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Youth Volunteer of the Year announced

Megan Blanchette has been recognized as this year's "Inspire by Example" Bemidji Youth Volunteer of the Year for her exemplary efforts toward making an impact in the Bemidji community, her humanitarianism and advocacy in building awareness for wo...

Megan Blanchette has been recognized as this year's "Inspire by Example" Bemidji Youth Volunteer of the Year for her exemplary efforts toward making an impact in the Bemidji community, her humanitarianism and advocacy in building awareness for worthwhile causes, and her teen outreach efforts.

The "Inspire by Example" Bemidji Volunteer Award Program, now in its 19th year, is sponsored by United Way of Bemidji Area and the Bemidji Volunteer Directors. In March, a selection committee, which included Ann Daley, Gary Johnson, Sue Doeden, and Mary Allen, reviewed nominations and chose Blanchette as the youth volunteer who best met and exceeded award criteria.

Blanchette was nominated by Tricia Andrews with Girls Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines. The Girl Scout program is a girl-centric model which approaches and organizes girls' leadership and achievements into three development pillars, Girls Discover, Girls Connect and Girls Take Action. Through support, education and recognition, the Girl Scout organization strives to create a community of adult volunteers who possess confidence in their ability to relate to girls, partner with families, and facilitate girl-driven activities and experiences.

Blanchette is a senior at Bemidji High School and has been volunteering for almost four years. During her freshmen year of high school, she started co-organizing concert benefits for House of Hospitality with Aimee Fredrickson. The benefit has led to larger benefit projects and concerts being planned each year. The most recent concert benefit raised $1,200 for the charity Global Impact and raised awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. She is actively involved in Teen Outreach, a high school interest group sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines. As a volunteer with the Teen Outreach program, she presents to other girls in the community about issues facing young girls. She also took part in the Students Today Leaders Forever Pay It Forward Tour 2007, where she traveled along with 30 other high school and college students to five different cities, in five days, doing community service projects.

For Blanchette's nomination Andrews wrote, "Megan has proven herself to be a thoughtful, resourceful and caring young woman. She truly makes a difference in our community. She's committed to helping others in need and is very dedicated to volunteer and community service work. She has shown great leadership skills as president of the Environmental Club and through all of her experiences with event planning as well as her position as a group leader on the STLF Pay It Forward Tour."

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