Three teenagers from the Kenai Peninsula received awards as part of this year’s Summer of Heroes scholarship program.
Carlee Rizzo from Nikiski, Zachary Halsstead from Kenai and Anna DeVolld from Soldotna were honored at Monday’s Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meeting.
Six youth from across Alaska were celebrated for their community service efforts. The honorees receive a $1,500 scholarship for their work in the community. Summer of Heroes is a partnership program between Alaska Communications the Boys & Girls Clubs of Alaska.
At the age of 14, DeVolld created the Promote our Pollinators program, to help educate the public about the importance of pollinators, while providing information on how to support pollinators. She created a children’s activity book, flyers, and presentation material that have been shared with her community and school. She is also a mentor to elementary students.
“Anna is showing others it’s cool to be smart, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) can be exciting for everyone and age doesn’t matter in order to make a positive impact in the community,” according to the Summer of Heroes website.
DeVolld will be collaborating with the city of Soldotna and Parks and Recreation Department to create permanent signs and labels about pollinators for the city’s public gardens, parks and visitor’s center.
Halstead, who is 15, serves in the Help a Veteran Experience Alaska program.
“He’s helped chop wood, build a handicapped ramp, serve and clean up meals, and write articles for his school newspaper to raise awareness about the program,” the program’s website said. “He can be found helping families in need at the food bank or through his local church.”
Every Tuesday, Halstead wakes up early to make breakfast for students at Kenai Alternative High School, which he’s done since he was in first grade. Halstead also helps cares for cares for his grandmother.
“When faced with various opportunities, Zachary is known for always making the choice that would benefit others,” the program’s website said.
Halstead will be attending Kenai Central High School this coming year where he plans to continue his volunteer service.
Rizzo — who established the Nikiski Children’s Fund four years ago to provide everything from shoes to money for electricity bills for classmates in need — has raised more than $16,000 to support students across the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.
Rizzo has secured enough funding to establish an internship program, ensuring the fund operates until at least 2027.
Rizzo also coded and created a video game that teaches elementary students how they can alleviate problems in the environment. Rizzo has also served as a page and intern in the Alaska State Legislature.
“We are honored to be a part of our local community and proudly invest in our state’s future,” interim President and CEO of Alaska Communications William H. Bishop said. “We believe the scholarships will empower these young heroes to continue making a positive difference in their communities, and allow Boys & Girls Clubs — Alaska to continue providing safe, positive environments for youth.”
Additionally, as part of the program, Alaska Communications donated $15,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs Alaska to further support youth development in the state, an August press release said.
“Youth are capable of wonderful things and it’s inspiring to see the work of these young heroes,” Alana Humphrey, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs Alaska, said. “We are delighted to have the ongoing support of Alaska Communications to reinforce the outstanding efforts of our clubs and these six youth. They truly are having a positive impact on the lives of those around them.”
Ethan Ahkvaluk from Nome, Sasha Ferguson from Healy and Claire Schimmack from Eagle River also received awards from the Summer of Heroes program.