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Amazing Kids! of the Month

Amazing Kids! is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of the Month!

Each month, we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing things.  We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire other kids to accomplish their own amazing achievements. 

Amazing Kids! of the Month for January, 2005: 
Amazing Junior Naturalist, Will Schoenhals; Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Quotes of the Month

"Will has really made a difference at the [Three Forks Nature] Center.  He is a very kind, caring and compassionate person.  He has made a commitment that not very many kids his age has."

Marty Benson,
Volunteer Coordinator, Three Forks Nature Center

"Working at the Center has taught me a lot of interesting things.  It also taught me how to be kind to the environment."

Will Schoenhals, 11 yrs old
Amazing Junior Naturalist

Happy New Year to all!  The New Year is a good time to take stock of those things that we appreciate most about our lives. We at Amazing Kids! want you to know that we appreciate all of you, our loyal readers and supporters who frequent our Amazing Kids! of the Month stories on a regular basis and who support us with your donations to further the work of our mission: inspiring excellence in children and helping them realize their own amazing potential. Thank you!

Another one of the things we appreciate most in our lives is the awesome beauty of Nature and wildlife.  Our January Amazing Kids! of the Month is a young person who also loves and appreciate Nature and wildlife; so much so, that he volunteers several hours each week at a local Nature Center in his area.  A highly dedicated young "Junior Naturalist," Will Schoenhals, age 11, really loves his work as a volunteer naturalist at the Three Forks Nature Center in Sequoyah, Oklahoma, for many reasons, including taking care of the animals--and catching snakes! 

Read his inspiring story below and who knows?  Maybe you'll discover the Junior Naturalist in you! As Will could tell you, Nature has so many interesting and wonderful animals and adventures just waiting for you!

And don't forget, if you, or a young person (or persons!) you know, has an amazing project you are involved in, or a special skill, talent or ability you want to tell the world about, be sure to let Amazing Kids! know about it!  Teachers are invited to nominate their entire classroom and the amazing projects they are working on too!  Simply complete a nomination form for an Amazing Kid! of the Month award, or email us! 

Table of Contents 

Amazing Will's Story
In His Own Words:  Will the Junior Naturalist
Related Links

Amazing Will's Story
Will Schoenhals, with one of his animal friends,
 at the Three Forks Nature Center 

Amazing young Will Schoenhals, age 11, is a Jr. Naturalist volunteer at Three Forks Nature Center in Sequoyah State Park.  A sixth grade student, he started working at the Center after school and on weekends in December 2002 at the age of 10. Since that time, he has worked over 330 hours at the Center! 

Not only does Will volunteer at the Center, but he presents outreach nature programs to schools in the local area as well as to Boy Scouts day camps. Will is also one of the Center's Jr. Naturalist instructors. As an instructor he helps with the training and orienting of the new volunteers who go through classes, which means he actually trains both kids and adults! These classes are taught in the Spring on four different Saturdays. In order to teach the class he has given up soccer games and Boy Scout campouts. And what's more, Will is the Center's only Jr. Naturalist to have taught the entire set of classes they offer!

Will the instructor, training new volunteers!

Will feeding some fawns (young deer)

Will not only teaches others at the center, he also takes the initiative to help do a variety of tasks.  For example, last year Will painted and relocated 20 signposts to help re-open one of the Center's trails as a self-guided trail. The trail had not been properly marked and used as a self-guided trail in over four years!  Will also assists with the daily maintenance, rehabilitation, and care of the animals at the Center.

Amazing Will also enjoys providing information about the park and activities to the visitors at the Center and also leads or assists with its programs. He works closely with visiting Boy Scout groups, helping with their advancement requirements. Finally, on the Saturdays that he works, he leads the rock painting program and assists with the reptiles program, one of his favorite activities.

Will doing one of his favorite activities:  herping! (catching snakes)
He's keeping a 6-foot long Rat Snake (bottom left corner) busy, while Marty Benson (off camera),
the Center volunteer coordinator, prepares to catch it!

Will helping rehabilitate an injured owl

Kids like Will deserve to earn recognition for such incredible work and dedication.  Not surprisingly, Will has, in fact, earned several awards and much recognition, including the Gold Presidential Community Service Award both in 2003 and 2004, and recognition as a Daily Point of Light, Number 2782, on October 4, 2004.  In addition, he recently received the Jefferson Award in his local town, an award given to "ordinary people doing extraordinary things" by the American Institute for Public Service, which was founded by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Sam Beard and Senator Robert Taft, Jr.  Will appeared on his local television news, Fox 23, in Tulsa, when they interviewed him about his award.  He is now a potential finalist for the national Jefferson Award. 

Will holding a "Racer"

Recently, due to budget constraints and a recent reduction in funding, the staffing at the Center has been reduced. According to Marty Benson, volunteer coordinator for the Three Forks Nature Center,

     "It is because of volunteers like Will, that high quality wildlife educational programs continue to be provided to visitors that come to the park. "

Amazing Kids! is glad to know there are amazing young volunteers like Will who help keep such a vital community resource open and operating with their hard work and good will (no pun intended!).  Keep up the great work, Will!  You can be very proud.

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In His Own Words: Will the Junior Naturalist

Will "wearing" one of his lizard catches as an "earring" --
a Three Forks Center tradition for anyone who catches one!

"Hi! My name is Will Schoenhals from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I work at the Nature Center in Sequoyah State Park. I think this volunteering job is really fun and helpful. I would highly recommend volunteering for anybody who's willing to help and has the time to.

Some of the work I do at the Nature Center is to feed, clean, and maybe even play with the animals and reptiles. My favorite animals are the snakes! I like their color and behavior.

I think working at the Center has taught me a lot of interesting things. It also taught me how to be kind to the environment.

Some of my jobs include teaching new people who want to work at the Center. If anybody ever wanted to join and become a Naturalist, the worst is you have to take a test (which is really easy)! The best is herping; herping is where everybody goes outside and hunts for herps (reptiles)."


Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website:
Sierra Club:

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A Special Message from Amazing Kids! for all you kids:

It's no secret...every person has an "amazing-ness" inside of them, just waiting to be discovered.  (Sometimes we just need a little help in finding out what that "amazing-ness" is!) 

If you are doing some amazing things too, we want to hear about it!  Send us your stories about your amazing accomplishments, so we can tell the world just how amazing you are!  We are always looking for new stories.  And don't be shy!  We'd love to hear from you!

Here's an idea you might want to try:


If you know someone who needs a little encouragement, why not tell them what you think is special about them?  Maybe you can be the one to help them uncover their own special talents! 

Amazing Kids! is looking for teens to be Amazing Teen Volunteers and Ambassadors . If you'd like to join Amazing Kids! in helping to spread the word, please email us at:


  It's cool to be an Amazing Kid!


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