A Casper teen has been named the 2021 Wyoming Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming.

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Jinnie Ponder, a sophomore at Roosevelt High School, as announced as the state winner in a virtual ceremony from Cheyenne on April 6, 2021.

Per a press release from the Boys & Girls Club, Ponder will receive a full tuition scholarship and fees scholarship (supplement to the Hathaway Scholarship) from the University of Wyoming. The release notes that she will also receive a $2,500 award from Boys & Girls Clubs of America Youth of the Year sponsors.

The release says that Ponder has been a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs if Central Wyoming for eight years. The Club became a vital part of her life following the death of her mother. The release tells the story of a ten-year-old girl who withdrew from everything and everyone, too scared to get close to anyone, in fear that she would lose them too. Ponder said that The Club gave her a place where she was safe and welcomed during that dark time in her life. Now, she is considered a leader and a mentor at The Club.

“The Club is where I started to grow from the wallflower I once was and began to socialize with the staff and my peers,” Ponder stated. “I never realized I was part of something so big, until I noticed the little differences I was making in others’ lives.”

Ponder will represent Wyoming in the Boys & Girls Clubs Southwest Region and will compete in a regional competition this summer.

“Since 1947, Youth of the Year has been Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program, celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Club members,” the release says. “Each year, one exceptional young person from a Boys & Girls Club rises to the role of National Youth of the Year, becoming an exemplary ambassador who not only speaks as the voice of Club youth everywhere, but also stands up to represent all of our nation’s young people.”


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