Why is 16-year-old Celeena Johnson so enamored with zoology?
"The Animal Planet dude," she says.
"When I was little, my mom would put it on the television," Celeena said. "When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be Steve Irwin."
Celeena, president of the Camp Verde Community Library's Teen Advisory Board (TAB), is one of 250 students selected to serve as National Youth Delegate to the 2016 Washington Youth Summit on the Environment at George Mason University.
Celeena, who also goes by the nickname C. C., says her interest in zoology, animals and the environment has been lifelong and is scientific in nature. This makes sense, considering her stellar grades at Camp Verde High School.
Celeena also says she has no interest in being a veterinarian. Which also makes sense, given her distaste for blood.
"Celeena maintains a 4.0 GPA and is very involved in her school and community library," said Richard K. Friesner, Ph.D., Director of the Washington Scholars Program and Special Partnerships Program Director, Washington Youth Summit on the Environment at George Mason University.
According to Friesner, delegates were chosen either by nomination from their school or by the university through information it receive about students interests and/or academic ability from college entrance exams such as SAT or ACT, or through data from the National Research Center for College and University Administrators), which conduct high school interest/career surveys.
According to Friesner, Celeena was selected by the university. "She has been interested in zoology and veterinary science from a young age."
Former TAB president and current member Bill Cook has been friends with Celeena since they helped found TAB in 2013. Cook says that though Celeena has "always been a great student," her maturity has "blossomed - and now she has learned about life."
"All our friends at the library are very proud of her," Cook says. "It's pretty awesome that she's going to Washington D.C."
One of the first things Celeena looks forward to doing at the nation's capital, she said, is go to the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Geographic Society. And the gala dinner "with important people."
"I hope to meet somebody willing to help be an eye-opening inspiration," said Celeena. "I want to have a career that involves helping animals. But not really. I'm interested in how animals work with the environment to get things done."
The Washington Youth Summit on the Environment will be held June 26 through July 1.