by Spirit of Youth Staff
Spirit of Youth is excited to announce the 2020 Spirit of Youth Award Recipients! We thank you for your support of Spirit of Youth, and the work the organization does to celebrate young Alaskans.
You can read more about this year’s recipients, who were selected by our Teen Advisory Council, and reserve your spot at www.spiritofyouth.org. We hope that you can join Spirit of Youth on April 17th to celebrate the accomplishments of youth in communities across Alaska.
Derek Booth (Kotzebue) has learned how to produce professional looking traditional attire. He sews nightly with his grandma, spending time with her and passing on traditions. Most of his garments, which are coveted by many in Kotzebue, are given away for free.
Runner Up: When funding failed from the Anchorage School District, Geneva Luteria (Anchorage) looked for opportunities in the Anchorage Assembly to figure out alternatives to a Tagalog class.
Anna DeVolld (Soldotna) has developed a program called Promote Our Pollinators. This project strives to educate the public about the importance of pollinators and to provide easy to implement ways to support these essential creatures.
Runner up: Grace Hopkins (Fairbanks) raises hundreds annually for The Door Youth Shelter fundraiser “One Homeless Night” where she builds a box city and spends the night outside.
Sheryl Swarner (Fairbanks) was recently involved in saving the lives of three teenagers. Due to her quick actions and directions, the outcome of the event was not tragic.
Runner up: Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (Juneau) was created by and for teens and young adults, to help engage the power, energy and creativity of high school and college students in the fight against gun violence.
Alicyn Bahnke, Zoe Okleasik, Quannah Potts and Nanieezh Peter (Nome) were inspired to take action due to their personal experiences with climate change in their communities. In a resolution to the Alaska Federation of Natives they declared a climate emergency and created a climate action leadership task force to advance Indigenous voices and advocate for strong climate policies that will ensure the survival of future generations.
Kevin Grimes (Fairbanks) is a strong member of Facing Foster Care in Alaska. He mentors youth from all ages ranging from 13-25. While he is only 18, he has worked with political members like City Mayor Jim Matherly, Vice-Chancellor Keith Champagne, Former Governor Bill Walker, and others to spread his message.
Runner up: Shaelene Swanson (Sterling) has had a turbulent upbringing, but despite everything she’s been through, she has remained resilient.
For the past five years, Margaret Wolfe (Anchorage) has volunteered as the childcare provider for an Anchorage area women’s AA meeting on Saturday mornings. She also helps with youth group activities at her church, assisting with service projects and youth activities.
Runner up: Eli Knapp (Big Lake) has been a part of a number of youth-led activities, including R.O.C.K Mat-Su and Special Olympics, as well as helping in his classroom.
Sarah Mixsell (Anchorage) founded the non-profit organization Alaska Kids for Kids in 2011 when she was nine years old. Under Sarah’s leadership, the organization has raised over $20,000 in funds and other donations that directly benefit youth in Alaska.
Runner up: Zoe Nelles (Palmer) created the Sandwich Project at Palmer High School. She makes lunches for kids so they have food over the weekends.
In June of 2018, Garrett Graham (Anchorage) formed a team called “Garrett’s Got Guts” which participated in the Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis fundraising event. He has taken action to educate himself, his classmates, and his community members about genetic disorders with both humor and sincerity.
Runner up: In order to alleviate isolation among senior citizens, Elora Reichert (Nikiski) created a traveling petting zoo at a senior living home in her community.
Our mailing address is:
Spirit of Youth
P.O. Box 243721
Anchorage, AK 99524
All Spirit of Youth Award recipients are hardworking teens between the ages of 12 and 19. Congratulations!