Two island teenagers were honored for their participation as volunteers in an exotic wildlife sanctuary and raising money for disadvantaged children.
Honored as Hawaii’s top youth volunteers by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals were:
» Natalie Mohr, 17, of Kailua-Kona, a senior at Kealakehe High School. She has been a key volunteer for the past six years at an exotic wildlife sanctuary, Three Ring Ranch, where she takes care of injured animals, assists with surgical procedures, and educates others about endangered species.
» Carly Button, 14, of Waialua, an eighth-grader at Hawaii Technology Academy, a public charter school in Waipahu. She co-founded a nonprofit organization in 2008 that has raised more than $35,000 to help disadvantaged children around the world. The impetus for Carly’s "Dream of a Better World" was her mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer.
As state honorees, Mohr and Button each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the honorees from other states and the District of Columbia for several days of national recognition events. Ten of them will be named America’s top youth volunteers for 2011 at that time.
Two other Hawaii students were recognized as finalists and will each receive an engraved bronze medallion. They are:
» Richel Marie Cole, 17, a senior at Sacred Hearts Academy High School, who helped launch the YWCA Youth Network, a youth-run initiative that provides projects and events for young people. Cole , who helped raise $5,000 to support the program, is responsible for planning events, connecting with community supporters, managing budgets, and raising awareness about the program.
» Kyle Nakatsuka, 17, a senior at Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama, who teaches at-risk youth to build, customize and maintain their own bicycles through an organization called Kalihi Valley Instructional Bike Exchange. Nakatsuka also helped raise $1,000 to support the organization and managed a petition effort to change zoning regulations to keep KVIBE from closing.