AUGUST 5, 2010

Amanda McGehee, “a remarkable and phenomenal young woman!”

By Alannah Allbrett

   Though she’s very petite, Amanda McGehee is a young woman of great stature. She is a congressional medalist, who has earned the bronze, silver, and gold medals in a government program which, similar to 4-H Clubs, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, was formed to help young people realize their own strengths through volunteer service to others.

   As stated on the congressional award website, “The Congressional Award is the United States Congress' award for young Americans. It is non-partisan, voluntary, and non-competitive. The program is open to all 14 to 23 year olds. This is not an award for past accomplishments but to assist and challenge young people in achieving their own goals.”

   Amanda is a native Idahoan, the only child of Jerry and Kristi McGehee. She grew up being involved in her church’s AWANA program, which exposed her to the merits of volunteer work at a young age. Amanda was home schooled until her senior year in high school where she attended Orofino High School and graduated in 2005. Amanda worked there with Mrs. Riley at school in the ‘Maniac Pride’ volunteer group which she says is service oriented.

   Amanda first learned about the congressional award program while reading an advertisement in a home schooling magazine. At first, she felt a little uncomfortable about recording volunteer work, as it was truly something she wanted to do in a selfless way. Her father encouraged her, however, to apply for the program – as she did volunteer work anyway. She found it was a way for her to stay focused and achieve goals while helping others.

   Amanda was involved in the Department of Labor’s, Summer Youth Program where she worked for the Clearwater Hatchery. She swept raceways, fed fish, did landscaping, and painted at the satellite facility at Red River. “It was a neat job,” Amanda said, “where I learned work ethics and to stick with something.”

   Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa is Amanda’s Alma Mater, where she majored in biology and chemistry and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in 2009. While still in college, Amanda started cataloguing her hours and projects. While actively in the program, she completed approximately 1400 community volunteer hours.  It wasn’t all hard work; some of Amanda’s projects were also fun. Amanda’s first project expedition was to plant trees near a pond at Red River, to prevent erosion in a song bird environment.

   She also organized a two night tour to Portland, Oregon where she collected donations for a pregnancy center. Her parents went along as participants.

   To ‘earn the gold’ she set up a support camp at Fish Lake, near Pierce, Idaho, to support  conservation officers for the Department of Fish and Game on a four night outing. The camp was set up as a family campout with the goal of monitoring people fishing, to help game wardens maintain law enforcement regulations in the area.

   Cindy Jesinger, the Executive Director of the Congressional Award Council of Idaho, was Amanda’s coach and mentor in helping her set goals, compile her book of activities, and present her paperwork in a neat, organized manner in order to achieve medalist standards.

   Jesinger said, “Amanda is a remarkable and phenomenal young woman.” She pointed out that initially, Amanda was not aware of the extent of the qualifying rules for the Congressional Award. She learned that many of her volunteer hours were faith-based and could not be accepted. [All eligible volunteer hours for the program must be addressed to the community or public at large.] “She just put her head down and got to work earning more hours,” said Jesinger. “She never got bitter or had a negative attitude about it; she just worked harder.”

   Governor C.L. (Butch) Otter recognized Amanda’s achievements and appointed her to serve on the, Serve Idaho: Governor’s Commission for Service and Volunteerism where she has assisted in several different volunteer efforts throughout the state.

   Amanda is currently studying to pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), on her way towards being a doctor. Her career goal is to be a doctor in the Air Force. Then she believes she might like to go into family practice, “Because they get to do everything from Pediatrics to Geriatrics,” she said. If she chooses a speciality, she might like to become a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) to work in trauma or pediatrics.

   When asked how she possibly envisions her life, say fifteen years from now, Amanda said she is thinking about serving on a trauma team in a rural area, and “hopefully working on an established medical team in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa.” She said her family, friends and church friends have worked with a boarding school and orphanage there and, she’s has always “felt pulled in that direction.”

   “Volunteer work,” said Amanda, “has definitely had a positive impact and opened my eyes to see how I can help people. It gets me out of my comfort zone and shows me I can have an impact on the world.” To have accomplished so much at such a young age is truly inspiring to people of all ages. Congratulations Amanda!

   On August 22, Amanda will be awarded the U.S. President’s Lifetime Volunteer Service Award for 4,000 hours of volunteer community service.

   To learn more about the history, and how to apply to be a part of the Congressional Award program, visit their website at: Also, visit for local volunteer opportunities.