Chevy Chase, MD (March 22, 2017) — National 4‑H Council today announced that Amelia Day, 18, of Fort Valley, Ga., was selected as the national winner of the 2017 Youth in Action Award. Day, who also won the Youth in Action Citizenship Pillar Award, was honored at National 4‑H Council’s Legacy Awards in Washington, D.C. As the national Youth in Action winner, Day will receive $10,000 in scholarships for higher education.
The Youth in Action Award recognizes Day for the true leadership she has demonstrated as founder of the Operation: Veteran Smiles (OVS) community service initiative that she started at age 13.
“I got the idea to start Operation: Veteran Smiles when I joined my dad on his appointment at a veteran’s hospital in 2012,” said Day. “During that visit, I saw that many veterans live far away from where they receive treatment, meaning that their family and friends are often unable to visit regularly. I realized that without regular visits and support from loved ones, many veteran patients feel isolated and even lack access to basic toiletries and comforts that family members would normally supply.”
In five years, Day has grown OVS from a local program in Dublin, Ga. into a regional initiative that has served more than 4,000 veterans and engaged more than 6,500 volunteers nationwide to hand-deliver custom care packages, notes of encouragement and musical therapy to veteran patients.
“Amelia has proven herself to be uniquely capable of inspiring her peers to find purpose and passion,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president & CEO, National 4‑H Council. “4‑H’ers like Amelia show what a tremendous impact young people can make in their communities when they are given the chance to lead.”
Amelia was selected as the national Youth in Action Award winner from a pool of three other youth who were recognized as Youth in Action Awards in other pillar areas. Samuel Sugarman won for Agricultural and Animal Sciences, Ava Lonneman won for STEM, and Bryanne Sanchez won for Healthy Living.
“We’re proud to support the National 4‑H Council’s Citizenship pillar and to support the work Amelia does for our veterans,” said Grant Leech, vice president of brand management at U.S. Cellular. “She is a remarkable young adult and her efforts have been exemplary throughout the communities she’s impacted.”
The 4‑H Youth in Action Awards, sponsored in part by U.S. Cellular, began in 2010 to recognize 4‑H’ers who have overcome challenges and used the knowledge they gained in 4‑H to create a lasting impact in their community. This award highlights youth in each of 4‑H’s core areas of Agriculture, Citizenship, Healthy Living and STEM. These four pillars represent the fields in which 4‑H youth excel on a national level and align with the mission mandates of National 4‑H Council.
To learn more about Youth in Action or to see the other pillar winners from around the country, please visit Youth in Action.
4 H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow. 4 H programs empower nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills. 4 H is the youth development program of our nation’s Cooperative Extension System and USDA, and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3000 local Extension offices. Globally, 4 H collaborates with independent programs to empower one million youth in 50 countries. The research-backed 4 H experience grows young people who are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.