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New York’s Top Youth Volunteers of 2017 Selected By National Program

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards honors Center Moriches and North Babylon students with $1,000, medallions and trip to nation’s capital

Finalists also named in Big Flats, Cornwall-On-Hudson, Hewlett, Rock Hill, Mohegan Lake, Northport, New York and Tonawanda

ALBANY, N.Y. – Ariana Demattei, 16, of Center Moriches and Victoria Bonavita, 13, of North Babylon today were named New York’s top two youth volunteers of 2017 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Ariana and Victoria 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 2017.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 22nd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

These are New York’s top youth volunteers of 2017:

Middle Level State Honoree: Victoria Bonavita

Nominated by Robert Moses Middle School in West Babylon

Victoria, an eighth-grader at Robert Moses Middle School, has shared her love of animals with hundreds of thousands of people through oral presentations, homemade videos and articles in online publications. When Victoria was little, her grandfather introduced her to pigeons and chickens. “Since then, I’ve always been interested in animals and in helping to teach others about them,” she said.

She began by bringing her chickens and pigeons to school one day and making a presentation about them to the entire fifth grade. Since then, she has educated people about birds and other animals through talks at schools, libraries, nature and senior centers, and other venues in New York and other states. She also has created 22 educational videos for her own YouTube channel called “Victoria’s Amazing World,” many of which feature interviews with celebrities. In addition, Victoria writes articles for two online papers. “It requires a lot of work, but I’ve been able to reach and educate nearly a million people,” conveying important information about animal protection, adoption, and rehabilitation, she said. Victoria’s efforts were recently recognized when she was invited to speak at her state capitol on Animal Advocacy Day.

*Victoria’s articles and events are featured monthly in the L.I. Pet Lover Newspaper and Website*

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