May 7, 2022 — Each year, the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce honors a local student with the Marteen Wick Future First Citizen Scholarship. Siuslaw School District puts together a name of nominees, and then a committee and panel selects the winner.
For the 2021 Future First Citizen of Florence, the nominees are Rylee Colton, John Corser, Ava Glowacki, Chad Hughes, Camp Lacouture and Winnie Zhen.
The award recognizes a student based on their academic leadership and success as well as civic involvement and contributions to the community. It includes the Marteen Wick Future First Citizen Scholarship for $2,500.
The chamber normally names the winning student at the Siuslaw Awards, which also honors businesses, volunteers and the First Citizen of Florence Award. This year, however, the chamber and Siuslaw School District will name the winning student in time for the Rhododendron Festival and the Grand Floral Parade on Sunday, May 22.
The judging panel consists of current First Citizen Steve Olienyk and former First Citizens Dr. Brian Holmes, Dee Osborne, Rachel Pearson and Ron Caputo.
The committee will read the students’ applications and consider their classwork, as well as their school experiences, activities and community service, as they come to a decision.
Rylee plans to attend Lane Community College before she pursues a degree in nursing.
“I have had my heart set on nursing since I was a freshman in high school,” she said. “I plan to get my bachelor's degree in nursing and more specifically, be trained in labor and delivery.”
She is a member of the National Honors Society and a varsity cross country and track runner, and captain on both teams.
“In my four seasons of running cross country, I have never looked back on the hard practices, tough races, district or state championships and regretted it,” Rylee said. “I will always thank my younger self for making the decision to commit to a sport that adds value to my everyday life while shaping me into the person I am today.”
She made it to state championships in both cross country and track.
“Rylee set the tone,” said Cross Country Coach Chris Johnson of her senior season. “She ran with passion and confidence. As she continued to improve, so did the rest of the girls. … After seeing what Rylee did this season, she is one of the greatest leaders I have had the privilege to work with.”
John plans to attend Oregon State University to study chemical engineering.
“I am fascinated by how the world operates, and I find chemistry to be a meeting place of math, science and physics,” he said. “I decided that I wanted to learn more about chemistry, and I found the idea of making new useful substances appealing.”
While in school, John has played football, wrestled and belonged to National Honors Society. His accomplishments include making varsity and winning second in Code-Or-Create.
“I am a determined student who is willing to do what it takes to achieve my goals,” he said. “I have a clear vision of what I want to do, and I am excited to get the opportunity to show the world what I have to offer.”
John also made a name for himself through membership in the Boys and Girls Club of Western Lane County.
According to Neil Wartnik, wrestling coach and English teacher, “John is focused, reliable, diligent, perceptive, thoughtful, generous and wise. In a word, he has integrity. Rarely have I taught a student who was more dedicated to excellence. … His team-mindedness, intensity of focus, delight in understanding, and commitment to solving problems will empower him to thrive.”
Ava plans to study restoration ecology and environmental sciences with University of California at Santa Cruz and Oregon State University.
“All my life, I have loved the outdoors,” she said. “I have always dreamt of having a job where I could spend my days learning about and protecting Oregon's forests.”
Ava has been active in the Power of Florence, Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative and the Knowles Creek Smolt Trap. She also created Florence’s first “little free library.”
“Being able to share what I'm passionate about has always driven me to try new things. So when I can combine my interests with volunteering and helping others, I'm all in,” she said.
According to Siuslaw teacher Shannon Graham, “In 2018, Ava took over as the new director of The Power of Florence. She has a very professional demeanor and worked hard to organize more than 40 nonprofits for this community-wide day. Her responsibilities include communicating with community leaders, creating and maintaining the powerofflorence.org website, directing hundreds of volunteers and advertising through local media outlets and social media. It takes incredible responsibility and a sense of civic responsibility for such a young person to step up to such an important position.”
Chad intends to study general medicine first at Lane Community College and then again after he completes his mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
“My educational plans are quite large,” he said. “I am not entirely sure what my career will end up being, but I know that I want to be one of the following: an orthodontist, sports psychologist, something to do with exercise science, a physician or a physician’s assistant.”
Chad is a varsity athlete in cross country, track and basketball, as well as an Eagle Scout and Rhody Prince.
“I am glad that I have had the opportunity to give back to my community. I am an Eagle Scout, and part of that included planning and executing updates to the park on Munsel Lake Road. … Through scouting I have logged around 300 hours of service, most coming from my Eagle project.”
According to Johnson, “Chad is the kind of kid who seems to be able to do everything. Perhaps what makes him so rare is his ability to take on every type of activity, but still find a way to do all of these with such success.”
Camp plans to study communications at Utah State University and go on a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
He said he is motivated to do the best he can, and, while others call him “competitive,” he also calls it passionate.
“When I serve in the community, it is because I love the community,” Camp said. “I enjoy working to the benefit of this wonderful place, and I appreciate all the other community members that do the same.”
Camp is a varsity athlete in track and field, football and basketball. His experience also includes working with his family’s business, Boy Scouts, Rotary Interact, National Honor Society, Boys and Girls Club, student Leadership, church youth group and the 2022 Rhody Court.
“Camp is old school,” Johnson said. “He is mature beyond his years, and he has a tremendous amount of talent to go along with an incredible work ethic. He is respected by staff and students. He is a vocal leader and a leader by example. Camp is the type of person that makes the things around him better. Our school is a better place from having his positive influence.”
Winnie will attend University of Oregon to study business administration with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and a minor in economics
“I intend to become an ecopreneur,” she said. “Contrary to the millions polluting the environment, I wish to establish a sustainable business in which the environment comes before profits.”
Winnie is involved in Interact, Key Club, National Honors Society, leadership, band and more in the school and community.
“I learned that kindness leaves a trail of positive ramifications. One person has the ability to influence the mood of several individuals,” she said. “The meaningful connections produced within the community with volunteers presents a drive and motivation to continue on.”
According to Anna Moser, former Leadership teacher, “When Winnie speaks, people listen because they know what she has to say is important.”
Former band teacher Chris Rowbotham said, “During the time I was Winnie's band teacher, I saw her grow both as a positive member in our school and as a musician. She always showed that she was willing to do what was best for the "team.” In terms of leadership, she not only was very active in our band council but she also became a student director of our community outreach ensemble.”
People can learn more through florencechamber.com.