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Scout's work earns national honor

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

Imagine winning $25,000 in new shoes, clothes and toys, and then giving it all away.

That's what Girl Scout Sarah Nagy gets to do.

For her work in getting Camp Wai Lani in Palm Harbor designated as a sanctuary by the Girl Scouts, Nagy was named one of 10 runners-up in a scholarship contest sponsored by react, a national weekly entertainment magazine for teenagers.

But the goods aren't her prize, the chance to give them away is.

"She just gets to be a philanthropist," said Catherine Hemlepp, a react spokeswoman.

Nagy gets to choose up to three non-profit groups to share in the donations from the New World Foundation and Kids in Distressed Situations Inc., two national charities that help children and families.

She hasn't decided which groups to help, but Nagy wants them close to home.

"I'm just looking around, seeing which ones need it," said Nagy, a Clearwater High School junior.

Nagy, 17, is featured on Page 10 of this week's magazine, which is distributed on Saturdays by the Times in editions in Hillsborough County and parts of Pasco County.

Published by Parade Publications, react has a readership of more than 4.6-million and is circulated in 130 newspapers nationwide.

The magazine received more than 700 applications for the contest, which asked teenagers to describe something they had done that made a positive change in their community.

Besides the 10 runners-up, the contest had five winners, who each received a $20,000 college scholarship. Their projects included starting an environmental club and magazine; lobbying for a new elementary school and working to save a national monument in New Mexico; and leading human rights campaigns in Southern California.

"These kids are absolutely phenomenal," Hemlepp said.

The contest's winners and runners-up were picked by a panel of six judges that included Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel and James Webb Jr., former secretary of the Navy.

The magazine's contest isn't the first time Nagy has been recognized for her work at the Girl Scout camp, which sits on almost 50 acres off Alt. U.S. 19 between Alderman and Klosterman roads in Palm Harbor.

Last year, she earned the Girl Scouts' highest honor _ a Gold Award _ for cataloging the hundreds of animals and plants that call the camp home.

"Sarah has everything she needs to be a successful woman of the future," said Vicki Yarnal, director of development for the Suncoast Girl Scout Council.

A Girl Scout for 12 years, Nagy belongs to Troop 250 at Clearwater High School. Her mother, Heather, is one of its leaders.

Mrs. Nagy worked with her daughter during the 18 months it took to document the animals and plants at the camp. They had the help of volunteer specialists, such as botanists and marine biologists, friends and troop volunteers.

"I'm proud of her, but I'm her mommy," Mrs. Nagy said.

Sarah Nagy said her motivation to have the camp declared a sanctuary was simple: "I wanted to save it for future generations," she said.