My name is Amanda, and I am an AmeriCorps program instructor serving with the YMCA Earth Service Corps in the Greater Seattle Area. In my service I help empower youth to make positive changes in their schools and communities through their environmental clubs. Our end of the year celebration and awards ceremony was a great time to reflect on my past year of service with YESC. It was a time where I got to recognize some exceptional youth that I served and their accomplishments.

One youth, Angel from Hazen High School, really stood out. She has grown so much as a leader throughout the year. When I first met her, she was quiet and was more introverted. As the year progressed, she took on more responsibility. One proud moment was when she collaborated with the Key club to plan a school-wide trash cleanup. She organized over 25 students who picked up over 10 bags of trash. The event was very successful and got noticed by many teachers and the vice principal. These joint cleanups continued for the rest of the year. This was a moment when she stepped outside of her comfort zone and grew as a leader. By the end of the year she was leading some meetings and really shining. She attended the awards ceremony and it was great to recognize her growth and see how much she appreciated my service for her club.

There were two exceptional leaders from International Community School recognized, both with very different leadership strengths. Alina the club president had been with the club for 6 years and a leader for 4 years. This past year serving her club I saw her ability to lead meetings and make all the members feel welcome and heard. She showed her strengths when club members presented waste sorting lessons to the sixth graders. She cheered on the younger group members and helped boost their confidence so that they could do their best. The club treasurer, Selin, is a seventh grader who shows maturity beyond her years. She is a quiet introspective person that has a leadership style very different from Alina. She isn’t the person who likes to lead from the front of the room but works behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly. Her attention to detail helped save the club’s finances this year. There was an issue with the ASB transaction log for Green Team, but due to her detailed excel file she was able to correct the issue with the office. I am excited to see how she continues to grow as an emerging leader.

My service with AmeriCorps has shown me how much of a positive impact one person can have on youth. I am confident that all these leaders will continue to do great things. All of them have helped to better their school and create a brighter future. Hearing their thanks at the end of the year made me realize that I really did make a difference in their lives. I know that I will carry these moments with me as my AmeriCorps term ends.