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WATCH NOW: Mayor's Top Teen Awards, Mother Moon scholarships announced

WATCH NOW: Mayor's Top Teen Awards, Mother Moon scholarships announced

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WATERLOO -- The 22nd annual Mayors’ Top Teen Awards and Mother Moon Service Scholarships were presented virtually by the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley on May 12.

The awards program, typically held in person, recognizes outstanding youth volunteers in the Cedar Valley. Award criteria included demonstrating excellence in volunteerism in the Cedar Valley and a setting a good example as a role model for others. Teens ages 13-18 are eligible for the award.

The 27 nominees received certificates from Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart, Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green and Evansdale Mayor Troy Beatty. In addition, the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa awarded Mother Moon Service Scholarships to nine students.

Sponsors of the event included the cities of Cedar Falls, Dunkerton, Evansdale, Gilbertville, Hudson, La Porte City, Raymond, and Waterloo; Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa; R.J. McElroy Trust; and Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley.

This year’s honorees are as follows:

Mariah Ambrose

Mariah is a Top Teen Award Winner from Waterloo East High School. Mariah dedicates her time on Sundays teaching lessons and songs with movement to kids as a youth Sunday school teacher. Mariah is a Student Ambassador through UNI’s Educational Talent Search Program. As part of this program, she has volunteered with Pack the Dome for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service, assisted elders at the Jesse Cosby Center, and helped plan a clothing drive for Goodwill, among other leadership opportunities. Mariah is one of the Mother Moon Scholarship recipients.

Jenna Atkins

Jenna is a Top Teen Award Winner from Cedar Falls High School. Jenna volunteers in the emergency room at MercyOne. Since December,she has spent over 100 hours running labs, cleaning, restocking supplies and providing support to patients. She’s also had the opportunity to shadow the doctor on duty.

Vikashprithvi (Vikash) Ayyappan

Vikashprithvi (Vikash) is a Top Teen Award Winner from Cedar Falls High School. Vikash is a volunteer at both MercyOne Medical Center in Waterloo and Cedar Falls. He was a performer and master of ceremonies for the Kidsway Big Top Tent at the Sturgis Falls Celebration. Vikash has also performed as a magician at Northeast Iowa Indian Association events and has helped kids at the Hearst Center for the Arts. Vikash is one of the Mother Moon Scholarship recipients.

Hannah Cary

Hannah is a Top Teen Award Winner from Waterloo East High School. Hannah has volunteered for Pennies for Patients at the children’s hospital, served as a summer Bible camp counselor, spent time meal packing for Feed My Starving Children and UNI’s Pack the Dome, and rings bells for The Salvation Army. She also volunteered with the Christmas Adopt-A-Family Program.

Bethany Christians

Bethany is a Top Teen Award Winner from Dunkerton High School. Bethany volunteers at the Cedar Bend Humane Society and makes toys and blankets for shelter animals. She has coordinated numerous volunteer opportunities as VP of Logistics through National Honor Society. Bethany also participated in cross country, basketball and track. She is one of the Mother Moon Scholarship recipients.

Tyson Fleshner

Tyson is a Top Teen Award Winner from La Porte City Union High School. He was invited to events at La Porte City’s FFA Museum, giving him the opportunity to interact with and teach children about chickens and agriculture. As a lead member of the Union Carolers, Tyson brings the joy of music to his local area during the holidays. He is a Mother Moon Scholarship recipient.

Cadence Griggs

Cadence is a Top Teen Award Winner from Waterloo East High School. Cadence is the Cadet Commander Sergeant Major, the highest enlisted cadet in her battalion with the U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Program. She has completed over 110 hours of volunteer service with the ceremonial Color Guard, as a peer mentor with the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program and helping veterans through the Black Hawk County VA.

Laura Hepworth

Laura is a Top Teen Award Winner from Waterloo West High School. Within the last year she has spent more than 100 hours volunteering with her church, Orange Elementary School, Cedar Bend Humane Society, Northeast Iowa Food Bank and Country View Care Center. She also volunteers with her school’s freshmen mentoring program called Link Crew, National Honor Society and Students Against Destructive Decisions. Laura is a Mother Moon Scholarship recipient.

Emma Hickman

Emma is a Top Teen Award Winner from Waterloo West High School. She volunteers with Feed My Starving Children, her church, Northeast Iowa Food Bank, the Grout Museum, House of Hope, Kaden’s Kloset, ASPIRE and the Cedar Bend Humane Society.

Reagan Lindsay

Reagan is a Top Teen Award Winner from Columbus High School. She has volunteered with the annual Mayor’s Fun Run for kids, helped run her school’s seventh-grade retreat, assisted with girls’ basketball and volleyball camps at her school and helped at the Hawkeye Nationals Wrestling Tournament. She also participates in athletics, student government, musicals and National Honor Society.

Lily Mayer

Lily is a Top Teen Award Winner from Columbus High School. Over the past year, she has spent time volunteering as part of her church’s youth ministry, at local elementary schools and the hospital. She also, with her cheerleading team, hosted a fall festival, served meals and helped local schools with summer clean-up projects. Lily is a Mother Moon Scholarship recipient.

LaTasha McGhee

LaTasha is a Top Teen Award Winner from Waterloo East High School. LaTasha volunteers with the ceremonial Color Guard, serves meals and supports veterans at her local American Legion and mentors middle schoolers in a leadership development program. She also works part time, serves as a council member to the Waterloo Youth City Council and participates in athletics.

