Most high school students will tell you that kids their age probably don’t have the best track record when it comes to community service; in fact, getting them to come out of their room is a huge struggle in itself. So, you’ve got to hand it to the group of Sonoma County high schoolers who were recently honored for their commitment to community service at the 29th annual Community Youth Service Awards.    

In a ceremony sponsored by The North Bay’s leading daily newspaper, The Press Democrat, ten high school seniors were awarded $1,000 a piece for going above and beyond and actively making the world a better place.    

From ecology to teaching English, these students broke the mold by fiercely applying themselves and turning their attentions towards social causes. 

“These kids do amazing and very diverse things in our community,” says Sonoma Media CEO, Steve Falk, “Sonoma County is well known for its community service and volunteerism and this recognition encourages and puts a spot light on those accomplishments,”

Here’s how one the recipients of the award managed to juggle high school and save the environment all at once.    

“For me, I could trace my interest in trees back to fifth grade,” says Parker Bacon of Sonoma Valley High School, when recounting the first time he became interested in ecology. Bacon, along with other fifth graders, was recruited to join Sonoma Valley’s Bouverie Preserve, a 535-acre preserve donated to Audubon Canyon Ranch by David Bouverie in 1979.    

“It really opened my eyes to environmental science and gave me the first-hand experience in nature that I needed to become interested in community work.” Bacon became hooked on the outdoors after his time at the preserve, an interest that became more than a hobby as he entered high school.    “Junior year, I got invested In Sonoma Ecology Center and started planting trees,” continues Bacon, who admitted he had fewer struggles than most when it came to juggling academics with his passion for environmentalism.  

 “To be quite honest – I’m not a party guy,” said Bacon with a laugh. “I use my weekends for homework — so that was the only sacrifices I had to make. Basically, my thought process would be: Should I study for this test or plant trees? I’d rather plant trees. It’s a juggling act, but in the end, you have to delegate your time to what you feel most passionate about.” 

Bacon says he was pleasantly surprised to find out he was one of the winners out of the 131 students nominated for the 29th annual Community Youth Service Awards. As for how he’s going to spend the $1,000 check he was handed?    

“I haven’t given it much thought,” says Bacon. “I’ll probably put it in the bank or use it to buy books for college. If there’s a way I can invest it back into the community, I would definitely try to do that.”    

It’s safe to say that Bacon — along with the 10 other winners from that evening — don’t need the incentive of many to continue carrying on in their mission to change the world for the better. This is what they’re passionate about – saving the world. 



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