Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) volunteer Brianna Machuga, a Cuyahoga Falls resident, was honored at a ceremony on Feb. 21 in Washington, D.C. The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation presented the George and Helen Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service-Youth Award to Brianna for her efforts as a youth volunteer at CVNP.
Brianna was nominated by Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) Volunteer Coordinator Sherri Lemley. Brianna volunteers as an actress, office assistant, and program assistant for youth and special event programs, which include Underground Railroad and the Polar Express.™ In 2011, Brianna approached CVSR with an idea to collect winter gear for area homeless shelters from Polar Express™ volunteers and attendees. Brianna was able to deliver 140 coats and more than 300 hats, gloves, and scarves to local shelters. Brianna is a junior at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.
"We are very proud that Brianna Machuga was the recipient of the national Outstanding Volunteer Service-Youth Award," said CVNP Superintendent Stan Austin. "Her initiative to combine a holiday program with giving back to the community is inspiring. Brianna is a role model for area teens on how to engage and support the national park in their backyard. Her award is a testimony to the continued support and growth of the volunteer program, which reached 5,900 volunteers last year. We are very pleased to have Brianna represent the park's volunteer program in Washington."