Abigail Peet

Abigail is a Top Teen Award Winner from Hudson High School. She has spent more than 120 hours volunteering with her church, vacation Bible school, TeenServe, Northeast Iowa Food Bank, Feed My Starving Children and helping local veterans. 

Tristen Prouse

Tristen is a Top Teen Award Winner from La Porte City Union High School. She has spent nearly 200 volunteer hours with her church’s Prayer Shawl Ministry and making hats for infants through the American Red Cross. She’s also volunteered with the Northern Iowa Youth Orchestra.

Jessica Regenwether

Jessica is a Top Teen Award Winner from Hudson High School. She began volunteering with her church’s vacation Bible school more than 10 years ago and now serves as a kindergarten teacher for the program. Her involvement in National Honor Society has also given her the opportunity to lead her peers in volunteering with the American Red Cross, the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, and Dance Marathon for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

Sarah Roberts

Sarah is a Top Teen Award Winner from La Porte City Union High School. Sarah can be found volunteering with Student Council, Future Farmers of America, German Club and at her church. She also was a volunteer teacher for elementary summer school students. Sarah participates in her school's mentorship program, dance team, speech and drama, band, choir and softball.

Kylee Sallee

Kylee is a Top Teen Award Winner from Hudson High School. Kylee is a four-sport athlete, the student body vice president, member of yearbook and managing editor of the school newspaper. Through National Honor Society she has volunteered with the American Red Cross, Northeast Iowa Food Bank and Dance Marathon for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital. She’s also helped lead the charge for her school’s backpack program, ensuring families in need receive food every week. Kylee is a Mother Moon Scholarship recipient.

Linkin Sarauer

Linkin is a Top Teen Award Winner from Waterloo East High School. As a surgical hostess volunteer, she worked closely with patients' families. She was injured in a bike-racing accident and became a patient herself. Linkin still volunteers with MercyOne, although she now devotes her time to the Birth Center and pediatrics department.

Rylee Sash

Rylee is a Top Teen Award Winner from La Porte City Union High School.She's president of the Benton County Youth Council, a 4-H leadership group. She also volunteers with her school’s chapter of Future Farmers of America and the Mentors in Violence Protection Program for incoming freshmen. Rylee also participated in dance team, theater, speech, band, color guard and choir.

Claire Schaefer

Claire is a Top Teen Award Winner from Columbus High School. She coaches youth volleyball and plans events through student government such as canned food drives and blood drives, and participates in the Adopt-A-Family program.  Claire volunteers at the Catholic Worker House and ManorCare Nursing Home. She was also a 2019-2020 member of the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa’s Teen Trust, a youth philanthropy program.

Jenna Schott

Jenna is a Top Teen Award Winner from Columbus High School. As a MercyOne Medical Center volunteer, Jenna has held numerous roles from interacting directly with patients in the surgical unit to assisting the human resources office with clerical duties. Most recently, she’s been helping in the pediatric unit. Jenna participates in school athletics, the spring musical, student government, medley service club, and senior leadership team.

Julia Thiry

Julia is a Top Teen Award Winner from Don Bosco High School. Julia has volunteered to serve meals at the Catholic Worker House, Feed My Starving Children and Northeast Iowa Food Bank. She also helped with her church’s parish breakfasts, bake sales and fall Harvest Fest. Julia also volunteers in the pediatric unit at MercyOne.

Haylee Thurmond

Haylee is a Top Teen Award Winner from Columbus High School, where she participates in cheerleading, theater and choir. Haylee helped with the Catholic Daughters 100th anniversary dinner and did yard work at the Cedar Valley Hospitality House. She also assisted with Waterloo’s Halloween Trick-or-Treat event and helped lead her church’s middle school lock-in.

Aaliyah Tournier

Aaliyah is a Top Teen Award Winner from Cedar Falls High School. She and her family host annual lemonade and bake sale events to raise money for Alive and Running Suicide Awareness and Prevention and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Inspired by her adopted brother’s experience in foster care, Aaliyah started her own 501(c)3 nonprofit called Furries 4 Fosters, which donates blankets and stuffed animals to children new to the foster care system.

Megan Wheelock

Megan is a Top Teen Award Winner from Valley Lutheran High School. She has dedicated 170 hours to community service. She participates in local community theater and is a volunteer usher for the Waterloo Community Playhouse and Black Hawk Children’s Theatre. Megan is also active in her church and assists with Sunday Supper and the Youth Group Outreach Program. Megan is a Mother Moon Scholarship recipient.

Kyla Wright

Kyla is a Top Teen Award Winner from Waterloo West High School. She helped children at her school's cheerleading clinic and was as a counselor through her church’s vacation Bible Sschool. Kyla is also involved with her school’s student senate and was a 2019-2020 member of the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa’s Teen Trust, a youth philanthropy program.

Brooke Zoll

Brooke is a Top Teen Award Winner from Don Bosco High School. She is involved with the Youth Action Council of the Cedar Valley, which has allowed her to serve with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and ManorCare Nursing Home. She volunteered with vacation Bible school for elementary students and helped organize an “out-of-uniform” day, raising nearly $200 for House of Hope. Brooke is one of the Mother Moon Scholarship recipients.

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