A Kwalikum Secondary School (KSS) graduate was chosen as one of four students to win a national $20,000 4-H scholarship.
Elena Sales was selected for the Environment and Healthy Living Pillar of the 4-H Canada Leadership Excellence Awards of Distinction (L.E.A.D.) The awards recognize youth who have become exceptional leaders through their 4-H experience, and who share the best of themselves with their communities, according to a news release by 4-H Canada.
“It was such an incredible feeling,” she said. “I’m almost starting crying, it was so amazing.”
Sales, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science at McGill University, will put the funds towards her tuition and housing.
“This money helps me actually focus on my studies instead of having to worry about having to pay for my studies, which is a really big help,” she said. Sales added Montreal is quite a contrast to Qualicum Beach
“Of course I love both. But I definitely find Montreal is just so vibrant and so full of life, it’s really exciting to be here right now.”
Sales said she challenged herself by joining the 4-H public speaking club, which helped her get past her shyness and inspired her to use her voice to advocate for change.
As student council president, she led a district-wide zero waste initiative and implemented a composting and recycling program at KSS. She has also been involved with various municipal and community environmental committees.
“As one of our senior members, Elena has been a mentor and role model for many of our younger members and a tremendous support to us as leaders,” said Peter van Dongen, one of the volunteer leaders for Snapshots 4-H Photography Club. “We are so proud of everything she has accomplished and contributed to our club and our community.”
Sales co-founded the Vancouver Island Eco Restoration organization in 2021 and started an annual trash cleanup challenge, which removed more than 1,000 pounds of garbage over several years. She also led student council to publish a youth anthology on climate change, with all proceeds going to environmental non-profits.
Sales also enjoys spending time as an actress, singer, dancer and track and field athlete.
L.E.A.D., which is supported by CN, is 4-H Canada’s most prestigious honour, recognizing outstanding youth members who demonstrate 4-H values in their everyday lives.