Missoula and Roy students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and
trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Glasgow and Billings
HELENA, Mont.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nathanael Jourdonnais, 18, of Missoula and Berkley Stroh, 14, of Roy
today were named Montana’s top two youth volunteers of 2016 by The
Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring
young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Nathanael was
nominated by Big Sky High School in Missoula, and Berkley was nominated
by Fergus County 4-H in Lewistown. The Prudential Spirit of Community
Awards, now in its 21st year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in
partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals
Nathanael, a senior at Big Sky High School, organized a nine-month
project to build a bike shelter in downtown Missoula so that bicycle
commuters and recreational cyclists would have a convenient place to
lock and protect their bikes. “I wanted to create a structure that would
help promote alternative modes of travel in my community for years to
come,” explained Nathanael. He figured more people in Missoula would use
their bikes for commuting and for fun if there was a safe place to park
them, and that, in turn, would benefit the environment.
He broached the idea with the director of Ecology Project International,
who liked the idea and offered property next to the nonprofit’s historic
building. Next, Nathanael went to city officials to research building
codes and obtain permits. He worked with an architect to develop a
design for the shelter that would be compatible with the historic
building, and solicited donations from 10 businesses and individuals in
the community. Nathanael then recruited 35 volunteers to help build the
shelter with lumber, hardware and other materials – much of it recycled
– that he collected throughout the process. After nine months of work,
the structure was finished and ready for bicyclists to enjoy. “I
continue to maintain my shelter and will in the future to make sure that
it stays in excellent condition for years to come,” said Nathanael.
Berkley, an eighth-grader at Roy Public Schools, collects used shoes in
her community and ships them to Uganda, where many people don’t own a
pair of shoes and contract infections from walking barefoot in dirt.
Berkley decided to act after reading a book about Uganda by a missionary
in that African country. “She talked about jiggers (mite larva) getting
into the feet of those who have no shoes,” said Berkley. “The jiggers
burrow into the feet and can cause infections if they are not removed.”
Berkley used social media to publicize her collection drive and began
asking everyone she knew to donate shoes they no longer needed. After
she had collected 50 pairs, she cleaned and disinfected them. She then
sent them to Kampala, Uganda’s capital, where they were picked up by a
family contact and taken to a local pastor, who distributed them to
people in villages he travels to. Berkley said she will continue to
collect and ship her shoes so that she can help as many people as
possible. “Even the little things we have here in the U.S., like shoes,
can be very valuable things in less fortunate countries,” she said.
“Things we no longer use can make a big difference in someone else’s
As State Honorees, Nathanael and Berkley each will receive $1,000, an
engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May 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 2016.
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 2016:
Logan Gunderson, 17, of Glasgow, Mont., a senior at Glasgow High
School, organized a color run on behalf of his student council and
helped to raise more than $3,000 to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project,
which helps veterans with the physical and emotional effects of war.
Logan helped to secure sponsorships, recruit participants, designed
T-shirts and helped promote the event, which will now be an annual
fundraiser for the student council.
Ashley Voegele, 18, of Billings, Mont., a senior at Billings West
High School, has raised more than $32,000 over the past nine years to
support the local Toys for Tots Program by selling hot chocolate during
the holiday season when residents come by her neighborhood to see the
light displays. Since Ashley began her fundraising program, her efforts
have contributed one third of all the toys donated through Toys for Tots
in Yellowstone County each year.
“Prudential commends each of these young volunteers for using their
creativity and compassion to bring positive change to their
communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope
their stories inspire others to consider how they can make a difference,
“We are pleased to honor these students not only for their exemplary
acts of service, but for the powerful example they’ve set for their
peers,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP.
“Congratulations to each of the 2016 honorees.”
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 HandsOn Network affiliates, 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
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 May 2, 10 of the State Honorees –
five middle level and five high school students – will be named
America’s top youth volunteers of 2016. 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 115,000 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 and Brazil. 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 on behalf of President Barack Obama.
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 and 35 countries around the world. 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 full-color pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards
program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW
Harold Banks, (973) 802-8974 or (973) 216-4833