‘Extraordinary leader’ rewarded for community volunteer efforts
Jennifer Johner is finding out that a little hard work and a big heart to help others pay off after all.
The 18-year-old senior at Soroco High School received the President’s Student Service Challenge Scholarship for her volunteer hours in the community.
The scholarship was offered through the south Routt Parent Teacher Organization, which matches the scholarship money with $500 to make it worth $1,000 for the student.
“There’s numerous ways to support the elementary and middle schools,” PTO President Kris Shiner said.
For high school students, the PTO individualizes its support by offering the scholarship, she said.
Johner was the only person who met the requirements for the award. To qualify, a student had to spend 100 hours of community volunteer work in one year and had plans to go to college.
For Johner, that meant just being herself because she already was an active volunteer in the community.
“It was basically a lot on my own,” she said. Johner didn’t even know about the scholarship until this month.
She accumulated her 100 hours of volunteer work doing a variety of activities. Johner is a peer counselor for the high school, has volunteered at Bud Werner Memorial Library and has sat on different community boards as a representative of Soroco High School.
Her most satisfying volunteer work was as a peer counselor in the Advocates rape and domestic violence counseling program. For three years, Johner took short classes with fellow classmates through Advocates, a nonprofit organization that supports victims of domestic violence.
“We spent a lot of time learning what victims of rape and domestic violence go through,” Johner said.
The group members then taught the information in classes in the South Routt School District.
“We presented it to the students and told them it was a risk and it could happen,” she said.
“We’ve been extremely fortunate to have Jennifer,” school counselor Jerry Gerba said. “Everywhere I see her, she’s an extraordinary leader.”
He explained that Johner is the type of student that other children look up to as a role model. That made her extremely successful as a peer counselor in the school.
On top of her volunteer work, Johner is an A student, carrying a 3.98 grade point average.
After she graduates, Johner is headed to Colorado State University for a two-year veterinarian technician program.
She’s been saving money and is applying for as many grants and scholarship as possible in hopes of paying her way through college. The extra $1,000 from the PTO will relieve some of the stress of paying for courses and books.
“It helps out a lot,” she said.
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