Distinguished Young Ladies from Eel River Valley

Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

Two young ladies, one from Fortuna and one from Rio Dell, will represent Humboldt County at the California Distinguished Young Women finals in July.

Humboldt County's 2014 Distinguished Young Woman is Gwen Christiansen of Fortuna. She and the 2014 Redwood Coast Distinguished Young Woman Haley Dillard were selected during the program held in March at the Winema Theater in Scotia.

Christiansen earned three separate scholarships for a total of $1,400 and Dillard earned four separate scholarships for a total of $1,600. By being selected, both have the opportunity to advance to the next level of competition at the State finals in Bakersfield.

Tia McNaughton was selected as first runner up and will receive a $600 scholarship. This year a total of $4,300 in 10 scholarships were awarded, thanks to money provided by Fortuna Kiwanis, Humboldt Redwood Company, Coast Central Credit Union, Whitchurch Engineering, Town of Scotia and many other local businesses and individuals.

Christiansen's achievements include North Coast Section Soccer Honorable Mention, Eel River Valley Youth Soccer League, Female Referee of the Year, North Coast Section Scholar Athlete, and performer at the 2011 Stagecoach Legacy Awards. Her activities include varsity soccer, Future Farmers of America, chapter reporter and scholarship committee chairwoman for FFA, Girls State Delegate, Fortuna High School marching and jazz bands, Fortuna High Link crew leader, California Scholarship Federation, and peer mediator.

Dillard's achievements include Spain Trip Club president, freshman class president, freshman homecoming lip sync co-chairwoman, sophomore and junior homecoming floats chairwoman, junior prom ticket chairwoman, freshman and junior semi-formal royalty winners, and sophomore semi-formal royalty nominee. Her activities include Interact Club member, Saint Patrick's Alter Society member, California Scholarship Federation, Subway employee, North Coast Dance member, St. Joseph's Catholic Group member, and The Spirit of Aloha Dance member.

The program's goal is to honor young women who excel and to encourage them to continue on the path of excellence by completing their college education and assuming roles of leadership in their communities and professions; thereby becoming role models and setting examples for other young people to follow.

For their support of the Distinguished Young Women program, additional thanks go to Dawna Kyber, Danette Demello, Jennifer Budwig, Erin Dunn, Ross Rowley, Frank Bacik, Susan Pryor, Janice Simmons, and Becky Giacomini.

Photo by Sarah Albin Photography

Gwen Christiansen (left) and Haley Dillard.