Perham High School’s Annika Kovar has been named one of Minnesota’s top two youth volunteers of 2019 in the 24th annualPrudential Spirit of Community Awards.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), honors middle level and high school students nationwide for outstanding volunteer service.
Prudential's Official Press Release
ST. PAUL, Minn., Feb. 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Annika Kovar, 18, of Frazee and Ryan Stoltz, 14, of Eden Prairie today were named Minnesota’s top two youth volunteers of 2019 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Annika and Ryan each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2019.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 24th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
These are Minnesota’s top youth volunteers of 2019:
High School State Honoree: Annika Kovar
Nominated by Perham High School
Annika, a senior at Perham High School, created a charity that has encouraged and helped 105 childcare facilities in 21 states to grow vegetable gardens for their kids, and is engaged in numerous other projects to promote healthy eating and physical activity among young people. In 2012, Annika suffered a concussion in a gymnastics accident and had to refrain from any physical activity for six months. “Over the course of my recovery, I experienced first-hand the effects that lack of exercise and poor eating habits can have,” she said. Afterward, “I was determined to become the healthiest version of myself, and inspire others to do the same.”
So while she was volunteering as an activities leader at a local daycare facility, Annika planted a garden to teach the children “where real food comes from” and to feed them healthy produce. Other daycares in Minnesota heard about her garden, and before long, Annika was providing free vegetable seeds, advice and, in some cases, hands-on planting assistance to 35 childcare facilities. Last year, her “Little Sprouts Garden Gang” program expanded to 21 states, and she published a children’s book to extol the virtues of gardening and to help fund her program. Annika also has produced exercise videos and taught a short fitness routine to encourage kids to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. In addition, she promotes both nutrition and exercise through speeches, food drives, benefit concerts, radio public service announcements, social media and a personal website. “Working together, we can educate and encourage today’s youth to move more, eat healthier, and help lower childhood obesity,” said Annika.