CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — She’s waded through the shallows of Wadden Sea off the coast of the Netherlands at low tide, dragging nets and gathering up oysters as part of a fishing boat crew.
She’s built homes for Habitat for Humanity in North Carolina.
She’s chopped down blighted trees in Delaware.
She’s helped rid a refuge in Florida of invasive species.
She owns her own fashion boutique business and she can even craft handmade shoes.
She’s Savannah Buttery and she’s done more by 22 than most do in a lifetime.
The Brockway High School graduate and junior on the women’s tennis team at Clarion University never turns down a chance for adventure. She never shies way from a new experience or challenge.
After she graduated from Brockway, Buttery decided to take a gap year before she enrolled at Clarion University. But her year “off” was certainly no respite.
She spent 10 months with AmeriCorps, traveling the eastern part of the country helping those in need.
“The main, core values of AmeriCorps are leadership and community service,” Buttery said. “I was a leader before going into the program, but I think the program enhanced the leadership skills I already had and taught me a lot about working on a team. I was with my team 24 hours; never got a break from them. We were living together, working together, always together.”
Living and working so close with other people taught Buttery many things, namely how to resolve conflicts and how to navigate complicated relationships and situations.
It also showed her how a small group doing good things can change the world.
“I really saw the difference we could make,” Buttery said. “We got to see a lot of different scenarios where people needed help. We would have people come up to us and thank us and be super appreciative, and that was just amazing.”
Once her tour with AmeriCorps ended, she headed to the Netherlands for a month to work on a fishing vessel as part of World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
“That’s an experience I’ll probably never have again,” Buttery said. “It was just insane, getting to work on a fishing boat like that.”
It was tough work. She’d rise at 3 a.m., untangle nets and then scoop up oysters at low tide before finally returning home to sleep.
She’d so it again if she could.
(Savannah Buttery stands in the shallows of the Wadden Sea near the fishing vessel where she worked in the Netherlands)
Buttery is no stranger to being on the road. Her mother, Suzane Buttery, is a Master Segeant in the United States Air Force and has traveled the world. She inspired Savannah to do the same.
“I think growing up I always had this interpretation from her that if you have a chance to do something, do it,” Buttery said.”Whenever I had the chance to travel, it was something she encouraged, that it would help me gain a bigger perspective of the world.”
Buttery has certainly seen more than most. Her feet have touched soil in eight different countries, including Italy, Switzerland, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
She wants to visit many more places.
Australia is on her list. So is Vietnam. She even hopes to see Antartica one day.
Buttery thinks it’s important to go beyond one’s little corner of the world.
“The one piece of advice I always give anyone is if you have the ability to travel the world, or travel to any country overseas, then do it,” Buttery said. “It’s going to broaden your knowledge of different cultures and just how the world works.”
Tennis is just a small part of Buttery’s life, but a very important one.
She didn’t pick up the sport until she was a freshman at Brockway, but quickly took to it, showing skills that made her one of the best singles and doubles players in District 9.
Buttery thought her tennis days were over, but joined the team at Clarion University after almost two years away from the court.
“Honestly, I never thought I would be playing any sport in college,” said Buttery, who also was on the basketball team at Brockway. “I don’t think many people ever thought I would play in college.”
It hasn’t been easy going for Buttery at the next level. She discovered quickly that Division II tennis is a lot different than rocketing aces or making perfect lob shots at the high school level.
Buttery, though, isn’t as concerned with the outcomes of her matches as much as she is about how she competes during them.
(Savannah Buttery, foreground, with her doubles partner at Clarion University, DuBois native Alexis Strouse)
“I was used to winning in high school,” Buttery said. “I love winning. If I could win every match, I would, but definitely the improvement I’ve made means more to me than seeing a win. I mean, we just played (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) the other day and they are ranked like No. 23 in the country.
“I think it’s funny because a lot of people actually think tennis is so easy,” she added, chuckling. “You just grab a racket and hit a ball. We actually had a basketball player at one of of practices and he asked if he could try it. He completely missed the ball. It’s very interesting to see other athletes try to play tennis. They don’t realize how much goes into it.”
Buttery has one more year of tennis remaining at Clarion. She has a dual major of psychology and criminal justice and wants to use those degrees to eventually join the FBI and work as a forensic psychologist in the Behavioral Analysis Unit.
“That’s my ultimate plan,” she said. “People know it as profiling, like on TV, like on Criminal Minds, but there’s a lot more that goes into it. Looking at the behavior of criminals is something I’m very much interested in doing.”
While she studies to fulfill her career goals, Buttery has helped pay her way through college by starting her own business, Butters Boutique.
It’s a play on the nicknames she picked up at Brockway.
“In high school it was either Butternut or Butters,” she said, laughing.
Buttery has her own unique style — in fact, one of the drawbacks she saw about playing tennis was wearing skirts. That style goes from her head all the way down to her feet.
And her custom footwear.
“I can make custom shoes for people,” Buttery said. “Canvas ones, leather shoes, Air Force (athletic) ones, things like that. I think it’s honestly great to be skilled in multiple areas. You never know what life can throw at you.”
Buttery knows that more than most. Her travels have taught her that. So has playing sports.
“Sports mean a lot to me in general, but I’m not going to be in sports for the rest of my life,” Buttery said. “I feel like having those experiences outside of athletics is good and can help me in the future. Just seeing what your work has actually accomplished, how it’s helped people in different communities, is really amazing.”