Cabrillo National Monument

Teen Named National Park Service's Top Youth Volunteer

Local teenager receives national recognition

NBC Universal, Inc.

A San Diego County high school senior was recognized recently as one the National Park Services top volunteers for her work at the Cabrillo National Monument.

“Truly amazing. I couldn’t believe it,” said a smiling Sita Antel as she stood in front of the Point Loma Lighthouse.

Sita was just awarded the National Park Service’s George and Helen Hartzog Youth Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. The 17-year-old started working as a volunteer docent shortly after she impressed one of the Park Rangers as a child. She’s currently a senior at Mission Bay High School.

“And they said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come and join,’ and that was actually when I was 11," Antel said as she walked toward the lighthouse. "So I’ve been doing it quite a long time. I’m 17 now,”

One of the Cabrillo Park Rangers nominated Sita for the award after the teen researched, created and presented an interactive display in August 2020 celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in the United States.

"Sita created a 'picket garden' of replicas of real protest signs held by suffragists during the first protest in front of the White House," according to the park service's website, adding that she also "coordinated and communicated on all work with the event lead park ranger, and volunteered at the evening events."

“I was truly honored,” Sita told NBC 7 on Thursday. “I love women’s history. I was excited to get my hands dirty.”

The National Park Service relies heavily on roughly 300,000 volunteers in its parks countrywide. In 2020, its volunteers worked more than 6.5 million hours, saving the organization $185 million, according to the NPS.

“I truly do it because I love it,” said Sita, who hopes to attend the University of California, Berkeley, next year where she would like to study history.

“Even though I’m 17, I did something in this nation and something that I’m proud of and something that I love,” Sita said.

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