URI 4-H nominee wins Prudential Spirit of Community Award

Posted on
KINGSTON, R.I. – February 18, 2015 – Alyssa Grayson of Coventry, an eighth grader at Rocky Hill School and an active member of the Wags-n-Tails 4-H club in West Greenwich, is one of two Rhode Island winners of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. She was nominated by the University of Rhode Island 4-H program.


An enthusiastic wildlife advocate, Grayson visits schools, libraries, wildlife refuges and other organizations throughout Rhode Island to give presentations about wolves and the importance of protecting them in the wild. She developed her interest in wolves as a young child after watching an animated movie about a wolf-dog. When she was in second grade she started a wolf club at her school.


“I nominated Alyssa for the Prudential Spirit of Community Award because she is dedicated to community service and educating the public about wildlife conservation,” said Heidi Wright, 4-H program coordinator at the URI Cooperative Extension. “She is an excellent representative of 4-H, a leader in her 4-H club, and determined to make a difference in the world.”


Grayson learned public speaking through 4-H, which sponsors annual public speaking competitions. She placed first in the 2014 statewide contest in the junior category for illustrated talks, and she will defend her title next month. Her 4-H club focuses on learning about dogs through obedience classes, volunteering at animal shelters, and raising money for dog parks.


In addition to giving presentations about wolves to local groups, she has lobbied federal officials to maintain wolves’ status as an endangered species and volunteered to help study coyote populations in Rhode Island. She will also participate in a debate about wolf management in a wildlife biology class at URI in March.


The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is the country’s largest youth recognition program based on volunteer service. As a Rhode Island honoree, Grayson will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and a trip to Washington, D.C., in May, during which 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers.


URI 4-H is a youth development program that combines hands-on education with life skills. Each of Rhode Island’s 38 clubs focus on a different subject, from science and technology to animals and health. For more information about 4-H, contact Heidi Wright at 401-874-9412 or heidi_wright@uri.edu.


Pictured above: Award winner Alyssa Grayson competes in the 4-H public speaking contest at Smithfield High School in February 2015. Photo by Cheri Grayson.