MS Military Youth of the Year awarded to Columbus AFB’s youth

  • Published
  • By Airman Hannah Bean
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Columbus AFB’s own Youth of the Year was awarded the Mississippi Military Youth of the Year during a competition in Clarksdale, Mississippi, March 6- 8.

NaTerika Shellman competed against Youth of the Year selections from Keesler AFB and Naval Air Station Meridian. Through her efforts, she received over $5,000 in scholarships and will go on to compete at the Boys and Girls Club of America Southeast Regional Level in Atlanta, June 18.

NaTerika Shellman, daughter of Stanley and Natarsha Shellman, is a student at Caledonia High School who utilizes a lot of her time volunteering and being a part of numerous clubs and activities.

“She loves to give service before others,” said Natarsha, 14th Force Support Squadron chief of resource management. “She has over 400 hours in volunteering, not to mention the stuff that she does that doesn’t get counted to volunteer hours. She’s hard working. She does so much. We are like ‘When do you have time to be a teenager.’ She is always out doing something service-wise. She babysits when she’s not working. I don’t think she realizes how much she does that’s not for herself.”

The competition is a three-day event where competitors will interact with each other in various activities and showcase their skills via interviews and even deliver a speech to an audience.

“Her speech this year was about her growth and how the Boys & Girls Club helped her to get to where was that day,” Natarsha said. “It was really a speech about ‘who I am’ and it was amazing. It was all her own. There was no help. It’s a very inspiring speech.”

Natarsha went on to explain NaTerika’s experiences form her first time competing and how much she has grown this year, showcasing how much she’s grown in the few years and her leadership skills.

“She got to tell the world what she thought about herself,” said Stanley, 14th Flying Training Wing Maintenance Authority contracting officer representative. “It was natural. It wasn’t something she had to remember, she just told them about herself and who she was. She was talking. She explained who she was, how she was, what she felt, what she’s gone through and she ended the speech with ‘My name’s NaTerika Shellman.’ This is my daughter and I’m honestly in awe of how she did that.”

Established in 1947, Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premiere recognition program. It celebrates young people, ages 14 to 18, for their commitment to community service, academic success, good character and citizenship, and establishing long-term goals. The Youth of the Year title recognizes leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle.

Military Youth of the Year, a distinct component of the Youth of the Year program, was introduced In 2013 to recognize outstanding teens served by BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide.