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Middle school student honored for volunteer efforts
Elephant- Hannah Testa receives awards for her volunteerism efforts from District 24 state Rep. Sheri Gilligan and District 27 state Sen. Michael Williams

A Forsyth County student received volunteerism awards from state lawmakers and was presented a letter from the President at the Vickery Creek Middle School honors night on May 26.

Hannah Testa, a rising eighth-grader who has been involved with wildlife and environmental volunteerism since a young age, was honored with Senate Resolution SR1034 from the Georgia General Assembly, presented by state Sen. Michael Williams.

She also was given a Presidential Volunteer Service Award with a signed letter from President Obama and the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, of which Testa was one of only eight Georgian recipients and the only one from Forsyth County.

“I was truly honored,” Testa said. “I was also shocked to have received a letter from President Obama for the President’s Volunteer Service Award and was shocked to have Sen. Williams come to our school to present to me the Georgia state senate resolution.”

The awards were given to the 13-year-old for her efforts in educating others about wildlife and plastic pollution and its effect on animals.

“From kindergarten, I have utilized my leadership skills to teach and influence others and become a voice for those that do not have a voice,” Testa said, “in particular, rhinos, elephants, horses, bears, dolphins, and orcas.”

Currently, Testa is partnering with Ted’s Montana Grill and Aardvark Straws to convince restaurants to reduce or eliminate plastic straws as a step toward curbing plastic pollution.

“Plastic straws are just a small part of the plastics that end up in our oceans, but they are an easy target,” she said. “Did you know that 1 billion plastic straws are used worldwide each day? That is an outrageous number. Most people don’t use straws at home, so why do we need them at restaurants?”

Testa is also working on a project to educate parents about stainless steel lunchboxes. When a buyer uses certain coupon code when purchasing a lunchbox, 15 percent of the proceeds will be donated to Save the Horses, a rescue farm Testa volunteers at that rehabilitates abused or neglected horses in Forsyth County.

Testa said she does not plan on stopping her volunteerism anytime soon and that she already has big plans for the future.

“I hope to be a marine biologist or something similar where I can take care of animals,” she said. “I still want to be a voice for those that do not have a voice and use my influence to inspire change in this world. I love at this time in my life to be able to show people that they can make a difference – you don’t have to be an adult to make changes in this world.”