Wyoming Congressional Award medalist Dawson Fantin started a recycling program at Westridge Elementary School in Rock Springs after hearing that the school didn't have a program.
"Everyone really appreciated all I was doing to help out," Fantin said.
Fantin attends Rock Springs High School. He achieved a Gold Medal from the Congressional Award program in 2021. His hours handling the recycling program combined with community volunteer projects like at the senior center contributed to his ability to reach the Gold Medal Award.
A conversation with his aunt led to Fantin starting the recycling program. His aunt told Fantin her frustration with all the cardboard and paper that was just being thrown away at her school, Dawson explained.
Fantin and his aunt spoke to the principal first. The plan was to have Fantin go by all the classrooms and pick up their recyclables once a week. As he got busier with school, he would come by once every two weeks.
If interested in starting a similar program, Fantin recommends speaking with the principal. "I'm sure he/she would be more than happy to work with the participant," he said.
"With as much as I recycled, I can't imagine how much was going to the dump from other schools, so it would be great if more participants and schools could get on board with this idea!" he added.
In addition to recycling, Fantin volunteered quite a bit at the senior center by doing dishes, serving meals, lots of cleaning, calling Bingo, and even playing a part in a murder mystery dinner.
"I met some amazing people and had a lot of fun at the same time," Fantin said.
He also helped raise $1,000 for the senior center. His father works for ExxonMobil, and they have a community involvement program that will donate $500 for every 20 hours he or his family volunteers up to $2,000 per year.
Additionally, Fantin volunteered at the CAB (Central Administration Building) where he helped the tech department with the computer equipment. He learned a lot about computers and did a great deal of cleaning and resetting the computers given out to the students.
"I was very lucky to have this opportunity, not only because of all I learned but also because the second summer I volunteered was during COVID - not many places were open to having volunteers," Fantin said.
Now that Fantin has completed his Gold Record Book, he plans to keep in touch with the senior center and offer his help for special events such as Oktoberfest and others as he is able to with school and afterschool activities.
He also watches for volunteer opportunities with Cowboys Against Cancer (CAC) and the High School National Rodeo which he really wants to do when it returns to Sweetwater County.
Fantin has volunteered for Cowboys Against Cancer. He has helped paint cowboy boots and volunteered at the banquet. Fantin and other high school students were recognized for volunteer work with Cowboys Against Cancer.
To reach his expedition goal, Fantin enjoyed his trips to Sinks Canyon and to New Fork Lakes.
"I learned how to fillet a fish, drive a boat, cook on an open fire, as well as spend some quality time with my dad," he said. "Most importantly, I learned I could survive without cell service!"
Fantin became aware of the Congressional Award when his older brother went through the program. He loved getting involved in the community with all the volunteer work and continued to do it even after receiving his gold.
"I was jealous at the time that I couldn't volunteer along with him," recalled Dawson, pointing out his brother is eight years older, so he was a little young at the time.
Fantin recommended other youth to sign up for the Congressional Award program, saying it is totally worth the time, commitment, and dedication.
"I learned so much and made so many friends with others my age, as well as adults that I still communicate with today," he said. "I still go by the senior center every so often just to say hello to some of the people I worked with, and we love seeing each other and finding out what everyone is up to."