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Conner Prairie Youth Volunteer Wins Governor's Service Award

Conner Prairie Youth Volunteer Wins Governor’s Service Award

September 17, 2013 | 01:10 PM

Greenfield resident and Conner Prairie youth volunteer Taylor Zimmerman, 16, wants to save the world – and she's starting by raising awareness about young women who are abused by human trafficking. She has her life planned out, and it's a good plan.

"I want to go to Johnson University in Tennessee and major in not-for-profit management," she said. "I'd like to minor in media relations and then move to Asia and help prevent and bring awareness to human trafficking through documentaries."

This is just the type of person Zimmerman is, always looking out for others and volunteering her time to make a difference. For these reasons and her service to Conner Prairie, she has been awarded the 2013 Governor's Youth Service Award.

She will receive her honor during a ceremony on Oct. 3 at the Indiana Statehouse. She will also give a short speech, something she said she could have never done before volunteering at Conner Prairie.

"This is my fourth year as a youth volunteer at Conner Prairie," said Zimmerman. "I used to be shy and bashful, but volunteering has made me become more confident in who I am. I could never have given a speech like this before."

Zimmerman has donated more than 2,060 hours to Conner Prairie over the past four years, working in costume or helping in the Animal Encounters Barn. "I love it," she said. "I absolutely love volunteering at Conner Prairie. I have learned so many life skills, and I love interacting with both the staff and guests."

Sarah Morin, youth experience manager at Conner Prairie, who nominated Zimmerman for the award, said, "Taylor is a standout. She has a positive attitude and good rapport with the other youth and staff. I've yet to see her do anything but jump at the chance to try something new when we need her. I am so proud of her, and she is very deserving of the award. I like to think I can inspire kids to help others through this program, but in fact, Taylor's initiative inspires me to do more in my own life."

Zimmerman is a homeschooled sophomore who enjoys cooking, spending time with family and helping others. In fact, she is spearheading a four-mile walk/run on Saturday, September 21 in Greenfield, Ind., to raise money for Rapha House, a non-profit organization committed to ending the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.

"When I became a youth volunteer at Conner Prairie, I helped with Follow the North Star (a program where participants are asked to take on the role of fugitives on the Underground Railroad), and it really made me think about how slavery is still going on today," Zimmerman said. "I wanted to do something to help."

More than 170 people are signed up to participate in the run/walk. For more information on how to participate or donate to Zimmerman's Walk/Run 4 Freedom, visit www.walkrun4freedom.weebly.com.

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