VolunTeen program helps student prep for future

By Jessica Healey | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | April 04, 2014

Melissa Riley, 17, has aspirations of becoming a veterinarian one day. The VolunTeen Program through the American Red Cross at Fort Riley is helping her achieve her goal, she said.

Through the program, Riley has had the opportunity to volunteer with the Fort Riley Veterinary Office for the past three years.

“Volunteering gives me the chance to get to see how each day goes, and what I would be dealing with if I decided to do that,” Riley said.

A senior at Junction City High School, Riley will graduate in the spring and has been accepted into Kansas State University, where she will begin taking classes in the fall.

Riley said she was inspired to become at veterinarian when she was about 12 years old, while on a visit to the veterinarian’s office with a family pet.

Being able to volunteer in a veterinary office has helped her confirm her passion for animals, she said.

“I’ve always loved animals and always wanted to be able to help them, since they can’t really tell you what’s wrong,” Riley said.

Her favorite wild animal is the cheetah, Riley said, and her favorite domestic animal is a dog.

On average, Riley said she spends about six to nine hours a week volunteering.

She has completed more than 200 volunteer hours since she began, far exceeding the 35 services hours required to graduate high school.

She has completed so many hours, Riley said, because she loves doing it.

“The best thing about volunteering is being able to meet new people, hear about things that go on in world outside the bubble of being a teenager,” she said. “I think every teen should volunteer. It’s a really good way to do what I do, see what you want to do in the future, and also meet a lot of new people and learn new things.”

For more information about the VolunTeen program, call the American Red Cross at Fort Riley at 785-239-1887.