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As students filled the bleachers at Henley High School for their annual end-of-term assembly, one sophomore received special recognition and a large check for outstanding efforts in the community.

Nicole Cleland, a sophomore at Henley, received a $1,000 donation courtesy of U.S. Cellular’s ‘The Future of Good’ program, an annual charity established to recognize and assist students doing profoundly positive work in their communities. Cleland is the third student in the Klamath Basin to receive the honor since the program was established four years ago. She is one of four students selected nationwide for 2018.

Last year, Cleland established a weekly after-school program for elementary school students in third- through fifth-grade called “Beyond the Bell,” offering a fun and educational opportunity for positive and social activities. This year, she has moved it to a monthly event, offering activities such as creating miniature farms with their own irrigation systems and growing a garden.

Presenting the award were several representatives of U.S. Cellular, including Cora Christ, who has worked with the regional Klamath Falls U.S. Cellular store for many years. It was at Christ’s suggestion to Cleland’s parents that she applied for The Future of Good Program, one of more than 300 applicants doing great things in their communities.

Cleland is a member of Henley FFA and was selected in November as the 2018 Miss City of Sunshine’s Outstanding Teen. It was after seeing an article about Cleland being named Miss City of Sunshine that Christ thought Cleland should also apply for the Future of Good award.

“The selection process is completely organic, put forth to a board not affiliated with U.S. Cellular,” explained Christ. “It is completely funded by U.S. Cellular as a campaign to promote young individuals to continue to do great things in the community.”

The funds provided will go towards supplies and promotion of Cleland’s after-school program, which focuses on teaching elementary students how science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills affect the agriculture industry. The move to a monthly event rather than weekly is in part due to time management, since Cleland was named Chief Science Officer this year for the organization.

“I was ecstatic when I found out that I received the award, and very excited that I will be able to use it to further my cause,” said Cleland.

“When I joined FFA I did so for public speaking, I wasn’t that interested in agriculture, but I never knew that if you wanted t go into agriculture you didn’t have to be a farmer. It is important to get kids interested from an early age, our culture is always changing and there will always be a need for new technology and scientists.”

“Nicole’s passion and commitment to educating young lives is truly inspiring,” said Erryn Andersen, U.S. Cellular’s director of sales in the northwest. “She is setting an incredible example for her peers and community, and we are in awe of the selfless acts of good she’s doing here in Klamath Falls.”

email, @kliedtkeHN

Staff reporter for the Herald and News.