A Casper teen has been named the 2021 Wyoming Youth of the Year. Jinnie Ponder, a sophomore at Roosevelt High School, was announced as the state winner in a virtual ceremony from Cheyenne on April 6, 2021. She will receive a full tuition and fees scholarship (supplement to the Hathaway Scholarship) from the University of Wyoming. She also receives a $2,500.00 award from Boys & Girls Clubs of America Youth of the Year sponsors. Jinnie has been a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming for eight years. She will represent Wyoming in the Boys & Girls Clubs Southwest Region and will compete in the regional competition this summer.
“The Club is where I started to grow from the wallflower I once was and began to socialize with the staff and my peers,” said Jinnie. “I never realized I was part of something so big, until I noticed the little differences I was making in others’ lives.”
The Club became an important part of Jinnie’s life following the death of her mom five years ago. At the age of 10, she withdrew from everything and everyone, scared to get close to anyone in fear that she would lose them, too. The Club gave her a place where she was safe and welcomed during this dark time in her life. She is now considered a leader and mentor at the Club.
Since 1947, Youth of the Year has been Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program, celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Club members. 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.