Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Olympic Snowboarding Champion Seth Wescott Pay Tribute to Norway and Prole Students as Part of Four-Day Recognition Events
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Two Iowa students, Malea Schulte, 18, of Norway and Brandon Pettit, 11, of Prole, were honored in the nation’s capital last night for their outstanding volunteer work during the presentation of The 2010 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The two young people – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – received $1,000 awards as well as personal congratulations from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Olympic snowboarding champion Seth Wescott at the 15th annual award ceremony and gala dinner reception, held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
Malea and Brandon were named the top high school and middle level youth volunteers in Iowa last February. In addition to their cash awards, they received engraved silver medallions and an all-expense-paid trip with their parents to Washington, D.C., for this week’s recognition events.
“The Prudential Spirit of Community honorees give us great hope for the future,” said Dr. Rice. “Their compassion and commitment are already making a real difference in so many lives, and I have no doubt that their leadership will continue to positively impact the world for many years to come.”
Malea, a senior at Benton Community High School in Van Horne, painted a large mural to decorate a new baseball museum in her community, designed a logo for the museum, helped landscape the area around it, and worked on beautifying the interior. After viewing “The Final Season,” a movie about Norway’s winning baseball teams, Malea began to fully appreciate her town’s rich tradition of championship baseball, and quickly signed on to assist a budding effort to build a museum. “In Norway, Iowa, baseball is like our all-encompassing religion,” she said.
After a former bank building was donated to house the museum, Malea began painting a 6-by-12-foot mural for the exterior, depicting a Norway baseball player jumping for a fly ball. When it was finished, Malea worked on the landscaping around the building, helping to remove cement slabs, install a drainage system, and lay down river rock. Her design work was used in the museum’s front window and on thank-you cards that are sold in the museum gift shop. In addition, framed photos of her mural will be sold in the gift shop to finance the purchase of baseball gloves for disadvantaged children in the area. “I think every young person deserves this opportunity, especially children growing up in the baseball capital of Iowa,” Malea said. “The baseball museum has changed the attitude of the entire town. It rekindled the pride that was always there, just hidden.”
Brandon, a sixth-grader at Indianola Middle School in Indianola, developed and implemented a plan to collect plastic bottles and aluminum cans at the 2009 Warren County Iowa Fair so that they could be recycled. Brandon earlier had started a recycling plan for his family, and reduced his home’s trash output by 75 percent. When he noticed trash cans full of plastic bottles and pop cans at public events, he decided he needed to do something about this. “A simple solution is to provide recycling bins for people to put their empty beverage bottles and cans in at public events,” he said.
Brandon presented his idea to the Warren County Iowa Fair Board and obtained its approval to collect recyclables during the 2009 fair last July. With his father’s help, Brandon purchased 10 recycling containers to place around the fairgrounds, and then recruited fellow 4-H members to monitor and empty the bins every day. Afterwards, he and his family sorted, bagged, and delivered the used cans and bottles to redemption and recycling centers. “I am happy that I am no longer personally contributing to our national waste problem but am a part of the solution,” Brandon said. “Kids should step forward and encourage adults to make the changes necessary to protect our environment and future generations.”