The Congressional Award is Congress’ nonpartisan, noncompetitive, voluntary award program for young Americans between the ages of 13 and 24.
Braving Tuesday’s snow, Telluride native and Dartmouth College sophomore Soleil Gaylord and her family visited Republican Rep. Scott Tipton’s Durango office. Once there, Tipton awarded Gaylord two Congressional Awards. A silver medal for community public service and a bronze for personal goal setting.
“I thought it was a neat way to outline my goals and be able to achieve them,” Gaylord said. “And being awarded through the government is a really neat recognition, very special recognition.”
This was the third time Tipton was able to give out these awards in person. He said this a great program through Congress that “shows and encourages public service.” Applicants challenge themselves in four areas: voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration.
“We have students that are willing to be able to take up that challenge, to be able to meet those goals and receive these medals,” Tipton said. “I think it’s a very admirable thing you see out of the quality of people that we have.”
According to the Congressional Awards program, 51 medals and certificates have been awarded to young Americans in Colorado this year.
Gaylord first heard of the program as a high school junior. That’s when she set out her goals. She volunteered at her local school greenhouse, working with students K-12 to grow and harvest vegetables which were later brought to the school cafeteria.
But Gaylord, who ran up her first mountain when she was 5 years old, is not settling for silver. She said she’d like to achieve the Congressional Award Gold Medal for public service.