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State Honoree

Justin Peters

Iowa

Justin Peters, 17, of Cedar Falls, Iowa, a senior at Cedar Falls High School, established a new volunteer division at a community hospital to refurbish and maintain the hospital’s gardens and grounds. Justin was already a teen volunteer at the hospital when, in mid-1999, “I noticed the deteriorating grounds, which suffered from neglect due to budget hardships,” he explained. With the support of the hospital volunteer coordinator and advice and assistance from the operations manager, Justin went to work on a series of initial improvements. The response from patients, visitors and staff was so positive that he decided to turn his project into an ongoing program. Each year, he has expanded on the ideas that worked well and developed new plans for improvements. And for the past two years he’s recruited members of his school’s science club to help plant and raise flowers. Based on the feedback he’s received, Justin believes attractive hospital grounds can be “an important part of the healing process.” “Something beautiful at a time of great stress can ease the burdens of illness,” he said.