Since 2009, Indiana Electric Cooperatives has recognized young Hoosiers through the Youth Power and Hope Awards.
The awards program — coordinated by the staff of Indiana Connection magazine — honors a select group of middle school students in grades 5 through 8 who are making an impact on their communities.
The winners for 2022 were acknowledged before a gathering of 500 Indiana electric cooperative leaders and guests at IEC’s annual Recognition Banquet, Dec. 5, in Indianapolis.
In mid-2022, Indiana’s electric cooperatives began seeking online nominations for the awards. Nominees were to give examples of their community service activities; explain why they choose to help their communities and describe how they see their community service evolving in the future. “This year’s nominees impressed the judges with their dedication to making a difference in others’ lives,” Indiana Connection Editor Emily Schilling said. “Thirteen years into the YPH program and we’re still blown away with all the ways our kids are rolling up their sleeves and putting in the work to help others.”
While every student nominee who selflessly serves his or her community deserves a sincere “thank you” and pat on the back, these five students stood out among this year’s participants. Each winner received a $500 check to assist in furthering their community service activities.
7th grader at North Harrison Middle School
Asher is active in 4-H, where he serves as a member, volunteer and student leader. At St. Michael Church, he is an altar server and participates in several community service projects including a fundraising picnic and a blood drive for the American Red Cross. And at his school, he helps with events such as food drives and a walk-a-thon.
The community project Asher is most proud of is one he does with his family. With the profit earned from selling eggs from the family’s chickens, the Abners create “Birthday Bundles” which are gift bags filled with cake mix, frosting, candles and other items to help those less fortunate celebrate special occasions that often are ignored. So far, the Abners have donated 150 Birthday Bundles to the Harrison County Community Services Food Pantry.
In his award entry, Asher described how he believes his community service will evolve and help him mature as he continues to assist the underrepresented.
Asher and his family are members of Harrison REMC. He is the son of Andrew and Linda Abner.
7th grader at Franklin Community Middle School
At school last year, Holland participated in a Young Entrepreneur class. After learning how to use a 3D printer in that class, she made over 100 articulated animal figures along with still figures such as castles and vases. She then sold the items, with the proceeds going to help a local animal shelter.
In addition, she is an active volunteer for Ascension St. Vincent Hospital where she has contributed her time to several events that raise funds for the hospital and its Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.
As she mentioned in her award entry, her volunteer work has allowed her to “make a positive impact in areas that involve younger people.”
Holland is the daughter of Christopher and Maureen Beck. The Becks are members of JCREMC.
6th grader at North Decatur Elementary School
Josie is a member of her school’s FOR-Club which spotlights and encourages good deeds by students. One of Josie’s club projects was creating a “Compliment Board” to spread kindness at school. She raised $500 for the United Fund by leading a snack sale for students. And, Josie and her class also helped clean up her school following a storm. Due to her community spirit, Josie received her school’s Super Sixth Grader award.
Josie has also led a canned food drive and planted flowers at her church. She plants flowers at a local nursing home through her involvement in 4-H.
In her award entry, Josie said helping others has impacted her by showing her the best in herself, the kindness of her community and the outcome of hard work.
She is the daughter of Mark and Susan Hartman who are members of Decatur County REMC.
7th grader at Batesville Middle School
Henry is a role model and leader through his membership in the Mayor’s Youth Council. The council conducts a camp for fifth and sixth graders each year to promote leadership and making good choices. In addition to supporting the camp, Henry volunteers at the free movie and pool days that the club and local drug-free coalition sponsor.
Henry also assists his church with many events and by serving mass. He is also an active 4-H supporter.
In his award entry, Henry said being involved in his community helps make it a better place to live.
He is the son of Mark and Megan Spreckelson. The Spreckelsons are members of Decatur County REMC.
8th grader at Greensburg Junior High School
Elizabeth serves her local community by sending positive letters to nursing homes as part of her Girl Scout troop. She delivers flowers and baking treats through her 4-H club; volunteers at her church; and, like fellow winner Henry Spreckelson, is a member of the Mayor’s Youth Council.
Not only does Elizabeth serve others locally, she has taken her commitment to community overseas through her Girl Scout Silver Award project. She and two of her friends made and sold beaded jewelry which raised over $3,000. That money was used to purchase needed school supplies for children in Kenya.
This summer, Elizabeth was able to visit the African country and work in the same school that benefited from her donation.
When summarizing her community service philosophy, Elizabeth wrote: “When you help others, it helps you to realize how much of an impact you can make.”
Elizabeth is the daughter of Carrie and Johnathan Walden, and she and her family are members of Decatur County REMC.