The past few years have been busy for 12-year-old Fiona Cowell. The Olympia girl is a member of three local 4-H clubs, an active volunteer and a proud pet owner.
She’s also the winner of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, a national award honoring youth for service to their communities. With the award, Fiona received a silver medallion, a trip to Washington, D.C., and $1,000.
The Black Lake Elementary student said she entered the competition last year by submitting an essay detailing her community service. But she never thought she would be one of the 102 honorees.
“I came home from basketball practice, and my mom said we needed to have a family meeting,” Fiona said. “I thought someone was in trouble. I didn’t know I had won anything.”
Fiona said she plans to purchase a giant teddy bear with her winnings, then deposit the rest of the money into her savings account. She’ll bring her mother, Alena, with her to the nation’s capital.
“I’m very proud of Fiona,” Alena Cowell said. “And I’m thrilled that she’s getting the opportunity to meet other kids who love volunteering just as much as she does.”
As a 4-H member, Fiona shows her kitten, Calvin, and her dog, Daisy. She and Daisy compete in showmanship and obedience competitions. Last year, they made it all the way to the state championships.
Fiona and Daisy also do volunteer work together. They recently visited the residents at Olympic West Retirement Inn in Tumwater. Fiona said Daisy was very popular with the residents.
“There was one lady who wanted Daisy to sit on her lap, but she’s a big dog,” Fiona said. “But the nurse let Daisy put her front paws on the lady’s knees.”
Fiona said Daisy was happy with the arrangement, too. She loves treats and human affection — both of which were plentiful at Olympic West.
Fiona has also volunteered collecting food for the local food bank, helping the Salvation Army with a toy drive, making dog toys for a local shelter and cleaning enclosures at a wildlife refuge. She said she’s already thinking of ideas for her next project: a book and clothing drive.
In coming years, Fiona wants to continue working with animals and being a member of 4-H. She hasn’t decided what she wants to do as an adult, but she’s considering opening an animal shelter. She said she definitely wants to be a 4-H leader like her mother.
“I think as soon as I’m 18 I’ll fill out the papers to become a leader,” Fiona said.