Gold Award

Natalka Petroff • Clifton Park

Natalka wanted to help Ukrainian refugees new to the capital district. At her local Ukrainian School she created basic care bags containing toiletries, and created a system for people to donate clothing and dance shoes so those new to the area could come and take what they need. She then spent time in the school classrooms talking with students about different ways they could help refugees. 

Emily Strife • Clifton Park

Due to rising mosquito populations and declining bee populations, Emily built and installed bat houses and bee hotels along local hiking trails. By educating her community, she demonstrated helping your local ecosystem does not have to be hard and everyone can make a difference. 

Emma Salzer • Delmar

When kids are unable to attend Sunday School- parents struggle to keep them entertained during church services. These bilingual busy bags are full of interactive and informative activities for kids to work on during services. These bags come in both English and Spanish. 

Kyla Levin • Delmar

Kyla wanted to share her love of meditation and encourage others to get outside and meditate. She created a trail that brings visitors to a bridge she built. Over the bridge is a clear area for meditation and a worry well at Lawson’s Lake.  Here, visitors can toss stones into the well to let go of their worries and build good mental health skills while enjoying the outdoors. 

Elizabeth Andrus • Ballston Lake

After the end of pandemic- funding school meals for all students, Elizabeth wanted to help students in her district and around the state keep access to free school lunches. She partnered with Shenendehowa Director of Food Services to attend lobby days at the NYS Capital to speak with legislators about this issue. With over 500 views of her Instagram infographics about school lunches and lunch debt she truly brought more awareness and attention to this important issue. 


Cayden Williams • Corinth

Cayden wanted to increase her community's comfort and stability when it comes to clothing security and decreasing the amount of clothing and fabric entering landfills each year. She created an annual event called Closet Swap, a chance for community members to take free clothes instead of purchasing new fast fashion and help prevent these clothes from being thrown away. At the first event, 2,000 pounds of clothes were donated and saved from landfills, 1,212 pounds were taken home by 150 community members.  

Maya Derico • East Greenbush

Maya wanted to create a way to recognize and honor the military veterans living in East Greenbush. She created a program that allows veterans and their family members to request banners to be hung around the town. By the fall of 2023 Maya was able to hang 30 banners around the town. These banners are at no cost to the veterans they are honoring. 

Kaitlin Sprouse • Howes Caves

Kaitlin built 10 insulated cat shelters and dispersed them around her community. Each cat shelter acts as a warm space for stray cats in poor weather and the winter. These shelters also act as a way for the property owners to safely catch stray animals to bring to spay and neuter clinics. This helps cut down on the stray cat population and educates the community on the value of Trap Vaccinate Return programs. 


Halligan Hussar • Delmar

Halligan researched and created recipes full of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. She then created a cooking club at South End Childrens Cafe. She taught these recipes to the children at the cafe to educate them on the importance of healthy eating and basic kitchen skills. She loved how willing and excited all the children were to participate each week and try the new snacks. 

Jordan Frank • Niskayuna

Jordans project worked to increase public awareness of the connection between a lack of books and literacy skills. Jordan hosted a book drive in her community. Over 3,000 books were collected and organized into bookshelves for the Schenectady City Mission Family Life Center. The new library is free to use for the families staying at the Schenectady City Mission. 

Gwendolyn Jamison • Averill Park

To improve the efficiency and usability of the greenhouse at Averill Park High School, Gwendolyn built 7 garden beds and planted flowers and herbs. After teaching her fellow students how to use the new garden beds, the greenhouse is now used by the horticultural classes and garden club. 

Emma M. Hanlon • Averill Park

Emma brought awareness to the issue of creating walkable communities. She created surveys about how comfortable people feel walking in her community. She also created an Instagram page and hosted an event to educate people about the importance of walking. Her work led to the Department of Transportation installing two pedestrian crossing signs in unsafe areas. 

Kathryn Campbell • Greenwich

To provide a safe haven for snowmobilers, hikers, and landowners -Kathryn installed a shed to act as a warming hut in poor weather conditions. This warming hut acts as a place for snowmobilers to stop and warm up, escape poor weather, socialize, make lunch, get first aid, and use tools for minor repairs. 

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