public Service, including volunteering weekly at local libraries, assisting with the libraries' Origami and Music and Movement programs.  She also assisted faculty and students at the Amity Elementary School and helped organize materials and develop children's educational materials with the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management.  Ester worked to reach Physical Fitness goals by walking more than 220 miles and biking more than 319 miles.  She also planned and carried out a family camping trip.  Through striving to meet her goals, she further developed her work ethic, learned more about perseverance and overcoming obstacles, and gained experience in self-discipline and endurance.  Gold Medal recipients receive their medals at a ceremony in Washington, DC. 

Additionally, each year, Idaho youth are presented Bronze and Silver Medals in a statewide ceremony hosted in the Idaho Capitol.  I have been honored to join my Idaho congressional delegation colleagues, Senator Jim Risch and Representatives Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador, in presenting awards at these ceremonies.  For example, Megan Fox of Meridian earned a Congressional Award Silver Medal.  She devoted more than 200 hours to volunteer service, which included crocheting blankets for newborn babies at St. Luke's Hospital, assisting the music teacher at Victory Charter School, and spending time with residents at a local assisted living home.  She also developed her pole vaulting skills, competed in track meets, participated on the cross-country team and planned and carried out a camping trip. 

In earning a Congressional Award Bronze Medal, Janice Witherspoon of Jerome contributed more than 100 hours of service.  She knitted and sold hats to raise funds for a local cause, and she walked and played with animals at a local animal shelter.  To improve her public speaking and other abilities, she joined her school's debate team and competed in state tournaments, improved her time for walking/running a mile and planned a family trip.  A full list of Idaho's fifty-two 2012 Congressional Award recipients can be accessed through my website:   https://www.crapo.senate.gov/services/congress_awards.cfm

While established by Congress, the Congressional Award Program is coordinated and administered by the Congressional Award's national office.  Those who would like additional information or wish to participate can get details directly through the Congressional Award Program's website:  http://www.congressionalaward.org

Young people throughout our communities are providing outstanding public service and working hard to reach their goals.  They are challenging themselves, learning from their achievements and inspiring their peers to contribute to community and national efforts.  I commend Idaho's youth for the time they are spending bettering themselves and our communities.

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