Nicole Hirtreiter
 Nicole Hirtreiter

She's a piano player and an excellent student and an athlete. This 8th grader is active in her church and she sings in the choir and is an altar server.

Nicole Hirtreiter is also a dedicated member of the 4-H Club, where Jessica Waters is her 4-H Youth Development Agent.

"The 4-H motto and slogan is to make the best netter and to learn buy doing. And Nicole has put those things together and really made an impact in our community and far beyond," Waters said.

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We all felt compassion for the Sevier County fire victims. Nicole set up a wildfire relief fun.

"I raised money through social media. And it went all the way through New York, Florida, all those different types of places and they all pitched in," Nicole said.

Nicole does not like to talk about herself. She is quick to credit Waters and her mom for helping with the logistics of that fundraiser. Her motivation was not praise.

"It made me feel good inside," Nicole said.

Her most personal achievement was inspired by her best friend at Carpenters Middle School who was bullied.

"People called him tons of names and he cried over it. And it made me feel really bad inside so I decided, well, let's take this to the principal's office, talk it over, and see what we can do about it," she said.

An impromptu conversation at her hair salon - with a judge - guided her to establish an anti-bullying project. She calls it Cougars Against Bullying. Students signed a banner to pledge support. She ordered bracelets for people to wear.

"It has a paw print and it says Cougars Against Bullying," Nicole said.

"She has a passion for others. And she finds a problem and she will find an answer for it and then she will be the solution," Jessica said.

Nicole plans to do the bullying campaign again because it was pretty successful.

"There's a lot of people.what have stuck to their word and stayed grounded against bullying and that has helped a lot for him," she said.

For that project she received the Making a Difference award at her school.

The 13-year-old has a general idea of her future goals.

"4-H is kind of my passion. I've been in since I started and I really love it and I hope to have a future career in 4-H," she said.

Meanwhile, she's picked out her costume for Halloween.

"I am planning on dressing up as Wonder Woman," she said.

How appropriate!

We are featuring students making a difference here in East Tennessee in our series 10 Rising Hearts. These are students who reach beyond their schools and families to help make our community better. To nominate a student, please send an email describing them and their community service to

10 Rising Hearts
10 Rising Hearts