During an awards ceremony at the Cheyenne Civic Center on April 18, U.S. Senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, and Congresswoman Liz Cheney recognized 47 outstanding Wyoming youth for earning bronze, silver and gold Congressional Award medals. Of those 47 student, six Carbon County youths earned medals, with one from Saratoga and five from Rawlins:
• Fiona Davis, Saratoga – Bronze, Silver and Gold Medal
• Abby Frakes, Rawlins – Gold Medal
• Katelyn France, Rawlins – Gold Medal
• Spencer Searle, Rawlins – Gold Medal
• Harris Tanner, Rawlins – Silver Medal
• Mylee Tanner, Rawlins – Gold Medal
“Today, we celebrate not only these outstanding young people but the ability to gather in person during this time of uncertainty,” said Pat Thomas, president of Wyoming Congressional Awards Council (WCAC) during the April 18 ceremony.
ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL AWARD
The Congressional Award was established in 1979 to recognize initiative, service and achievement in young people. It is non-partisan, non-competitive and voluntary. It’s open to all youth aged 13 to 24-years old regardless of ability, circumstance or socioeconomic status.
In order to receive a medal, each medalist must achieve a set of challenging goals in the areas of voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration.
Earning a bronze medal requires at least a seven month commitment; completing 100 hours of volunteer service; 50 hours of personal development; 50 hours of physical fitness and executing a one-night exploration or expedition.
To earn a silver medal, participants must complete another 100 hours of service; 100 hours of personal development; and 100 hours of physical fitness, in addition to executing a two-night exploration or expedition.
The Gold Congressional Award is the most prestigious award, and is the only award given to students by the U.S. Congress. In order to earn the Gold Congressional Award, participants must complete at least 400 hours of volunteer service; 200 hours of personal development; 200 hours of physical fitness; and execute a four-night and five-day exploration and expedition.
While volunteer work and physical fitness is more straightforwardly defined, personal development goals are open to interpretation.
“Participants should explore something new or improve their skills,” said Sarah Compton, executive director of WCAC. She explained that this might look like learning to perform a more difficult piano piece or working towards a pilot’s license. For younger participants, this could even look like earning a driver’s license.
In order to participate in the program, participants register with the Congressional Awards national office. They are then welcomed by the state office where they meet with an advisor and set goals for themselves and their community. Compton said that she hopes that more young people will be inspired to participate in the program. As long as participants meet the age criteria, it’s open to anyone and everyone regardless of circumstance. It has no grade point average requirements, and accommodates young people with special needs or disabilities who are willing to take on the challenge.
“Earning a Congressional medal takes commitment, grit, and a substantial amount of time over several years, and each of our communities have benefited,” Thomas said.