Keep Lake Beautiful volunteer earns Youth Champion Award

Rachel Clark personifies the mission of Keep Lake Beautiful: to beautify Lake County by engaging the community.

Rachel, who recently graduated from Mount Dora High School, coordinated a lake cleanup for her classmates this year in conjunction with Keep Lake Beautiful and Lake County’s Adopt-a-Lake Program. For her work, Rachel received the Outstanding Youth Champion Award from Keep Florida Beautiful, of which Keep Lake Beautiful is an affiliate. The award honors an engaged young person who demonstrates leadership in promoting behavioral change on litter prevention, recycling, and beautification, a county news release states.

She also planted 50 cypress trees on the campus of Lake-Sumter State College in Leesburg, and says she’d like to continue that project in other parts of the county. Starting this fall, Rachel will attend LSSC on a volleyball scholarship. She plans to study political science, hoping to one day spearhead environmental change at a higher level, she says.

“It’s an important issue to me because it’s something that affects everyone,” says Rachel, who lives in Sorrento. “No matter where or who you are, the environment affects us all.”

At age 18, Rachel is virtually a lifelong volunteer. She started volunteering in elementary school, spurred by her mother, who is a supervisor with the Lake County Water Resource Management Laboratory. As a youngster, in 2007 and 2008, Rachel received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her efforts with the Lake County recycling program. She also has worked on lakeshore restorations and stormwater drainage marking projects, performed a recycling-themed puppet show at summer camp, and guest-hosted a radio show about litter prevention, according to the release.

“Volunteering is so rewarding and fun,” Rachel says in the release. “I think everybody has what it takes to make a big difference in the world. Little things like saving electricity, turning off the water when you brush your teeth, and recycling are really easy to do.”

Rachel received her award from Will Dawson, coordinator of Keep Lake Beautiful, and Cathie Catasus, the Adopt-a-Lake Program coordinator. (shown in photo)

“For many years, Rachel has used her leadership skills to help improve Lake County’s environment,” Will says in the release. “We are lucky to have such a dedicated teen volunteer engaging her peers about the importance of protecting our natural resources, and we are thrilled that she is being honored for her great work.”

Since its inception, Keep Lake Beautiful has hosted or partnered on more than 20 projects, including community and waterway cleanups, roadside litter pickups, neighborhood and school beautification events, tree plantings, and household hazardous waste collection events.

To register as a volunteer or to become a sponsor of future events in Lake County, visit or call 352.253.1660. For information about the Adopt-a-Lake Program, contact Cathie Catasus at 352.253.1659 or

Photos courtesy of Lake County Public Information Office