Palmetto High School junior Daniel Brooks already has approximately 1,200 community service hours under his belt and he still has his senior year to go. Some of those hours come from working at the Mini- Canes Sports Camp at the University of Miami where he was a sports aide for the past two years.
“I think working with kids is really rewarding because you help them grow; I mentor them,” Brooks says. “We taught them sports and we played with them.” He worked at the camps for two weeks each summer. His mother is a UM employee, which is how he became connected with the camp.
Brooks also worked with 10-11 year old kids as a camp counselor at a sleep-away camp in North Carolina.
“Camp Carolina is really gorgeous,” he says. “There’s a lot outside you can do. I went there when I was younger for four or five years. It was really enjoyable.” In fact, Brooks discovered his love for white water kayaking at Camp Carolina. Now he looks for every opportunity to go kayaking.
“There were a couple of experiences that were pretty crazy, like going down these Category 4 rapids,” he says. “My dad was so impressed, but not my mom.”
Brooks particularly likes to go kayaking on Lake Tahoe because there are rivers in the area that he says are awesome. With his daredevil personality, a tame sport like football just isn’t enough, so he plays lacrosse.
“I thought it was an attractive sport,” he says. “It was aggressive and fast paced and a lot of my friends were doing it.” Brooks also enjoys traveling. He was born in Australia and both parents are British, so he has three passports.
“I’ve been all over Europe, Italy, France and Spain,” he says. “We’re going to go to Australia. I haven’t been back since we moved.”
Brooks has been taking Spanish in school because he wants to be able to converse easily when he travels to South America.
Currently, Brooks has been working on a community service project to help the environment. He applied for two grants through Fairchild Tropical Garden. One is a Water Wise Grant and the other is from the National Environmental Education Foundation. “Basically it’s called Every Drop Counts,” he says.
The idea is to spread water conservation education throughout Pinecrest by handing out pamphlets with water saving tips. He and his friends have conducted a survey on home water use and they have produced a commercial and a slide presentation to show on television to help the cause.
Brooks says he became fascinated with saving the environment while taking Advanced Placement Environmental Science last year. His interest in environmental science may lead to a career in environmental engineering or he may do something in a health-related field.
“I definitely want to travel and help people in the health field,” he says. Because of the class he has also spearheaded a cell phone recycling drive. The top school wins cash prizes and a concert by Boys Like Girls.
When he begins making his college applications, he says he will probably consider a competitive school in the northeast or one on the west coast, but the school will need a strong research academy to be considered.
“The benefit of going to the west coast is that I’ll be close to Lake Tahoe, and that’s a big plus,” he says.