Bogen wins state awardPublished 7:46pm Thursday, February 14, 2013
Union High School junior Nick Bogen was almost late for Dowagiac’s Christmas parade receiving Michigan’s “Teenage Coordinator of the Year” at the two-day Citizen Corps conference at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City.
Bogen, 17, as a sophomore in December 2011, won statewide honorable mention for outstanding volunteer as the youngest Cass County CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member.
“It was a huge surprise,” Bogen, who attends Southwestern Michigan College three days a week, said Tuesday. “I had a feeling something was going on because we were going to leave at noon to direct traffic at the Christmas parade. I ran out with the award!”
For ACTION (Area Churches Together in One Network), Bogen coordinates public safety for the June Family Reach Out carnival.
“My whole family calls me a control freak,” he said, “but I have to be part of something. I play tons of video games, but I find time to do other stuff. I’d go crazy in the summer if I didn’t do stuff like the Memorial Day parade or Steve’s Run. This small town does big things. Our Christmas parade is one of the biggest in Michigan. It’s nice to talk to visitors. People who don’t do stuff, I feel sorry for them. They’re missing out.”
The Michigan Citizen Corps program helps communities coordinate volunteers to prepare for and respond to local emergencies.
It trains and engages volunteers to make communities safer, stronger and better prepared to respond to emergencies and disasters of all kinds, including threats of terrorism, natural disasters, crime and public health issues.
The support of Citizen Corps activities are especially important during major disasters when first responders may be initially overwhelmed.
CERT originated in 1985 with the Los Angeles City Fire Department.
Nick got involved at 14 “tagging along” behind his grandparents, Don and Clara Wolford, patrolling the fairgrounds.
“My grandparents were in one of the first CERT classes at the sheriff’s office,” he said. “They’ve been with it a long time. My grandpa always wanted to be a fireman. He’s an electrician and secretary for the Wayne Township fire board.”
Bogen’s looking forward to his 18th birthday in March so he can finally take search-and-rescue class. Monday night he was at Lake Michigan College, learning about pipelines.
He is the son of Jeff and Debbie Bogen and has a younger sister, Lindsey. He presented a program to Rotary as a freshman on Oct. 7, 2010. He’s taken storm training, first aid and animal response, volunteered at the Council on Aging and is a trained EOC (Emergency Operations Center) support volunteer.
At DUHS, he’s done morning announcements, been editor-in-chief of the yearbook, coordinated communications for the Chieftain Heart spirit club and did public relations for the high school musical, “The Sound of Music.”
Nick can be found at Steve’s Run or Safety Corner during the Summer in the City festival. He referees youth soccer.
Yet after graduation in 2014 Bogen wants to attend Valparaiso to become a meteorologist.
“What other job can you have where you can be wrong 50 to 75 percent of the time and still have a good job?” he said. “Not broadcasting, but National Weather Service. I’m a huge storm freak. My mom hates that I’m a storm spotter (with NWS), which I took through CERT. Every time it hails, I get my phone out. My grandpa and I have been planning to go storm chasing for three or four years. Valparaiso has its own storm-chasing team, which is why I want to go there. Central does, too. Whenever there’s a tornado watch, I set up a command post in my bedroom with my portable TV and weather radio.”
His other grandfather, Carl Bogen, is a Red Cross instructor.
“Our church (Federated Covenant) is a Red Cross shelter now, Bogen said. It has a combined youth group with First Christian Church directed by Chad Benkert.
“Our youth group has a room we painted purple and black,” he said. “Sunday nights we play laser tag throughout the church. Shooting other people at church doesn’t sound very Christian, does it?”
Student Senate, which he hopes to be president of senior year after six years of involvement going back to middle school, is interested in representing students every month at Dowagiac Board of Education.
“I like going to school board meetings,” he said. “They’re interesting,” like the last one with Chieftain Heart and the band’s second director. “I help with the band,” he said. “I’m the band aide. There has been no student voice at these meetings. You need to know what students are thinking. When they brought up the freshman coaches” to mentor ninth graders struggling to make the transition from middle school, “I’m thinking to myself, we’ve got seniors failing who won’t graduate, so if this is successful for the freshmen, we need help at every grade. If you baby them too much at one level, you throw them to the wolves.”
Nick, junior prince for Winterfest, said the Chieftain mascot the Michigan Department of Civil Rights wants to retire “is a good thing. You’re supporting your local heritage. Dowagiac is named after a band of Indians. Why take that away?”
Next year he’s contemplating joining Rotary Interact at DUHS.
Not that he needs to pad his resume.
“Mine’s going to be four pages long,” he said.