Between preparing for final exams, Cooper Bennett was preoccupied this year with mini cyclones, first aid, and teaching aviation and field craft to others.
The Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College Year 12 graduate received a John Lincoln Youth Community Service award in September for his time as a Royal Australian Air Force cadet, Catechism teacher and NSW State Emergency Services volunteer.
Cooper plans to become a paramedic or firefighter and said the Information and Digital Technology he studied at Southern Cross would have an impact on his future career.
We need more people my age … to do things for the community.
He said his path to the volunteer award began when he joined the cadets at age 14.
“That’s where my passion for community service and helping people really started to grow,” he said.
“People are always saying that the younger generation is the future and that’s definitely the case.
“I wasn’t expecting the recognition – I volunteer because I love it and we need more people my age, in my opinion, to do things for the community.”
As an SES volunteer, Cooper helped police with crowd control and paramedics with first aid at this year’s City2Surf. He was on standby to help Rural Fire Service volunteers when fire ripped through bushland in Sydney’s south earlier this year.
“Even though we’re a flood, tsunami and storm combat agency, we also help out with fire and rescue,” he said.
“A couple of months back, when there were fires in Holsworthy, I was on standby to help.
“Last year we had a mini cyclone that ripped through about three [Sutherland Shire] suburbs.”